The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared the decade 2014‑2024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, underscoring the importance of energy issues for sustainable development and for the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda.
In adopting the resolution, the General Assembly reaffirmed its determination to make sustainable energy for all a reality. The text calls upon Member States to galvanize efforts to make universal access to sustainable modern energy services a priority, noting that 1.3 billion people are without electricity and 2.6 billion people in developing countries rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating. It expressed concern that even when energy services are available, millions of poor people are unable to pay for them.
The resolution stressed the need to improve access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services and resources for sustainable development. To that end, it also highlighted the importance of improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of renewable energy and cleaner and energy-efficient technologies.
Significantly, the resolution recognized the importance of giving appropriate consideration to energy issues in elaborating the post-2015 development agenda. The Assembly called upon Governments, as well as relevant international and regional organizations and other relevant stakeholders, to combine, as appropriate, the increased use of new and renewable energy resources, more efficient use of energy, greater reliance on advanced energy technologies, including cleaner fossil fuel technologies, and the sustainable use of traditional energy resources, to meet the increasing need for energy services.
The declaration of the Decade builds on the growing interest of Member States in energy issues. General Assembly resolution 65/151 designated 2012 the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All” and called on the Secretary-General to organize and coordinate activities during the Year to increase awareness of the importance of addressing energy issues.
In response, the Secretary-General launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which brings together stakeholders in Government, the private sector and civil society to mobilize action towards three objectives: to provide universal energy access; to double the rate of global energy efficiency improvement; and to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
In September, the Secretary-General announced that Kandeh Yumkella, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Chair of UN-Energy, will serve as Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and Chief Executive of the effort.
“Sustainable Energy for all is essential for achieving our Millennium Development Goals and for opening up new opportunities for growth and prosperity in every country of the world,” Mr. Yumkella said. “It is also central to discussions on the post-2015 development agenda and proposed new sustainable development goals.” He continued: “We warmly welcome the General Assembly’s declaration of the Decade and stand ready to support Member States and all stakeholders in making sustainable energy for all a reality on the ground.”
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