Power to all the people of the world

Sustainable Energy for All, a new initiative launched by the World Bank and United Nations, aims to use green power to ensure access to electricity for "everyone in the world".

"Power will come from cleaner sources," said World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim at the inaugural meeting of the coalition's advisory board in Washington last month.

"Families will be spared the harmful effects of indoor air pollution from cooking and heating with wood and waste. People and firms all over will be using energy more responsibly and efficiently.

"Imagine that world. We have the incredible opportunity of making all this happen through our collective will and effort."

Kim co-chairs the 34-member advisory board with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. He called on leaders from private and public sectors, civil society and international organisations "to find a way to hold our feet to the fire" in delivering sustainable energy goals.

The group aims to achieve three objectives by 2030: universal access to electricity and safe household fuels; double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix; and double the rate of improvement of energy efficiency.

Ban said the partnership between the two global institutions represented "a new era in World Bank-UN relations", and promised to mobilise their combined convening power to act on renewables.

The advisory board's members include President Olafur Ragnar Grímsson of Iceland. He described how his country had evolved from a "developing country" of fishermen and farmers into a nation with a "clean-energy economy driven by economic motives" in which 100% of household electricity and heating come from clean sources.

While Iceland's energy model is built on tapping its abundant subsoil geothermal resources, Grímsson emphasised the "bottom-up" nature of its development, in which clean energy innovations were made "street by street, and village by village".

Sustainable Energy for All advisory board members provide strategic guidance and serve as global ambassadors, conducting high-level advocacy for action on energy.

Chad Holliday, chairperson of Bank of America, chairs its 10-member executive committee.

Since Ban launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative a year ago, it has developed action plans in 40 of the more than 70 countries that have opted in to the initiative.

It has also defined a series of "high-impact opportunities" in which its partners will focus efforts, including innovative financing for energy projects, clean cooking solutions, phasing out gas flaring, off-grid lighting, renewable energy procurement, and lighting and appliance efficiency.

Christopher Neal is the senior communications officer for the World Bank's sustainable energy department

This feature has been made possible by the Mail & Guardian's advertisers. Contents and photographs were sourced independently by the M&G's supplements editorial team. It forms part of the bigger supplement.

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