25 November 2020
Plans Underway for First Inclusive Global Gathering on Energy Since 1981
Photo credit: Anastasia Palagutina/Unsplash
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The concept note for the September 2021 High-level Dialogue on Energy highlights that climate change remains the biggest threat over the long term, progress towards dealing with it remains grossly inadequate, and energy is inextricably linked to climate change.

The summit-level event will focus on five themes: Energy access; Energy transitions; Energy action to advance other SDGs; Capacity building and data; and Finance and investment.

Ministerial preparatory meetings are planned for the second quarter of 2021.

The UN’s energy community is preparing for a high-level event in 2021 to promote the implementation of SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) and contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. “SDG 7 is still within reach, but only if current efforts are significantly accelerated,” the organizers urge in the concept note.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) mandated the Secretary-General to convene the High-level Dialogue on Energy at the summit level during the 76th UNGA session in September 2021 (resolution 74/225). The Dialogue will represent the first “inclusive global gathering on energy under the auspices of the General Assembly” since the UN Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy convened in 1981.

UN Member States have begun expressing interest in acting as global champions for the five themes of the Dialogue.

In addition to advancing action for the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement, the Dialogue also aims to support the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, which concludes in 2024. At the mid-point of the Decade, in May 2019, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held a review for UN Member States and other stakeholders to discuss challenges and opportunities for achieving SDG 7.

Explaining the motivations for convening the Dialogue, the concept note asserts that “while COVID-19 is the most urgent threat facing humanity today, climate change remains the biggest threat over the long term and progress towards dealing with it remains grossly inadequate…. Energy is inextricably linked to climate change,” as it is to many other SDGs.

In addition, the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) identified “energy decarbonization with universal access” as a promising entry point for sustainable development transformations. More recently, energy is seen has having a central role to play in COVID-19 recovery efforts, as countries aim to adopt more resilient approaches to economic growth in the future.

The Dialogue will focus on five themes: Energy access; Energy transitions; Energy action to advance other SDGs; Capacity building and data; and Finance and investment. Representatives of Member States will act as “champions” for advocacy around each theme. Their role will include mobilizing national ‘Energy Compacts’ containing concrete actions to achieve SDG 7 and the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement. 

In an informal briefing for Member States on preparations for the Dialogue, held on 11 November 2020, some delegations expressed interest in acting as Global Champions for the themes. Expressions of interest are requested by 30 November.

Each theme will include substantive tracks for action and serve as a framework for developing the ‘Energy Compacts’ of voluntary commitments from Member States, the private sector, subnational authorities, and other stakeholders. A multi-stakeholder advisory group will focus on identifying and mobilizing “game-changing partnerships and commitments” for each theme.

In preparation for the High-level Dialogue, UN-Energy will organize expert consultations on the theme and tracks in the second quarter of 2021, which are expected to be co-hosted by the global champions for the respective themes, and develop summaries as inputs for ministerial preparatory meetings. More information on the thematic consultations was released on 9 November.

The co-chairs of the Dialogue are Achim Steiner, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, and Damilola Ogunbiyi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, who are also the co-chairs of UN-Energy. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) is serving as the secretariat for the Dialogue. [Concept Note] [Website for High-level Dialogue] [Note on thematic consultations

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