High-level Dialogue On The Implementation Of The Un Decade Of Sustainable Energy For All 2014-2019

May 28th, 2019 / Hillary K Bainny
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The High-Level Dialogue on the Implementation of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2019 convened to discuss the implementation of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024, including its global plan of action.

In 2012, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted resolution 67/215, by which it declared the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014–2024, underscoring the importance of energy issues for sustainable development. As 2019 marks the mid-point of the Decade, the Dialogue provided an opportunity for energy policymakers and other relevant stakeholders to not only discuss the implementation of the Decade, but also to assess progress and identify challenges and solutions. Participants also addressed the linkages between Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 (on energy), the other SDGs, and the Paris Agreement on climate change, in advance of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit to be held in New York on 23 September 2019.

Two reports were launched during the Dialogue: ‘Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report’ and ‘the SDG7 Policy Briefs 2019.’ Launching the Tracking SDG7 report, Rohit Khanna, World Bank, said at the current electrification rate, universal access by 2013 is “actually conceivable” but that due to uneven progress between countries and regions, efforts need to be ramped up to actually reach the 100% energy access target. Hans Olav Ibrekk, Norway, launching the SDG7 Policy Briefs, highlighted the need for a considerable increase in financing levels for energy transition and that such financing should be directed where they are needed the most, such as to LDCs and SIDS, which are the groups of countries most left behind.

The High-Level Dialogue took place from 23-24 May 2019 in New York, US. The event was organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) in collaboration with the Office of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) President, the co-facilitators of the Group of Friends of Sustainable Energy, and members of UN-Energy and the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on SDG 7.

On Thursday, 23 May, the High-Level Dialogue featured a series of technically-oriented expert roundtable sessions that focused on sharing key policy messages, demonstrating action and discussing future directions towards the implementation of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, including its global plan of action. On Friday, 24 May, a high-level plenary session was held to review progress towards the goals of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, and its global plan of action.

Report of the Dialogue

On Thursday, 23 May, Minoru Takada, Sustainable Energy Team Leader, UN DESA, opened the High-Level Dialogue on the Implementation of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2019: A Mid-Point Review. He observed that the celebration of the Decade’s mid-point comes at a timely moment as: the UN Secretary-General is organizing the Climate Action Summit, which will have energy as one of the tracks; and Heads of States will review all the SDGs, including SDG 7 (energy), during the High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) under UNGA auspices in September (the SDG Summit). He announced that two publications will be launched during the event’s high-level segment on 24 May: ‘SDG 7 Policy Briefs 2019’ and ‘SDG 7 Tracking Report 2019.’

Roundtable sessions

UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024: Advancing SDG 7 to Achieve the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Minoru Takada moderated the session. Sheila Oparaocha, Co-facilitator, SDG 7 Technical Advisory Group (SDG 7-TAG), and Executive Director, ENERGIA, observed that progress on SDG 7 has been “largely uneven” and advocated for, inter alia:

  1. making clean cooking a political priority;

  2. scaling up investments in decentralized energy solutions;

  3. encouraging women participation in the energy sector;

  4. mobilizing funds for women entrepreneurship; and

  5. ensuring gender mainstreaming in policy and budgeting through dis-aggregated data.

Hans Olav Ibrekk, Co-facilitator, SDG 7-TAG, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, noted that the Arctic has had 100 consecutive months of the highest temperature in history, and quoted a small-islands developing states (SIDS) leader who cautioned that “when the Arctic melts, we drown.” Observing that The Guardian (newspaper) is no longer labeling it “climate change” but “climate crisis,” he said emissions are going up instead of going down, including in China and other parts of Asia, while investments in renewable energy are remaining at the same level. Mentioning the Climate Action Summit, he stressed that it is now up to decision-makers to deliver, adding that “ambition is the only answer acceptable for this challenge.”

Rohit Khanna, World Bank, said the Bank will invest USD 130 billion to support energy transition and will mobilize an additional USD 70 billion from the private sector. He noted the World Bank’s commitment to ensuring that going forward, 75% of its programmes will have climate co-benefits. Observing that clean cooking is “the failing indicator of SDG 7,” he lamented the wastage of USD 300 billion per year on fossil fuel subsidies, when it would cost only USD 4.4 billion to ensure that everyone has access to clean cooking. He recommended that if fossil fuel subsidies are not phased out, they should at least be made smarter, explaining that most of the current fossil fuel subsidies are very retrograde.

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