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ADB, UN launch Sustainable Energy for All in Asia Pacific

At the Asia Clean Energy Forum in Manila, the Asian Development Bank, UNDP and United Nations ESCAP introduced the new regional hub for the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which will help ensure universal access to energy by 2030.

The Asian Development Bank and two United Nations agencies on Wednesday launched the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) regional hub for Asia and the Pacific in Manila, which will help meet the initiative’s primary goal of ensuring universal access to energy by 2030.

The regional hub was launched by ADB, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at the opening of the Asia Clean Energy Forum at the ADB headquarters.

They also marked the start of the International Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, which is from 2014 to 2024.

The SE4ALL initiative was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September 2011 to mobilise the transformation of energy systems worldwide, particularly to end energy poverty and boost sustainable growth. Since the initiative’s inception, over 75 countries have joined the Sustainable Energy for All movement.

ADB – which is currently holding an international forum on clean energy development with the World Energy Council and United States Agency for International Development until June 20 – will host the Asia Pacific hub of the SE4ALL initiative, which is headquartered in Vienna and New York.

The regional hub will not only help meet the primary goal of ensuring universal access to energy by 2030, but it will also commit to the two other goals of the SE4ALL: doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Unless and until we present an alternative development path, Asia and Pacific nations will rely on the development of fossil fuel power plants to meet their energy needs. The need for clean energy in Asia is greater than ever

Jiwan Acharya, ADB senior climate change specialist for clean energy

Dr Kandeh Yumkella, special representative of the UN Secretary-General and chief executive of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, who gave the keynote speech at the launch, noted that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim have spearheaded this drive for sustainable energy. Both leaders want to lead a clean energy revolution, one that will power the third industrial revolution leading to sustainable jobs and industries, he added.

Dr Yumkella also noted that while energy was not part of the Millennium Development Goals, “energy is not trivial”.

The UN has been able to bring energy into the centre of political discussions such that it has become part of the Rio+20 resolution and is embedded in the current plans for the post-2015 development agenda, he said.

Similarly, Jiwan Acharya, senior climate change specialist for clean energy at ADB, noted: “Unless and until we present an alternative development path, Asia and Pacific nations will rely on the development of fossil fuel power plants to meet their energy needs. The need for clean energy in Asia is greater than ever.”

In a video shown at the launch, ADB noted that Asia is home to the world’s energy poor, and this lack of electricity keeps people poor. 

Still, the region is leading in renewables, noted Dr Yumkella, who also highlighted that all these dynamics make it important to start a SE4ALL hub in the region.

The launch of this hub is a reflection of the world’s expectation of Asia and how it will respond to the energy crisis, said Anthony Jude, chair of the ADB energy committee.

The Asia Pacific-Sustainable Energy For All (AP-SE4ALL) Hub will seek to fulfil the three overall SE4ALL goals by leveraging the strengths and existing structures of ADB, UNDP and UNESCAP, particularly its energy programmes. It will also tap on the organizing partners’ collective convening power, network and country presence to mobilise action on national levels, as well as facilitate core activities directed by the global SE4ALL team, explained ADB and the two UN agencies.

According to the three organisations, this essentially makes the regional hub a collaborative knowledge-sharing platform, a more targeted branch of the bigger action-focused global network.

For its first two years, it will also specifically work on eight objectives, including supporting Asian countries in preparing their action agendas to meet the 2030 goals and catalysing investments in energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“The impact that we’re looking for is not just about improving statistics,” noted Shun-ichi Murata, deputy executive secretary of UNESCAP.

“We know we can learn from Asia,” added Dr Yumkella, as he underscored the importance of the hub. This regional base complements the other hubs being established in Africa and Latin America.

Sustainable energy can lead to “prosperity for all, not prosperity for the few”, he said.

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