Helen Clark: Speech at EU-organized Side Event: New Business Models: Bringing Sustainable Energy to the Energy Poor at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum

Jun 4, 2014

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Speech at EU-organized Side Event:
New Business Models: Bringing Sustainable Energy to the Energy Poor
at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum
United Nations, New York

I am pleased to participate in this side event on New Business Models: Bringing Sustainable Energy to the Energy Poor.

This topic is of high relevance, as universal access to energy is fundamental to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and will be critical to the success of the post-2015 development agenda too.

UNDP has been engaged in promoting energy access, renewable energy technologies, and energy efficiency, around the world for more than two decades.

In this process, we have learned many valuable lessons and witnessed promising developments. Small Island Developing States, for example, have pledged their commitment to providing universal access to energy, switching to renewable energy, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Ethiopia, a Least Developed Country, has developed a far-sighted low-carbon, climate-resilient, green economy strategy, and has set out to invest US $150 billion over two decades to become a carbon neutral country by 2025.  UNDP is pleased to have been associated with both these initiatives.

It is well established that private sector financing, backed by international capital markets, will play an important role in meeting the challenges of providing access to sustainable energy for all.

For the private sector, there are business opportunities in providing clean, affordable, and reliable energy to the 1.3 billion people who currently lack access to electricity and to the 2.6 billion people who rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking. In order to attract the level of investment needed to scale up access to energy and renewable energy use, however, a range of barriers often needs to be addressed. That includes putting in place enabling policy, regulatory, and institutional environments, and ensuring that capacity and support services are available for the delivery of energy services.

UNDP has extensive experience in assisting countries to identify barriers to private sector investment, and in helping to facilitate the co-ordinated action needed to overcome them. In Kazakhstan, South Africa, Tunisia, and Uruguay, for example, UNDP has supported the development of commercial wind energy enterprises, including through the assessment of wind resources, the development of enabling policy frameworks, and the design of financial incentives and regulatory measures.

Based on its experience, UNDP has developed an innovative framework, “Derisking Renewable Energy Investment”, aimed at assisting policymakers to compare the impact of different public measures which can promote investment in renewable energy. It shows how barriers and risks to renewable energy investment can be addressed in a systematic way, and how to develop approaches based on inclusive stakeholder participation, involving civil society and marginalized groups as well as the private sector.

Around the world, parliaments, through their legislative role, help shape enabling frameworks for development of energy infrastructure. As well, through their role of budget scrutiny, they can push for funding provisions dedicated to investments in sustainable energy.  Parliamentarians can also help build influential coalitions to advocate for sustainable energy for all.

As a leading actor in parliamentary development, UNDP has supported a number of parliaments in their efforts to increase access to sustainable energy. Our partnership in this area with the Climate Parliament, supported by grants from the European Commission and Denmark, has been especially worthwhile.

In India, for example, through the Parliamentary Action on Renewable Energy project (PARE) project, a cross-party group of parliamentarians was supported in its advocacy to Government about reinstating financial incentives for wind power generation. This scheme, which had previously been repealed, now has funding of US$130 million, and has already helped to rejuvenate investments in the sector in India.

UNDP and the European Commission have just published the “How-to-Guide: Renewable Energy for Parliamentarians”. The Guide provides an introduction to renewable energy technologies, and offers concrete suggestions for ways in which parliamentarians can help to promote renewable energy. It is our sincere hope that this Guide will help parliamentarians to be effective advocates for renewable energy.


These are important and exciting times for the sustainable energy agenda. What is needed now is to build on the current momentum in order to bring modern and sustainable energy services to all.  

UNDP is strongly committed to making this happen. I am delighted to launch this “How-to-Guide: Renewable Energy for Parliamentarians” as part of our ongoing contribution to that end.

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