Statement by UN Botswana Resident Coordinator,Mr Anders Pedersen at the Botswana Renewable Energy Conference in Gaborone

Aug 11, 2014

As the UN, and UNDP in particular, we are most honoured to be part of this important conference. We see it as the beginning of a long-awaited dialogue on how to approach renewable energy in Botswana. We also see the hosting of this conference as a demonstration of political commitment to put access to sustainable energy at the core of the development discourse in Botswana. As the UN, we are working on ensuring that energy issues are successfully imbedded in the post-2015 development debate. At the global level, the UN together with other development partners have committed to providing technical and financial support to country-level action towards achieving sustainable energy for all, in pursuit of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, or SE4ALL. 

The SE4ALL Initiative was launched in 2011, with three main objectives to be achieved by the year 2030. These are: 
(a) Ensuring universal access to modern energy services; 
(b) Doubling the rate of improvements in energy efficiency; and 
(c) Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. 
Achieving these objectives will get us closer to eradicating poverty and saving the planet. The Initiative calls on everyone to take action to shape the policy and investment decisions needed for a brighter energy future. While industrialised countries must accelerate the transition to low-emission technologies, developing countries, have the opportunity to leapfrog conventional energy options in favour of cleaner energy alternatives that will drive growth and enhance economic and social development. 

A total of 83 developing countries have taken a decision to participate in the SE4ALL Initiative. Botswana has also recognised the importance of the Initiative and announced its participation at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012. Through participation in the SE4ALL Initiative, Botswana is also agreeing to ensuring universal access to modern energy services for all Batswana; working towards doubling the rate of improvements in energy efficiency and increasing the share of renewable energy in the national energy mix. I know that the global SE4ALL goals mirror those already expressed by the Government of Botswana through its different strategies and in particular the draft Energy Policy. Steps towards the goals of SE4ALL are also steps towards Sustainable Development, a development pathway that Botswana has committed itself to through several initiatives including the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa and the process of formulating a National Strategy for Sustainable Development.

Botswana, like many countries in the region, have an incredible potential for developing renewable energy, particularly solar. This is why as UNDP, we support the dialogue on transitioning towards renewable energy, and continue to put resources into piloting new technologies and interventions such as Solar PV and bio-energy production. In the last two years, we have provided close to 10 million Pula worth of support towards the procurement and distribution of solar home systems in rural Botswana. And we are supporting the establishment of a Renewable Energy Fund that will facilitate easy access for start-up capital and other financing mechanism for individuals and small businesses who want to use and promote the up-take of solar technologies. This year we are working on putting together an initiative amounting to almost 25 million Pula to pilot the generation of bio-energy from waste. This way we will generate lessons that help us better understand and invest in sustainable energy and waste management solutions. While addressing waste and energy solutions, these interventions also contribute to a transition towards a low-carbon climate resilient economy. As you will agree, if we all do our part to reduce our carbon footprint, no matter how small it is, collectively, the world stands a better chance of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. Climate science tells us that the consequences of surpassing that 2 degrees warming would be nothing less than catastrophic and irreversible. The energy sector is one of the key sectors that need to be transformed to avoid this, as part of a low-carbon development pathway.
Transitioning towards renewable energy requires the creation of an enabling environment through the development of policies, strategies and programmes that include:
Investing in renewable technology research and development;
Promoting the meaningful participation of the private sector in the energy sector, including its contribution to shaping renewable energy policies and strategies;
Empowering all groups, particularly women, children and the poor, to ensure that they also access modern energy services and participate fully in the growth and development of the sector.

For us as the UN, we view these are issues as important and central to sustainable human development, building resilience and to reducing vulnerabilities of individuals, households, communities and nations. We therefore continue to commit ourselves to supporting efforts towards achieving these ideals.

In conclusion, I would like to remind all of us that in December 2012, the UN General assembly adopted a resolution on the UN Decade of SE4ALL (2014-2024). The first two years of the Decade have been dedicated to the nexus between Energy, Women, Children and Health. I think we can all appreciate the importance of this nexus if we consider the role of women and children in energy access, especially in rural contexts. Over the next ten years, we must accelerate action towards achieving the goals of the Initiative, and support is available through the Africa SE4ALL Coordination Hub hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB).  Since the AfDB is present at this conference, I believe they will provide more information on their work, including how countries can make effective use of this hub. At the global level, partners have pledged up to US$50 billion towards supporting the Initiative. I also know that the recent US-Africa Summit pledged significant resources towards clean energy among others. The US President’s Power Africa initiative has specifically pledged, together with private sector partners, the World Bank, and other governments, a total of US$12 billion. Power Africa seeks to increase access to energy by unlocking the substantial wind, solar, hydropower, natural gas, and geothermal resources in Africa to enhance energy security, decrease poverty, and advance economic growth.

It is clear that the world stands ready for action on renewable and clean energy as part of the fight against poverty and inequality and towards building resilience and addressing climate change. This conference is therefore a significant step in the right direction, and complements other efforts already underway through various initiatives. I wish you a very productive two days of dialoguing, exchanging lessons and charting the way towards a cleaner, sustainable development pathway, in which renewable energy plays a central role. Once again I commend Botswana for its continental leadership on a critically important development challenge. Thank you!

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