Recapping COP25: SEforALL urges SDG7 movement to focus on 'implementation' in decade ahead


The 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) was a busy two weeks for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), having co-hosted and participated in several key events and meetings. Above all, SEforALL used COP25 as a strategic moment for introducing incoming CEO Damilola Ogunbiyi, driving progress on energy efficiency and drawing attention to the urgent need for clean cooking finance.

Introducing new SEforALL leadership

Damilola Ogunbiyi, incoming CEO of SEforALL, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Sustainable Energy for All and UN-Energy Co-Chair, attended COP25 in Madrid, providing opening remarks at a UN side event and meeting with key partners of SEforALL in the lead up to her officially starting in new roles on 1 January.

During her opening remarks at the high-level event titled Accelerating the energy transformation in support of sustainable development and the Paris Agreement, Ogunbiyi stressed the need for a sharp focus on enabling implementation of energy access projects. "As we enter the last decade of the SDGs, we need to ensure that our decisions and our actions are delivering real change on the ground," she said. "A key element of our overall success will depend on our ability to collaborate more effectively and to build networks that will enable effective implementation." 

She went on to explain the pivotal role that a reinvigorated UN-Energy can play in this regard. "As SRSG for energy and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, I will make sure that UN-Energy will provide essential leadership in terms of advancing our actions and collaborations."

While at COP, Ogunbiyi also met with Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, newly appointed Minister of Environment for the Government of Rwanda, to discuss plans for the upcoming 2020 SEforALL Forum, which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda from 26-28 May.

Three Percent Club on energy efficiency

In September, at the UN Climate Summit, a series of partners including SEforALL launched an important global initiative called the Three Percent Club. This is a collaboration of governments and supporting organizations committed to working together to put the world on a path to a three percent annual efficiency improvement.

The Club had its own series of events and activities at COP25 in Madrid to help it build momentum and attract new partners.

One of the sentiments expressed at COP25 by Three Percent Club partners was that the SDG7.3 target of doubling the global energy efficiency rate by 2030 takes a backseat compared to other SDG7 targets and climate action measures.  

The Three Percent Club is bringing energy efficiency to the forefront of the SDG7 movement. There is already a long list of countries who have pledged their support for the Club, and in doing so have committed to the three percent efficiency improvement target. This list includes Argentina, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Portugal, Senegal and the United Kingdom.

As a result of the COP25 sessions, several more countries have expressed their interest in joining, along with some of the world's largest companies who are improving the efficiency of their operations and looking to support countries with their efficiency efforts. "No is not an answer anymore, it can be 'how' or 'not that way', but not 'no'," said Steven Kukoda, President of International Copper Association, which joined Three Percent Club back in September and took part in the Club activities at COP25.

Clean cooking finance

Finance for clean cooking was the central theme of a SEforALL-organized COP25 event called The Heat is On: Ingredients to Close the SDG7 Clean Cooking Finance Gap by 2030. Olivia Coldrey, Lead Finance Specialist at SEforALL, led a practical discussion involving government, implementation partners and think tanks on best practices in closing clean cooking access gaps and the related issue of increasing access to finance for women to purchase energy services.

During the SDG7 Roundtable organized by the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, António Mexia, Chair of SEforALL’s Administrative Board and CEO of EDP (Energias de Portugal), also highlighted urgency of addressing the clean cooking access gaps and stressed that, based on current projections, 2.7 billion people will still be without clean cooking solutions in 2030.

He called for consistent political commitment for sustainable energy—including an end to fossil fuel subsidies—long-term energy planning based on improved data and increased private funding for energy access as a roadmap for closing both clean cooking and electricity access gaps.