Cihan Sultanoğlu: Opening Speech at The UN Day Reception

Jun 13, 2017

Opening Speech for the UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Europe and the CIS, and UN Commissioner-General for EXPO Excellencies,


Ladies and Gentlemen,


On behalf of the United Nations, and as the UN Commissioner-General, I am pleased to welcome you all at the UN Day Reception for the EXPO-2017 in Astana.

Only a few days have passed since the opening of the EXPO, and already many inspirational and thought-provoking events have taken place at its premises.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Government of Kazakhstan for offering such a platform, which brings together 115 countries and 22 international organizations, including the United Nations agencies.

I express also our sincere appreciation and deep thanks to Mr. Yessimov, Chairman of the Board of the EXPO company, and all his staff, who have tirelessly worked with us during many preceding months to ensure that our participation in the EXPO is a success!

From the UN side, we were honoured that the UN Secretary-General visited Kazakhstan on 8-9 June, and attended the opening of the EXPO.

The UN Secretary-General stressed the significance of this Forum as an excellent opportunity to underline the importance and urgency in moving towards a more sustainable energy future, and reaffirmed the UN system’s continued support to the sustainable development agenda.

As you may know, 9 UN Agencies (UNDP, UNESCO, UNESCAP, UNIDO, IAEA, UNICEF, UNEP, UN Women and UNHCR) are exhibiting their best practices and experiences at the UN booths of the International Organizations Pavilion, and many agencies are participating through important policy events and symposiums.

In this regard, I am particularly grateful to the UN agencies for their dedication and for bringing to the fore their best experts and professionals.

For example, the ongoing 8th Energy Forum which began with the Energy Ministerial conference, co-organized by UNECE, UNESCAP and other economic commissions, together with the Government of Kazakhstan, is providing an important political and policy platform, with active contributions from national partners, many UN agencies and international organizations. They have been deliberating on themes of great significance to the world’s sustainability, ranging from energy efficiency and renewables to energy security, data and finance, performance standards and green technologies.

Also, today, within the framework of the 8th Energy Forum, we have conducted our UN day event which focused on Goal 7 of the SDGs – ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

From ‘high-level energy talk’ down to realities on the ground, I have witnessed excellent sustainable development initiatives of the people and communities all over Europe and CIS, the region I serve.

For example, yesterday, together with UN representatives and ambassadors of several countries, I visited the village of Arnasay, 35km outside of Astana city, which is striving to become the first carbon-neutral village in the country.

I was impressed to find that this village together with civil society activists established a ‘people’ academy’ where youth and farmers can learn to operate new technologies featured there.

Demonstration technologies supported by UNDP, such as the greenhouse with LED lighting in the basement of an old building, drip irrigation for farming, solar heating for the municipal buildings, organic soil production, and others, can help villagers grow vegetables and greens all year around.

To me, the Future Energy means that villagers such as in Arnasay can adopt simple, yet innovative technologies to develop new small business opportunities, and ultimately, improve their livelihoods.

Another interesting example is the Green Villages initiative which is a combination of innovative financing, green technology and renewable energy for remote areas in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, based on experiences of Croatia.

The main idea is to demonstrate how green energy, being systematically implemented, can stimulate businesses, generate opportunities for rural development and create jobs. The program is currently running in 19 locations, which have over 300 days of sun every year, making it particularly suited to clean, off grid solar energy projects.

Let me also refer to the UN joint programme implemented by UNESCO, UNFPA, WHO, UNV and UNDP in Uzbekistan, addressing the human security needs of more than 130,000 people (in districts of Karakalpakstan) and supporting local communities with better access to clean water and gas. This is done through the establishment of adequate governance systems, enhanced economic opportunity, education, health care and environmental security. It is a good example of UN agencies’ joint work in the region.

Through our interactions I have learned that such examples are abundant, and that communities all over the world are ready to embrace new sustainable practices, such as clean and affordable energy – because it makes sense!

I do hope that we can work together to prioritize the people’s needs in the spirit of ‘leaving no one behind’ and as a means of achieving the Paris Climate Agreements and Sustainable Development goals.

Ladies and Gentlemen, EXPO-2017 provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the ways to make “green energy”, its availability, sustainability and economy the main development trend for further decades. The spirit of this EXPO based on the principles of cooperation will contribute to its dynamic and constructive atmosphere.

Let me express once again our gratitude to all of you for your support to this cause – together we are stronger, and we can serve the people of the world with renewed energy, unity and commitment.

Thank you for your attention.

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