NEW DELHI, 5 February 2014 – Kandeh K. Yumkella, Secretary-General’s Special Representative  for Sustainable Energy for All and Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, today challenged countries across Asia to commit to achieving sustainable energy for all by the year 2030 by increasing access to energy, improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewables.


Speaking at the Asia regional launch of the UN Decade for Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024), Yumkella, who also chairs UN- Energy, the coordinating arm of UN agencies dealing with energy related issues, noted that  “sustainable energy is not about poor countries alone but about rich and emerging countries as well” working together in strong partnerships especially with the private sector to transforms the world’s current energy system, one based on fossil fuels and threatens man’s existence and prosperity.


For the 1.4 billion who lack electricity, Yumkella noted that access to modern energy services is critical and services such as  lighting, refrigeration, and clean water are essential for social and economic development in nearly every sector.  “In the health sector, it is more than that – it can mean the difference between life and death,” he said. In Africa and South Asia where millions live in abject poverty, reports suggest women and children are the most affected and lack of energy is the number two killer of women around the world.


In developed and emerging nations, there is need for more cleaner sources of energy including renewable energy and making significant investments in energy efficiency to allow for economic productivity and reducing the effects of climate change. “We must come together to accelerate the pace of innovations in the energy sectors to meet both the demands of higher populations, higher rates of urbanization and the desire of developing countries and emerging economies to industrialize and create wealth for their own citizens,” Yumkella underscored.


Recognizing that the effects of energy-poverty is most devastating to women and children including more deaths (four millions or 80% ) from indoor pollution and worse than HIV and malaria combined, and children dying pneumonia, premature asthma among others, CEO Yumkella announced that the initiative on Sustainable Energy for All is dedicating the first two years of the decade (2014-2015)  to the Energy-Women–Children–Health Nexus to raise awareness about the potential benefits modern energy services can bring to women and children.


In 2012 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously declared 2014‑2024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, underscoring the importance of energy issues for sustainable development and for the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda.