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World Bank Joins Leadership of Sustainable Energy for All

Solar panels power a rural shop in Sri Lanka. World Bank/Dominic Sansoni

Sept. 24, 2012

“Ending poverty and ensuring sustainability are the defining challenges of our time. Energy is central to both of them.” – Jim Kim, President, The World Bank

What will it take to end poverty? Part of the answer lies in access to sustainable energy and the benefits it provides, such as lighting that keeps shops open longer and allows children to study into the evening, electricity that powers technology from cell phones to weather radios, and safer household fuels for cooking and comfort.

The UN launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative last fall to bring the world closer to that goal by increasing access to electricity and clean household fuels and expanding the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

On Monday, the World Bank announced that it would formally join the initiative, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon introduced World Bank President Jim Kim as his co-chair of the multi-stakeholder advisory board that provides strategic guidance to the Sustainable Energy for All (SEFA) initiative.

SE4All 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%.

• Double the energy efficiency improvement rate.

“Ending poverty and ensuring sustainability are the defining challenges of our time,” Dr. Kim said. “Energy is central to both of them.”

Dr. Kim praised the secretary-general for bold vision and leadership in taking on the challenge. Globally, 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, fuels that can contribute to illnesses and premature deaths.

“Providing sustainable energy for all could be the biggest opportunity of the 21st century,” Ban said. “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.”

The Sustainable Energy for All initiative calls on governments, businesses, and civil society to meet 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.

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.

In addition to financing, the Bank Group will provide 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.”

Sixty-one countries have opted in to the initiative, and businesses, investors, and donors have committed a total of $50 billion towards achieving the initiative’s three goals. The countries, 25 of them in Africa, account for about 80% of global population without access to electricity.

The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), administered by the Bank, has already completed six “rapid assessment” country studies under the auspices of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.

Each of these assessments reviews a specific country’s electricity and household fuels’ access gaps, as well as its status on renewable energy development and energy efficiency practice. Other SEFA partners, including the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, InterAmerican Development Bank, European Commission and the United Nations Development Programme, are carrying out assessments for other countries. ESMAP will also deliver a technical assistance program for energy access in five developing countries.

Other activities under the SEFA framework in which the Bank Group is playing a leadership role include:

  • expand access programs such as Lighting Africa, which develops off-grid lighting markets, to provide affordable lighting to 250 million people by 2030
  • advance the clean cooking agenda by supporting clean cookstoves and household fuels programs in Africa, South and East Asia, and Central America
  • provide risk mitigation for clean energy investments
  • support development of geothermal power in developing countries
  • support cities in improving energy efficiency
  • help countries undertake mapping of renewable energy resources
  • support small island developing states’ investments in clean energy
  • expand the Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership, to capture and productively use gas that previously would have been flared.



Last updated: 2012-09-24

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