Word is Out: This is the Year to Focus on Sustainable Energy

Word is Out: This is the Year to Focus on Sustainable Energy

The Year of the Dragon is on its way and so is the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. While the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, declared the sustainability initiative back in September, 2010, there has been very little said in advance of this special year. It has three key objectives: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

From the Sustainable Business Forum (31 December 2011):

2012 has been officially declared by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.  The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, declared the sustainability initiative back in September, 2010, and as 2011 nears an end, global sustainability efforts are moving forward in many directions. The initiative will bring people of all nations together and promote a sense of community centered on sustainable energy.

Now is the time to craft our resolutions to reflect our commitment to living a sustainable life and supporting global efforts to do the same. Available and affordable energy is critical because it promotes sustainability awareness, economic growth and global peace.  Green building, sustainable living and green supply chains are just a few of the ways people around the world are improving their living conditions.

Below are some of the more inspirational success stories that are coming out of the UN initiative:

Benin, West Africa

With the help of the non-profit company, Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), two tiny rural villages in Benin are able to grow fruits and vegetables year round.  Through the use of solar drip irrigation, crops can now flourish during the dry season, a time when the land is typically so parched that nearly nothing can grow on its soil.  Years of arid ground led to food shortages and widespread malnutrition in the community, but now the communities’ solar-powered drip irrigation systems pump water for food crops when rainfall is scarce. Food security is now assured, and families are well fed year round.

Better nutrition during every season has improved life for everyone, making the villages of Bessassi and Dunkassa healthier and more productive.  There is more time for adults to start their own businesses, children to study for school and farmers to increase their incomes by selling their surplus crops at the market. In the near future, these villages will be implementing solar electric systems, giving much-needed power to schools, health clinics, businesses and homes.

Improving Lives in Tajikistan

One rural community in Tajikistan is improving its residents’ lives with clean and renewable energy generated by small-scale solar panels and hydro power plants.  The UN’s Development Program has provided the village of Bozorboi Burunov with these resources, bringing electric power, heat and clean water to schools, businesses and homes.  Because residents can now rely on this power, economic conditions have seriously improved:  better business opportunities are available for previously struggling farmers and merchants, children can study once the sun goes down, and people no longer need to travel long distances for healthcare. Eventually the mini hydro power plant will be connected to a main grid and will sell electricity during low consumption periods, making the plant more sustainable over a longer period.

Music for Relief with Linkin Park

The musical group, Linkin Park, isn’t standing idle knowing that 1.3 billion people in the world do not have electricity.  No electricity means that once the sun goes down, children cannot study, parents cannot work and clinics cannot provide critical health care during an emergency.  Linkin Park is telling its fans to visit the website, www.powertheworld.org and donate $10 to purchase one solar powered light bulb, to be given to a family in Haiti, provided by Music for Relief (www.musicforrelief.org).  Donors receive a custom holiday card and the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping a family live a safer, more sustainable life.

The Big Picture

As we approach the New Year, many of us are reflecting on 2011 and thinking about resolutions for 2012.  Perhaps we’ll try one more time to stick to our budget, lose twenty pounds, or spend less time on our computers.   Goals like these aren’t going anywhere, so why keep recycling them? Instead, let’s make 2012 a year to look at the bigger picture, one in which we think about how to care for the earth and help its citizens live more sustainably.

Source: www.sustainablebusinessforum.com

International Year of Sustainable Energy for All

In December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, recognizing that “… access to modern affordable energy services in developing countries is essential for the achievement of … the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development.”

The General Assembly’s Resolution 65/151 called on the Secretary-General, in consultation with the inter-agency group UN-Energy to organize and coordinate activities to be undertaken during the Year in order to “increase awareness of the importance of addressing energy issues, including modern energy services for all, access to affordable energy, energy efficiency and the sustainability of energy sources and use” at local, national, regional and international levels.

In response, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with support from UN-Energy and the United Nations Foundation, is leading a new global initiative – Sustainable Energy for All. This initiative will engage governments, the private sector, and civil society partners globally with the goal of achieving sustainable energy for all, and to reach three major objectives by 2030:

  • ensuring universal access to modern energy services
  • doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency
  • doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix

Over the course of 2012, the designation of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All will provide a vital platform for raising awareness of the challenge and for securing national commitments toward achieving the three objectives.

Key Elements of the Initiative and the International Year

High-Level Group – The Secretary-General has convened high-level representatives from the private sector, government, UN/intergovernmental organizations and civil society to develop a global strategy and concrete agenda for action to reach the three objectives . The roadmap, which will build on the work of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change, will be offered for consideration at the Rio+20 conference in June 2012.

National Actions – The United Nations Development Programme will provide support to national activities on advocacy, commitments and accountability to drive action on universal energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy goals. National activities may include designation of national coordinating mechanisms to facilitate wide stakeholder involvement by government, private-sector, civil society and development partners; advocacy and dialogue towards the formulation of national commitments; and accountability mechanisms to measure success.

Communications and Events – The UN Foundation will support the design and execution of a global multimedia advocacy and awareness campaign to raise the visibility of the energy access issue and the 30/30/307! goals. This will include engagement of prominent figures, including existing UN “Goodwill Ambassadors” as spokespeople.

Practitioner Network – The UN Foundation has formed a public-private partnership of practitioners in the energy access community to address barriers to the effective delivery of energy services, identify and disseminate best policies and practices, and promote the development of new technologies as well as innovative financial and business models. The network will also serve as an advocacy platform for the sector.

Key 2012 dates

January 16-18: Launch of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE

February 1: Asian Regional Rollout of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, New Delhi, India

February 19 (tent.): African Regional Rollout of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, Nairobi, Kenya

March (tent.): Americas Regional Rollout of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, Barbados

June 4-6: UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sept. 18-21: Report to the General Assembly on International Year of Sustainable Energy for All

December: Closing ceremony for the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All

Source: www.sustainableenergyforall.org

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