In September 2011, the UN Secretary-General appointed Kandeh Yumkella and Chad Holliday, then Chairman of Bank of America, as co-chairs of the High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All, after the General Assembly decided to designate 2012 as the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All.
As a member of the Rio+20 Principals Group, Yumkella played a crucial role in the preparations for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and the inclusion of energy as one of the Sustainable Development Goals. He also served as an active member of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), which helps to set and coordinate the global development priorities of the United Nations. From 2008-2015 United Nations Secretary-General appointed him Chair of UN-Energy in an effort to bring together all the United Nations organizations dealing with energy related issues.
In July 2013, Kandeh Yumkella took up his post as the first CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. Supported by a global team in Vienna and New York, he drove SEforALL's mission as a catalyst for action on three fronts: universal access to energy, increased energy efficiency and a greater share for renewables in the global energy mix.
Key moments of his time at SEforALL include the opening of the organization's office in Vienna, the launch of the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform, as well as the first two SEforALL Forums hosted at the UN in New York City.
"It has been an intense and uplifting experience to play a part in putting the goal of universal access to sustainable energy in its rightful place as a central pillar of the sustainable development agenda." Kandeh Yumkella
Before joining SEforALL Kandeh Yumkella served two terms as Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). From 2008 and during his tenure at SEforALL, Yumkella also chaired UN-Energy, convening UN organizations working on energy issues to help coordinate and accelerate progress.
In July 2015, Kandeh Yumkella stepped down as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and CEO of SEforALL to pursue a political career in his native Sierra Leone.