Nearly 300 business, government and civil society leaders from around the world gathered at UN Headquarters in New York today for the UN Private Sector Forum on Sustainable Energy for All, hosted by the UN Global Compact in collaboration with UNIDO/UN-Energy.
The three-hour working luncheon focused on ways in which the private sector, in collaboration with governments, the UN and civil society organizations, can help advance the Secretary-General’s new Sustainable Energy for All initiative, a global call for bold action to achieve universal energy access, improve energy efficiency and grow the share of renewable energy – all by 2030.
Opening the Forum, UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro delivered remarks on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, urging all types of organizations to embark on a clean energy revolution. “These objectives are ambitious. But they are achievable. Together, they can revitalize the global economy, help combat climate change, and go a long way toward ensuring equal opportunity for all.”
Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Director-General of UNIDO and Chair of UN Energy, recognized the General Assembly’s resolution to mark 2012 as the Year of Sustainable Energy for All. He said, “Without energy we cannot achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Without energy we cannot have competitive industries, competitive economies. And more importantly, without an energy revolution, we cannot solve climate change.”
The keynote speech was delivered by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who praised regional governments as leaders in the energy challenge. He said, “When I look back at my time as Governor, I’m most proud that California was one of those regional governments that was part of the solution, instead of standing on the sidelines. It was of course a team effort.”
In addition to California’s initiatives to implement the Hydrogen Highway, add one million solar roofs and increase the state’s share of renewables to 30 percent, Governor Schwarzenegger shared inspirational examples of other cities aiming to reach sustainable energy targets. He noted that New York’s famed Empire State Building had cut its energy use by 40 percent, and also mentioned Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City, a new eco-city for 50,000 people and 1,500 businesses that aims to be both sustainable and carbon-neutral.
Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, called on the private sector to engage more fully in transformational partnerships with the UN. “The time is right for greater collaboration between the private sector and the UN,” he said.
In preparation for the Forum, the UN Global Compact launched a number of new deliverables in support of the Secretary-General’s initiative and the UN’s broader sustainability agenda:
Further, several businesses and industry groups issued new commitments and calls to action in support of the Secretary-General’s agenda. A selection is provided here:
Acciona (Spain) commits to replicate a multi-stakeholder public-private partnership programme to provide access to renewable sources of energy to communities in emerging economies, currently out of reach of the energy grid.
Aviva Investors (UK) commits to forming a coalition of financial institutions, professional bodies, NGOs and investors that will call on the UN to develop a global policy framework requiring listed and large private companies to integrate sustainability information throughout their Annual Report and Accounts.
Bayer (Germany) commits to improve its energy efficiency by reducing specific greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent by 2020 (baseline 2005) per metric ton of products sold.
Deutsche Bank (Germany) commits to facilitate financing structures – including the Global Climate Partnership Fund, European Energy Efficiency Fund and Get Fit – which will expand the financing of energy efficiency projects and enable the deployment of renewable energy in developed and developing countries.
Dow Corning (USA) commits to provide USD 5 million in unrestricted support over five years to the United Nations Foundation-led Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.
Eni (Italy) commits to provide access to sustainable energy for communities and companies in the countries where it operates, investing 2 billion euro to support these efforts. Eni commits to implement technologies to ensure the sustainability of energy access in developing countries.
ENEL (Italy) commits to create the “EN-EL, Enabling Electricity” programme to increase access to energy. More than 1 million people across the world are benefiting from Enel’s innovative projects to access energy. The company seeks to double this figure in the next three years.
Grupo Energía de Bogota (Colombia) commits to promote universal energy access for residents in rural areas around its electricity infrastructure. The Group commits to: 1) design, build and distribute power networks and connect surrounding residents; 2) work with local distribution companies to make electricity available to these users; and 3) utilize photovoltaic electricity panels if the users are located in distant and isolated zones.
Infosys Limited (India) commits to action in several areas in order to reduce its direct footprint: 1) Energy efficiency: Reduce per capita energy consumption by 50% over 2007 levels by the year 2017; 2) Renewable energy: Source 100% of all its electricity from renewable resources by the end of 2017; 3) Become carbon neutral across all its emissions by 2017; and 4) Infosys will work with public policy makers to ensure that the right regulatory and fiscal frameworks are in place to move in the right direction.
Nokero International (USA) commits to working in partnership with Navajo tribal leaders and Eagle Energy, a sustainable energy non-profit, to provide universal access to solar energy in the Navajo Nation where 18,000 families live off-the-grid.
Nuru Energy (Netherlands) Nuru Energy’s mission is to provide the more than 2 billion people living off-the-grid with affordable and clean lighting systems by expanding access to its affordable, safe and clean modular LED lights to 1.8M rural households in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Solar Sister (USA) commits to developing a last-mile distribution programme for clean energy products to reach consumers in remote communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Solar Sister will employ 5,000 solar entrepreneurs in 5 countries to reach over 2.5 million beneficiaries over 5 years.
Toyola Energy (Ghana) commits to sell at least 3 million energy-efficient cookstoves and 30,000 solar lanterns and small home systems to poor households in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020. The company will use a tested model involving a combination of mobile marketing, microfinance, microfranchising, carbon finance and small business finance.
Viyellatex Group (Bangladesh) commits to be a carbon neutral company by 2016, and has taken a holistic approach to offset carbon emissions from its operations.
Article by UN Global Compact, appearing courtesy 3BL Media