Source: World Energy Congress

Ban Ki-moon

On the closing day of the World Energy Congress, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reaffirmed his pledge to provide one billion people across the globe access to sustainable energy by 2030.

“Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, environmental health, social fairness and opportunity”, said Ban in a pre-recorded video address.

In 2010, the United Nations, in collaboration with the World Bank, launched the Sustainable Energy For All Initiative. “Clean, modern and affordable energy services are essential for sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals”, the Korean-born Secretary General said.

Ban set out the initiative’s three primary goals, which include providing universal access to modern energy sources and doubling both the worldwide rate of energy efficiency and renewable energy’s share of the global energy mix.

Secretary General Ban urged his audience of 6,000 delegates to take swift action to bolster the UN’s energy agenda. “No other energy gathering brings together such a wide range of actors”, he said. “I ask you to lead by example in securing tomorrow’s energy today.”

Following Ban’s keynote address, Kandeh Yumkella, the CEO of the Sustainable Energy For All Initiative and the Secretary General’s special representative, praised South Korea for setting an example of how fast a country can industrialize and bring prosperity to its citizens. “Energy was the core of the revolution here”, he says. Yumkella notes this government-led drive that brought South Korea from the third to first world in just one generation can be a model for today’s developing economies.

Bringing electricity to poor communities starts from the ground up, says Sanjit Bunker Roy, the founder of India’s Barefoot College. “What’s happening at the top is not reaching those at the bottom”, he says. His foundation has trained 500 elderly women from 64 countries to become solar panel engineers. After leaving the Barefoot College campus, they return to their homes and help bring electricity to their villages for the first time. When delivering energy to the world’s unconnected “we need to keep solutions simple”, Roy says.