Jointly Build a Zero-Carbon Energy System to Further Advance the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Side-Event of the 2023 UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Convened in New York

New York, NY - (NewMediaWire) - July 17, 2023 - The Side-Event of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development: Jointly Build a Zero-Carbon Energy System to Further Advance the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was held at the UN Headquarters in New York on July 13, local time. This event was jointly hosted by the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO), the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and the Council of Engineers for the Energy Transition (CEET). Liu Zehong, Executive Vice Chairman of GEIDCO, made a video speech.

This event was attended and addressed by Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General; Dai Bing, Deputy Permanent Representative and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of China to the UN; Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, UN Under-Secretary-General, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP); Rola Dashti, UN Under-Secretary-General, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA); Michal Mlynár, Deputy Executive Director of United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); Obeth Mbuipaha Kandjoze, Director General of the National Planning Commission and Minister of Economic Planning of Namibia; Mourad Wahba, Officer in Charge, UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF); and Ligia Noronha, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the UNEP New York Office. Video speeches were given by Jeffrey Sachs, President of SDSN; Sanda Ojiambo, Assistant Secretary-General and CEO, United Nations Global Compact; and Andrés Rebolledo, Executive Secretary of OLADE. This event was chaired by Cheng Zhiqiang, Executive Secretary for Cooperation of GEIDCO.

Liu Zehong highlighted that in September 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) initiative during the UN Sustainable Development Summit. This visionary proposal offered a Chinese solution to facilitate global energy transition and promote sustainable development. He introduced that GEI embodies a modern energy system characterized by a dominant presence of clean energy, an emphasis on electricity, and extensive interconnectivity. This transformative system plays a crucial role as a catalyst for a secure, cost-effective, and efficient energy transition, and an enabler for sustainable development. The development of GEI expedites the transition to clean and low-carbon energy, propelling infrastructure upgrades and fostering high-quality economic development. Moreover, it contributes to safeguarding the ecological environment, alleviating poverty and hunger, and reducing regional development disparities. These efforts pave the way for a new global paradigm characterized by green and low-carbon development, peace and harmony, and shared prosperity. GEI provides a holistic, systematic, and widely applicable solution for realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Li Junhua emphasized the significant role of the GEI Initiative in promoting global infrastructure and clean energy development. He highlighted that it would contribute to advancing global energy transformation, addressing climate change, and resolving existing challenges. Dai Bing commended China's commitment to green and low-carbon development, its proactive stance on climate change, and its leadership in global energy governance. He said that China is will to collaborate with all parties to ensure stability and uninterrupted supply in the international energy market. Furthermore, China aims to expedite sustainable energy development through initiatives such as the green Belt and Road and the Global Development Initiative (GDI).

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana stressed the importance of accelerating energy transformation and establishing a zero-carbon system for economic development in the Asia-Pacific region. She noted that regional power grid interconnection enjoys broad support among member countries, as it facilitates cooperation, political consensus, and sustainable development. Rola Dashti highlighted the significance of advancing energy interconnection in the Arab world. This initiative would greatly promote renewable energy development, alleviate power supply issues in West Asian and neighboring countries, and contribute to achieving global carbon neutrality. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) looked forwards to establishing long-term cooperative relations with GEIDCO.

Michal Mlynár emphasized that the GEI would enable countries to fully leverage renewable energy, reduce power supply costs, and enhance social and national stability. He expressed hope that countries would promote power grid interconnection and collaborate with GEIDCO to provide innovative solutions for combating climate change, promoting environmental protection, and building sustainable cities and human settlements. Jeffrey Sachs stated that the research report Towards Sustainable Development released by GEIDCO shows the leading and driving role of energy transformation from multiple dimensions such as energy, economy, society and environment, and provides a road map for global enterprises to accelerate clean transformation.

