Last Friday, the Center for Global Development hosted a robust and informative discussion on U.S. leadership in the context of Sustainable Energy for All, an initiative of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Setting up the need for engaged American leadership on issues related to of climate change and energy, United Nations Foundation President, Timothy E. Wirth, made a compelling case for energy to remain part of the global development agenda for years to come. “How could one possibly think about development around the world…without having a sharp focus on energy? Energy empowers, energy enables,” said Wirth.

Keynoting the event, Secretary-General Ban weaved his personal experiences of growing up without access to electricity in Korea into a compelling case for energy access for all people. “Until I became a freshman in college in 1963, I had to study under a dim, smoky kerosene lamp. Candles I used only during the time to prepare for examinations.  Candles were considered too expensive for me and for most of the people,” said Ban. “This memory has stayed with me such a long time.”

Ban went on to state that the challenges the world faces are of such immense magnitude, and so closely interconnected, “that they require nothing less than a paradigm shift, a fundamental reset of the global development agenda.” Energy, he said, is a golden thread that, if pulled skillfully and wisely, can help solve these challenges.

As readers of this page know, Sustainable Energy for All calls for achieving three interconnected objectives by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Reid Detchon, Vice President of Energy and Climate at UNF, and Richenda Van Leeuwen, Executive Director of Energy Access Initiatives at UNF, followed up the CGD event with a press availability to further elaborate on Sustainable Energy for All in the context of Earth Day, which  occurred this past Sunday, while looking forward to Rio+20.

With less than two months to Rio, this week will be quite busy for the initiative. A brand new website will launch Thursday; Linkin Park’s Power the World website now features a pledge to Sustainable Energy for All; and numerous commitments to Sustainable Energy for All are expected out of London this week, where the Clean Energy Ministerial will meet tomorrow and Thursday. Stay tuned to for all the latest news!

Photo Credit: Center for Global Development