UN sustainable development meeting in search for balanced solutions on energy
Energy policies that can fuel economic and social development while reducing air pollution and the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change will be considered by more than 2,000 participants at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development's (CSD) annual session, which starts on Monday in New York.
Almost 80 government ministers are expected to attend the Commission, which will attempt to chart a sustainable course of action on the interlinked issues of energy, climate change, air pollution and industrial development.
The chair of this year's session, Abdullah Hamad Al-Attiyah, Qatar's Energy Minister, stressed ahead of the opening that all delegates should remember that many people still do not have access to modern energy services.
About one in four people around the world do not have electricity, and an estimated 2.4 billion use traditional fuels such as firewood or dung for cooking or heating.
“As long as women and children have to forage for firewood, for as long as students cannot read after sunset, and as long as new businesses and industries cannot get the power they need to operate, we cannot expect to achieve development that is economically, socially and environmentally balanced,” he said.
Noting the gravity of the challenges ahead, Mr. Al-Attiyah said the task for this year's CSD session is to decide specific policy options and practical measures that can work.
“I am optimistic about the future,” he said. “The coming decades will witness significant investments in energy infrastructure, as well as in industrial development. We must seize the opportunity to make a difference by making the right policy decisions and choices.”
This year's CSD will mark the 20th anniversary of the Brundtland Commission report, Our Common Future, that was seen as a landmark document on sustainable development. To mark the anniversary, Gro Harlem Brundtland – a former Norwegian prime minister and director-general of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) – is planning to address the high-level portion of the meeting on 9 May.
Energy use is expected to grow by 50 per cent over the next 25 years, with two thirds of that increase in developing countries. But there are numerous competing national and global energy issues that are also under consideration, including access to affordable energy, as well as reliable and clean energy supplies.
The CSD brings together government delegates and representatives of civil society, including women, children and youth, indigenous people, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business, academia, local authorities, scientists, workers and trade unions.