Obeth Mbuipaha Kandjoze described the GEI as a modern energy system that will facilitate the realization of a low-carbon, green, and sustainable energy economy and society. He viewed the report released by GEIDCO as an innovative solution for achieving clean energy transformation, reducing environmental pollution, and promoting sustainable development. Mourad Wahba expressed concern over the severe power shortage in many underdeveloped countries and regions, which significantly hampers local living standards and social progress. He expressed the desire to collaborate with GEIDCO to stimulate economic growth and improve societal well-being.

Sanda Ojiambo acknowledged the escalating severity of global challenges such as climate change, environmental pollution, and resource constraints. She emphasized the urgency of accelerating actions without delay, as these challenges seriously threaten humanity's survival and development. The UN Global Compact expressed its eagerness to deepen cooperation with GEIDCO in order to achieve the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ligia Noronha emphasized the increasingly critical issue of climate change facing the world. She called for extensive international cooperation to accelerate energy transition and establish a zero-carbon energy system, ultimately achieving sustainable development. Andrés Rebolledo praised the pivotal role played by GEIDCO in achieving SDG 7 and net-zero emissions, and believed that the release of Towards Sustainable Development provides a complete set of solutions for achieving carbon neutrality globally and regionally, which will make a major contribution to the global effort to address the climate crisis and energy transition.

The Panel Discussion, moderated by Gloria Alvarenga, Acting Director of Energy Integration, Access, and Security at OLADE, featured a number of key speakers. Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Director and Executive Coordinator of Nature, Climate, and Energy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Raf Tuts, Director of the Global Solutions Division at UN-Habitat, Nassim Oulmane, Chief of the Green and Blue Economy Section at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Philip Moeller, Executive Vice President of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), and Semida Silveira and Jaideep Sandhu, representatives of the Council of Engineers for the Energy Transition, all shared their insights.

They emphasized that the current state of human sustainability is under threat from significant economic, social, and environmental challenges. Of particular concern is the intensifying severity of climate change and environmental issues, which have evolved into a global crisis demanding urgent attention and resolution. Accelerating clean energy development and power interconnection via GEI, will be instrumental in achieving green, low-carbon, and sustainable development. These efforts are vital in addressing the crisis effectively and ensuring a secure future for humanity.

At the event, GEIDCO released the Global Energy Interconnection - Pathway Towards 2030 Sustainable Development. This report points out that, at present, the extensive development and use of fossil energy have resulted in resources, climate, environmental and health problems, which are significant obstacles to achieving sustainable development. Further, there is an immediate need to accelerate the green and low-carbon energy transition. GEI will generate nine benefits: accelerating clean energy development, expanding grid interconnection, enhancing electrification, securing power supply, reducing pollution emissions, promoting technological innovation, facilitating industrial upgrading, increasing investment and trade, and building a cooperation platform. These benefits will comprehensively align with the 17 SDGs of the 2030 Agenda, play a key role in realizing SDGs 7, 8 and 13, and provide crucial support for realizing ten goals, including SDGs 1, 3 and 6.

The report puts forward Ten Actions and Six Mechanisms for implementing the 2030 Agenda, providing global solutions and practical paths for advancing sustainable development. The Ten Actions include 6 constructive actions: clean development, power grid interconnection, universal access to electricity, electricity replacement, smart grid, and energy efficiency improvement, and 4 supportive actions: concept promotion, innovation-driven, capacity building, and policy support. The Six Mechanisms include global power grid planning, power engineering project, integrated electricity-carbon trade, interconnected power grid coordination, energy development assistance, and collaboration in technical standards.

The event also put forward the Jointly Build a Zero-Carbon Energy System to Further Advance Sustainable Development Initiative. It proposes that all parties should commit to promoting green development and building consensus on energy transition, prioritize openness and cooperation in building a zero-carbon energy system, pursue innovation-driven development to speed up the scientific and technological revolution in energy, and ensure universal accessibility for the common development of mankind.

More than 60 participants were present at the event, representing the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), UNDP, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), CEET, and SDSN.

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