5 August 2014 – LDCs launch U.N. Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, telling inspiring stories of progress


Cotonou, Benin

The world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCS) celebrated the beginning of the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024 last week. The launch clearly showed that transition is possible.

The official LDCs launch of the Decade took place during the “Ministerial Conference on New Partnerships for Productive Capacity Building in LDCs” in Cotonou, Benin. Following the priority areas of the Istanbul Programme of Action, sustainable energy featured as one of the main topics of the conference.

‘Energy is indispensable for job creation, health, food security, access to clean water, education, a clean environment, gender equality and women’s empowerment. In short, real transformation cannot happen without energy. And sustainable development is not possible without sustainable energy,’ said Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, upon launching of the Decade.

Acharya, a United Nations Under-Secretary-General and SE4All Advisory Board member, underlined how new and renewable energy solutions are not only good for the environment, but can also ensure access in areas that previously were out of reach.

‘Renewable energy can provide mini-grid solutions for rural and remote areas off the larger grid. As we know, these are the areas where energy poverty is worst,’ said Acharya.

As one of the Co-Chairs of the energy session at the conference, Liberia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Axel M. Addy, cited a truly inspiring example of this from his own country. In February this year, the micro-hydro power plant in Yandehun, Kolahu, opened as a result of World Bank, Government of Liberia, and private sector partnership.

‘This 60kw power plant is providing environmentally friendly energy to the people of Kolahun at a fraction of the cost of a diesel generator,’ noted Minister Addy.

‘Today, that access to power generated from a small downhill stream is transforming the lives of women and children in a place in the middle of the deep rain forest of the north. We view this as our transformation story, improving lives, one innovation at a time. Today, Yandehun has the cleanest, most sustainable and affordable energy source in the country,’ said Minister Addy.

Addy’s Co-Chair, Kåre Stormark, Deputy Director-General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, concluded that energy is a key element for developing productive capacities in LDCs.

‘There are three key issues that have to be addressed: Increased access to modern energy, increased use of renewable energy, and increased energy efficiency. These are attainable issues, but not without challenges,’ noted Mr. Stormark.

The energy session included a distinguished panel consisting of H.E. Mr. Yinager Dessie Belay, State Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia; H.E. Prof. Dr. Govind Raj Pokharel, Vice Chairman, National Planning Commission, Nepal; Mr. Lamin Dampha, Director, Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Gambia; Dr. Daniel Schroth, SE4All Africa Hub Coordinator, African Development Bank; and Ms. Tonilyn Lim, Industrial Development Officer, Energy and Climate Change Branch, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The panel presentations included stories about how many Least Developed Countries are now in the process of developing Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Country Action Plans.

Prof. Dr. Pokharel also informed of the Nepalese Government’s commitment to eradicate indoor air pollution (IAP) in Nepal by 2017. Every year, around 4 million people around the world, mainly women and children, die prematurely from illnesses attributable to the household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels. This is also part of the reason why the two first years of the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All will have a particular focus on Energy, Women, Children and Health.

In closing, the Conference in Cotonou adopted an Outcome Document, “the Cotonou Agenda for productive capacity building in LDCs“,which reinforced the messages contained in the Communique from the High-level event on Sustainable Energy for the Least Developed Countries in September 2013.

The Outcome Document further stated that the ‘Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative, including its targets and the recently held SE4All Forum will remain a useful framework in the field of energy for the crucial decades ahead’, as well as recognized a ‘need for a long-term, global energy framework, under the umbrella of the United Nations, in order to lead resource mobilization and implementation in support of relevant goals under the Post-2015 Development Agenda with a focus on LDCs’.

Source : Sustainable Energy for All