Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia
ECOSOC High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
Welcome Remarks at the panel “Investing into Climate Smart Economies: Energy Efficiency for SDG 13”
Excellencies, dear colleagues,
Climate change presents the single biggest threat to sustainable development.
It is already causing unprecedented impacts that disproportionately burden the poorest and most vulnerable.
In view of the UN Climate Summit in September, the Secretary General’s warning is very clear: we are already off-track with regard to the commitments made in Paris. At the same time, what was promised in Paris was not of itself enough to reach the Paris goal.
Furthermore, current temperature rises are already higher than was expected.
Therefore, strong political will and leadership are needed to push for urgent and ambitious action now.
Because the solutions to this challenge already exist.
First, we must make a drastic and urgent shift to renewable energy by phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and expanding carbon pricing. Second, we must curb energy demand through energy efficiency solutions.
The speed and scale of the renewable energy revolution holds the promise of not only reducing emissions, but of offering energy access to millions, which would drive sustainable development.
The barriers to unlocking this complete transition must be removed, why UNDP has launched a ‘climate promise’.
By 2020, UNDP will help 100 countries to develop bolder and more ambitious plans to tackle climate change and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Energy efficiency is a central part of this pledge.
Over the past 20 years UNDP has been working across Eastern Europe and Central Asia to catalyze and facilitate energy efficiency reforms.
These reforms took different paces in the different countries as they were going through political and economic transition.
For example, already in 1998 UNDP launched its first project with the Russian Federation addressing increased energy efficiency in district heating.
This project piloted new technologies and new forms of engagement with residents on energy management.
Since then, UNDP has supported a diverse portfolio of projects in Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and beyond.
UNDP has helped improve energy efficiency in public and residential buildings, in transport and urban systems, in the lighting sector and across industries.
Most recently, together with leading experts in the region, UNDP has piloted new technologies, smart energy management systems, and innovative financing mechanisms to catalyze private investment.
Recent examples include utility-scale wind projects in Belarus, and work in Kazakhstan to promote wind and solar energy.
Another example is a new initiative with Armenia in the building sector co-financed by the Green Climate Fund.
Regional platforms and organisations can also play an important role to spearhead energy efficiency reforms and to facilitate transfer of technologies and best practices. The new energy efficiency policy initiative that we have been supporting in the context of the Eurasian Economic Union is a good example.
Let me also point to the opportunity provided by the NDCs.
In Kazakhstan an NDC strategy centered around sustainable development, greater foreign investment, and a push toward renewable energy aims, above all, at increasing the share of renewable energy in total power generation by up to 50 per cent by 2050.
NDC implementation requires a whole-of-government approach, immense political will and building the right incentives into the transition to a green economy.
This is the level of ambition and integration which is needed. And we must all work together to make sure that the 2030 Agenda is accomplished. Climate change is the single biggest challenge to sustainable development. And if we do not put climate action at the forefront of our policy discussions and development strategies, then decades of development gains will be undone.
On the other hand, climate action provides an unprecedented opportunity to unlock massive economic and social benefits that can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind. Please count on UNDP’s continued support in making these ambitious goals reality.