UN launches International Year of Sustainable Energy for All
United Nations' officials launched [this week] the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All with a call on governments, the private sector and civil society to help expand energy access, improve efficiency and increase the use of renewables.
Globally, one person in five still lacks access to modern electricity and twice that number â€“ three billion people â€“ rely on wood, coal, charcoal, or animal waste for cooking and heating.
"We are here to build a new energy future... a future that harnesses the power of technology and innovation in the service of people and the planet," Mr. Ban said in remarks to the opening of the World Future Energy Summit, which is taking place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
"Sustainable energy for all is within our reach," he told the summit, which also serves as the global launch of 2012 as the International Year.
Mr. Ban stressed that energy is central to everything, from powering economies to achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), from combating climate change to underpinning global security.
"It is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity and preserving the environment."
And yet, he noted, widespread energy poverty still condemns billions to darkness, to ill-health, to missed opportunities for education and prosperity. "That is why I say, energy poverty must end... We need to turn on the lights for all households."
To do this, he cited the need to scale up successful examples of clean energy and energy-efficient technologies; innovation that can spread throughout the developing world; partnerships with the private sector; and visionary leadership.
Mr. Ban stressed that energy poverty cannot be allowed to jeopardize progress towards the MDGs â€“ targets aimed at slashing global poverty by 2015 by combating hunger, disease, illiteracy, environment degradation and discrimination against women.
Image credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider