Energy enables. From job creation to economic development, from security concerns to the full empowerment of women, energy lies at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the world’s leaders in September 2015.
How we produce and use energy is pivotal to the Paris Agreement on climate change, in which 195 nations agreed to act to keep the increase in the global average temperature well below two degrees Celsius.
In the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive."
Yet more than one billion people in the world today have no access to electricity, and nearly three times that number depend for cooking on solid fuels, whose smoke is killing more than four million people a year.
Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) is all about that golden thread.
We empower leaders to broker partnerships and unlock finance to achieve universal access to sustainable energy as a contribution to a cleaner, just and prosperous world for all.
We connect stakeholders, marshal evidence, benchmark progress, amplify the voices of our partners and tell stories of success.
As a global platform, SEforALL lifts up the great work of others. It demonstrates the art of the possible. It makes connections and investments happen. It produces measureable results.
We need to rethink radically the way we produce, distribute and use energy, if we are to meet the dual challenge of reducing the carbon intensity of energy while making it available to everyone.
Reflecting that need, SEforALL is working towards three ambitious objectives for 2030:
• ensuring universal access to modern energy services
• doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
• doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
These objectives foreshadowed and are embodied in Sustainable Development Goal 7, which calls for “affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all”.
Ensuring sustainable energy access is critical in delivering not only SDG 7, but all the SDGs. Without sustainable energy, development that lifts up all people while protecting the planet is simply not possible.
But as a global community, we are not moving fast enough to meet the challenge.
Some 1.1 billion people do not have access to electricity and 2.9 billion people have no access to clean cooking. Progress on energy efficiency is at two-thirds the required rate. We need to double the share of renewables in the energy mix. And finance flows are at one-third of the $1.0-1.2 trillion per year required to meet all three of SEforALL’s objectives by 2030.
The good news is that we can pursue all three objectives at once. In fact, we must.
Affordable renewable energy technologies can bring modern energy services to rural communities where extension of the conventional power grid is prohibitively expensive and impractical. Efficiency and renewables, combined, offer us an energy system that takes up less planetary space and keeps emissions to levels that allow us to fulfil the Paris Agreement.
Bolstering energy efficiency can provide substantial cost savings to governments, businesses and households, while freeing up power for other more productive uses. Decentralized clean energy business models powering super-efficient devices mean that the “last person” can now be the first person we reach with energy services.
Building the movement
In September 2011, Secretary-General Ban shared his vision for making universal access to sustainable energy a reality by 2030. He launched Sustainable Energy for All as a global initiative that would mobilize action from all sectors of society in support of its three interlinked objectives.
With a mandate that sent a clear signal about the central role of energy in ending poverty and halting the precipitous changes in climate, SEforALL embarked on uncharted territory and rapidly generated momentum.
Operating under the leadership of its first CEO and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, Kandeh Yumkella, SEforALL has brought multiple stakeholders together—governments, development banks, the private sector, investors, civil society, and international institutions—under a single umbrella.
Strategic guidance is provided by SEforALL’s Advisory Board, a unique body co-chaired by the UN Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank Group. It comprises more than 40 ministerial-level or chief executive-level leaders selected from key government or international organizations, relevant energy businesses and civil society organizations, global leaders in energy finance, investments and authorities in policy, technology and other strategic issues.
Many formal and informal partnerships have formed – Regional and Thematic Hubs, High Impact Opportunities, Advisory Board Committees and the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform – as SEforALL’s structure has evolved.
Among these, the Knowledge Hub, hosted by the World Bank in collaboration with other partners, has been instrumental in benchmarking progress towards SEforALL’s objectives through its Global Tracking Framework and other knowledge products, providing valuable contributions to the intergovernmental process of setting indicators to measure SDG 7.
More than 100 countries have engaged with SEforALL, providing financial or in-kind contributions or working on tailored national strategies and investment plans to deliver on SEforALL’s objectives.
SEforALL’s high-level advocacy and coalition-building played a core role in putting universal access to modern energy services at the heart of the SDGs and Paris Agreement.
Going further, faster – together
We have reached an inflection point.
The world’s leaders have stepped up and agreed to an agenda that will achieve sustainable development while tackling climate change – and SEforALL is responding.
Advocacy for SEforALL’s goals sparked a movement, and brought together governments, companies, investors, communities, cities and people to call for action.
Now SEforALL is working to turn this movement into a driving action.
“We will empower leaders to go further, faster by brokering partnerships and unlocking finance,” said Rachel Kyte, who took office as SEforALL’s CEO and Special Representative of the Secretary-General in January 2016.
“This will help us secure an energy transition that is clean, affordable and just - because no one must be left behind.”
In 2016, SEforALL has become an international organization in its own right. Its new Strategic Framework for Results 2016-21, titled ‘Going Further, Faster – Together’, marks a new phase where the emphasis is on helping partners to take rapid, tangible action on SDG7 and the Paris Agreement.
Key elements of the Strategic Framework include the following:
- Sustainable Energy for All is developing ‘heat maps’ based on data from its Global Tracking Framework – developed by a coalition led by the World Bank Group and the International Energy Agency – to help focus resources where they can have most impact. While every country, region or town matters, the heat maps offer a framework for identifying those places where action is most needed, and where successes can inform solutions elsewhere.
- We will work to mobilise the huge investment needed to achieve the three objectives, estimated to be at least one trillion dollars annually – a tripling of current flows. We will work with others to help develop robust pipelines of bankable projects, an enabling policy climate, ways to address investor risk and financing approaches that can unlock the right type of capital at the right time.
- We will catalyse action on energy access through both grid connections and decentralised solutions.
- We will encourage governments to take an ‘energy efficiency first’ approach in policy planning, making this so-called first fuel an integral part of holistic energy systems.
- We will help leaders to scale up renewable energy by leveraging the work of our partners and celebrating success stories.
- We will help leaders to make the right choices on energy policy and action, supporting the exchange of ideas, data, evidence and best practice.
- We will take an inclusive, people-centred approach, ensuring that the voices of the energy poor are heard and that women are full participants and beneficiaries.
- As a global platform, we will create a space where new partnerships can be created, questions can be aired, solutions explored and successes celebrated.
The Charter of the United Nations begins with “We the peoples…”
We the peoples have determined that there should be affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. We the peoples understand that “all” means everyone. And we the peoples know that together we can go further, faster.
We are Sustainable Energy for All.
Because no one must be left behind.