Grynspan: Bloomberg New Energy Summit 2011

07 Apr 2011

Introductory remarks by Rebeca Grynspan,
UNDP Associate Administrator and Under Secretary General

Bloomberg New Energy Summit
Roundtable Day on Energy Access and Climate Finance in Association with UN-Energy

I am pleased to join you this morning to open today’s roundtable. You have a big task ahead. The questions you are asked to work on today go to the heart of one of our most pressing challenges and also promising opportunities: how can countries expand access to energy while also combating climate change.

Expanding access to energy means including 2.4 billion people: 1.4 billion that still has no access to electricity (87% of whom live in the rural areas) and 1 billion that only has access to unreliable electricity networks.

We need smart and practical approaches because energy, as a driver of development, plays a central role in both fighting poverty and addressing climate change.

The implications are enormous: families forego entrepreneurial endeavors, children cannot study after dark, health clinics do not function properly, and women are burdened with time consuming chores such as pounding grain or hauling water, leaving them with less time to engage in income generating activities.

Further, it is estimated that kitchen smoke leads to around 1.5 million premature deaths every year, more than the number of deaths from malaria each year. After gaining access to energy households generate more income, are more productive and are less hungry further multiplying the MDGs progress.

In New York last September at the Millennium Development Goals Summit, UN Member States unanimously committed to “increase their use of new and renewable energy sources and enhance national capacities to meet growing energy demand”.

As explained by Kandeh, that has played a remarkable leadership role in this initiative,the momentum to take forward this agenda has culminated in the Global Campaign for Universal Energy Access that challenges all of us to support the goal of universal access to modern and clean energy services.

The evidence tells us that universal access to energy is not incompatible with fighting climate change. Through the adoption of cleaner technologies and energy efficiency, countries can expand access to all - while at the same time moving decisively towards a low carbon and climate resilient future.

There are no fundamental technical barriers to prevent us from meeting the goal of universal access. Estimates tell us that it is also financially viable. It is estimated that the capital investment required to deliver modern energy services to the 2.4 billion energy poor is in the order of 40 billion USD per year until 2030. This represents only around three per cent of the total global energy investment expected for this period.

While technology and financing do not inhibit us – achieving universal energy access will require coordinated action especially by governments and the private sector, but will also need communities and international organisations. We need developing countries’ plans and priorities focused on realising the win-win opportunities presented by investing in the poor and marginalized while growing vibrant new markets for the future.

Public-private partnerships will be needed to enable developing countries to adopt new and innovative technologies and take advantage of the full range of available financing.

To harness the opportunities presented by the private sector, countries need smart policies and capable institutions. This is where the UN and UNDP come in. We help countries to develop the national capacities they need to attract and manage investments and new sources of financing. We help them remove barriers to investment and establish policy frameworks that increase predictability and reduce risk.

In countries around the world, we are helping to lay the ground for successful and scaled up private sector investment in the energy sector. By focusing on the right energy policies, including those specifically targeted to decentralised energy options we help to facilitate the kind of investment that will meet overall development priorities and, reach poor and marginalized communities.

UNDP’s energy portfolio continues to grow. Since 1992, more than 2,700 small energy projects have channelled more than 750 million USD and leveraged additional 3.25 billion USD in co-financing, in almost every developing country of the world.

For example, in Kenya the UN and UNDP helped strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Energy to review its national energy policy, and establish a regulatory and institutional framework conducive to private sector participation in the energy sector. This helped to lay the ground for a 300 megawatt wind energy project. One third of Kenya’s energy will come from wind once completed making it the largest user of wind energy in Africa. We at UNDP look forward to working with all of you to help build the kind of public private partnerships that take this kind of initiative to more countries.

Allow me to conclude by re-emphasizing that achieving universal access to energy is not an aspirational goal or a lofty promise, but an achievable target towards which we should work together – for the benefit of all.