NEW YORK, September 24, 2012 — Pledging assistance toward a problem that affects more than a billion people mired in poverty, World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim announced today that the World Bank will join a United Nations initiative aimed at increasing the poor’s access to electricity and clean household fuels. The effort also will expand renewable energy and enhance energy efficiency.
Dr. Kim will co-chair a multi-stakeholder advisory board with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that will provide strategic guidance to the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, launched by Ban Ki-moon last fall. A UN General Assembly resolution named 2012 as a year devoted to sustainable energy for all.
“Ending poverty and ensuring sustainability are the defining challenges of our time,” Kim said. “Energy is central to both of them.”
An estimated 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity, and 2.7 billion depend on wood, charcoal, dung, and coal to cook meals and heat their homes.
Dr. Kim praised the UN Secretary-General for “bold vision and leadership” in taking on the challenge. The Sustainable Energy for All initiative calls on governments, businesses and civil society to achieve three goals by 2030: achieve universal access to energy, including electricity and modern cooking and heating fuels; double the renewable share of power produced and consumed from 15% to 30%; and double the energy efficiency improvement rate.
“Providing sustainable energy for all could be the biggest opportunity of the 21st century,” said the Secretary-General. “Sustainable energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity, and a climate and environment that enables the world to thrive. This initiative is bringing together governments, the private sector, and civil society in a partnership that’s delivering real results.”
Dr. Kim committed the World Bank Group to mobilize its knowledge and policy expertise to increase the impact of its financing of energy projects, which has been just over $8 billion in each of the past two years.
Specifically, the Bank Group will be providing technical assistance to help several countries develop comprehensive energy access programs. The Bank Group also will seek to leverage additional funds by seeking at least $2 of financing from other sources for every $1 the World Bank provides. It will partner with multilateral institutions, bilateral agencies and private sector investors for more funding.
“This is a grand coalition, like that driving the Millennium Development Goals,” Dr. Kim said. “Donors, middle-income countries, and low-income countries all make commitments tailored to their distinct capacities and resources. Each country, company, organization and industry contributes in its own way—whether it is increased funding, new policy incentives, new methods or technologies, or new partnerships.”
Thus far, 61 countries have opted in to the initiative, while businesses, investors and donors have committed a total of $50 billion towards achieving the initiative’s three goals.