UN High-level Dialogue on Energy: Curtain-raiser Virtual Press Briefing

09:00 EDT
15 Sep 2021
09:30 EDT
15 Sep 2021

With the Co-Chairs of the High-level Dialogue on Energy Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP and Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All

Media: Register at https://forms.gle/5fS4yLULpFHsjj3T6 to submit questions

Faced with the rapidly accelerating impacts of climate change and the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions from the energy sector—while ensuring that all people have access to electricity and clean energy—the UN is bringing together Heads of State and Government as well as leaders from business, foundations and other organizations on 24 September to mobilize commitments and actions.

The High-level Dialogue on Energy, which will be convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the summit level at the request of the General Assembly, is a historic opportunity to close this gap, as the first gathering of leaders in more than 40 years at the UN solely devoted to energy issues. 

It will produce a roadmap toward net-zero emissions and universal energy access and provide an opportunity for governments, as well as businesses and civil society organizations, to present plans and commitments in the form of “Energy Compacts”, which will help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 and the Paris Agreement.

Energy Compacts

As of early September, over 100 Energy Compacts have been submitted from organizations in over 26 countries, including Member States, businesses, UN and international organizations, foundations, financial institutions, regions and cities, and civil society groups including several youth networks. They include commitments on boosting access to electricity and clean cooking, increasing the share of renewables and energy efficiency, spurring investment and showcasing other new technologies. Many more Compacts are expected prior to the High-level Dialogue and in the months ahead, as the commitments are tracked through the 2030 target year and partnerships expanded.

Among the large-scale Energy Compacts already previewed, the Rockefeller Foundation and IKEA Foundation have committed USD 1 billion to spearhead a new global funding platform and empower 1 billion people with access to distributed renewable energy, such as mini-grids. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) pledged to invest an additional USD 1.3 billion by 2023 to finance district energy investments and other services as part of its Green Cities programme in nearly 40 countries.


Ahead of the Dialogue, Energy Action Days will bring together businesses, cities, foundations, youth and other civil society representatives to announce their own Energy Compact commitments and mobilize partnerships for transformative action.

Register for the Energy Action Days here.

22 September
7:00-9:30 am (EDT)

The Power of SDG7 to Create a Better Future for People and Planet

23 September
7:00-9:30 am (EDT)

Let’s Get it Done: Catalytic Finance for Universal Energy Access and Energy Transition

24 September
9:30-10:00 am (EDT)

Opening of the High-level Dialogue on Energy, with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, President of the UN General Assembly Abdulla Shahid, and business and youth leaders

24 September
10:00 am-6:00 pm (EDT)

High-level Dialogue on Energy – statements by Heads of State and Government, and business and other leaders as time permits

Dialogue closing remarks by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Dialogue Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin



The recent IPCC report showed that urgent action is needed to keep the 1.5°C goal in reach, in order to limit the impacts of climate change.  At the same time, this goal will not be reached unless all people have access to clean, affordable and reliable energy, as agreed to by all countries as part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals -- Goal 7.

Globally there are 759 million people without access to electricity. A further 800 million or more people have unreliable or intermittent access to the essential electricity that is needed at home, work, school, health facilities and community services for people to live healthy and productive lives. Nearly 3 billion people do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies.

The energy sector currently accounts for almost three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions. While energy access-deficit countries may contribute little today to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, achieving access for everyone to sufficient energy for productive use, industrialization and economic growth would cause their emissions to increase significantly if that energy comes from fossil fuels, such as coal-fired power and continued use of diesel-powered generators.

Taking place less than two months before the critical Climate Conference in Glasgow this November—COP 26—the Energy Dialogue is also an important step towards mobilizing commitments and defining the actions that will enable countries to reduce their emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement.

Media contacts 

UN DGC: Dan Shepard, shepard@un.org
HLDE Secretariat, UN DESA: Pragati Pascale, pascale@un.org, Daniella Sussman, daniella.sussman@un.org
UNDP: Sarah Bel, sarah.bel@undp.org
SEforALL: Divya Kottadiel, divya.kottadiel@seforall.org