UN Foundation’s Detchon Testifies before Senate: Challenge of Climate Change is ‘Textbook’ Case of the UN’s Value to the U.S. & International Community

Washington, D.C.

May 6, 2015


Megan Rabbitt

Appearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy, Reid Detchon, Vice President for Energy and Climate Strategy at the United Nations Foundation today testified that:

“The UN’s most important role is to serve as a forum for the world’s nations to address global challenges. The challenge of climate change is a textbook case of the UN’s value to the international community.

“If confronted with a problem of global scale and significance, anyone would want to assemble the best experts from all over the world to assess it and propose possible responses. In fact, that describes exactly what the UN has done on climate change. For such problems, it is often said that if we didn’t have a UN, we would have to invent it.”

Pointing to specific examples, Detchon noted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched his initiative on Sustainable Energy for All, which set three ambitious but achievable global goals for 2030:

  • Ensuring universal access to modern energy services – to reach the 1.2 billion people without any electricity and the nearly 3 billion people who still use polluting fuels like wood and charcoal for cooking and heating.
  • Doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency – from roughly 1.3% to 2.6% a year.
  • Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix – to roughly 36% from 18% today, while reducing the use of traditional biomass.

Detchon also discussed the vital role the UN plays in allowing the United States to achieve its foreign policy objectives, emphasizing the importance of paying dues in full.

“The benefits to our nation and to the world range from peacekeeping to humanitarian relief, as the UN takes on the problems that are too tough for any one country to handle,” he stated for the record. “One need look no further than the current work being undertaken by UN humanitarian agencies to help feed, shelter, and provide medical care to millions of people in earthquake-hit Nepal, or efforts by the UN and partners to vaccinate more than one billion children against polio over the years, to understand the ongoing need for this type of multilateral institution.”

However, he warned that failing to pay our UN dues “on time, in full, and without onerous preconditions” can “take away our seat at the table; it reduces our influence over the reform process, alienates our allies, whose support is critical to progress on our policy objectives, and puts UN activities that are directly in our national interest – such as peacekeeping operations – in financial jeopardy.”

Detchon’s full testimony as submitted for the Congressional record can be found here.