Energy Post 2015: Opening speech
dear friends; good morning!
Welcome to Oslo! It is great to see so many people gathered for this important event. And thank you, Minister Holmås, for hosting the conference.
According to the International Energy Agency, 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity. Moreover, 2.7 billion are without safe, accessible and clean cooking fuel. A vital challenge is to identify sources of financing – and ways to mobilize them to secure energy for all by 2030. Affordable energy and prospects of economic growth are crucial for lifting millions of people out of poverty.
Since 2003, I have been Goodwill Ambassador for the UNDP. Every year, I have had the opportunity to make a field trip together with the organization to learn how countries all around the world are working to reach the Millennium Development Goals. On these trips I have seen many examples of just how crucial access to energy is for people's livelihoods and quality of life, and for a country's ability to achieve the goals.
At the same time, our climate is showing signs of change that go beyond natural variability.
Last year, Minister Holmås and I visited Haiti together with UNDP – to learn about their work to protect the local communities from future nature disasters, amongst other things. UNDP is collaborating with the local authorities on projects to reduce the risk of flooding that can destroy crops and homes. The projects are targeted towards important preventive activities, including the construction of dikes and improvement of water channels and drainage. And we could really see on the ground there, from the work that was done, that this would make a huge difference to the people in the local community that lived right around the river.
Here, in the north, the dramatic consequences of climate change are already visible. In the Arctic, ice is melting at an accelerating pace. I have seen shrinking glaciers, such as the Kongsbreen glacier at Svalbard, which has retracted from the fjord and up the mountainside the last hundred years, quite dramatically. And at Greenland, I have seen old houses that have tilted to the side the last 15 years – even though they have been there a long, long time – and this because of the melting permafrost.
We are making progress on all the Millennium Development Goals. We might even have met goal number one of halving extreme poverty. To continue this positive development, future generations will be dependent on energy. At the same time, it is the young people of today who will feel the true impact of climate change. I am therefore pleased that this energy consultation has had a particular focus on this group - it is vital that young people’s voices are heard. They are also a driving force for change. We met a few of them already this morning, outside, when we created the art piece, inspired by Scream by Munch. And also the UN has shown leadership on this issue by appointing Mr Alhendawi as the Secretary- General’s Envoy on Youth. I am very much looking forward to your comments afterwards.
The global community faces the formidable task of providing sufficient energy to support future economic activity in both industrialised and developing countries - and providing it sustainably. This is a task that cannot be dealt with at a national or a regional level alone. It requires also a global effort. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for all the hard work you are putting into moving the world forward.
I hope this meeting will provide clear and sound recommendations on energy and sustainable development for the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and will play a part in creating the world we want. I wish you every success with the discussions to come, and it is therefore my honor to hereby open this meeting!
Thank you very much!