The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen has joined former United States Vice President Al Gore to urge support for the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's initiative to achieve universal access to modern energy services by 2030.
In a video messages that started airing this week, Ms. Bündchen and Mr. Gore stand with the head of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Kandeh K. Yumkella, to advocate for the Secretary-General's Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.
"Energy can transform economies, lives, continents, our planets. We have a historic chance to eliminate energy poverty," say Mr. Gore, Mr. Yumkella and Ms. Bündchen.
"Let's bring energy to all - for power, women, progress, growth, our future, energy for all."
Worldwide, almost 3 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, and about 1.5 billion have no access to electricity, according to UNEP.
The Sustainable Energy for All Initiative aims to achieve three inter-linked global targets by 2030: universal access to modern energy services; the doubling of energy efficiency; and the doubling of the share of renewable energy in the world's energy mix.
At the Rio+20 Conference last year, the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative received over US$50 billion in commitments towards actions under the initiative.
"Now it is down to making sure commitments are transformed into kilowatt hours for the people, and to support governments to do for the energy sector what they did for mobile phones - deregulate or unbundle the sector and incentivize private sector participation," said Mr. Yumkella.
Last week, UNEP released new studies for 75 countries showing the major environmental and health benefits of replacing traditional fuel-based lamps with modern solar lighting in communities living off the electricity grid. In Kenya, for example, the costs of replacing kerosene lamps, candles, flashlights with solar LED lighting systems could be recovered in 7 months, and could save over 2 million tones in carbon dioxide emissions each year.
Supporting both sustainable off-grid and on-grid lighting delivers also delivers educational and health benefits, through reduced indoor air pollution and lower risks of fires and burns.
Ensuring environmental sustainability is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); anti-poverty targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.
The Brussels based United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe - UNRIC provides information on UN activities to the countries of the region. It also provides liaison with institutions of the European Union in the field of information. Its outreach activities extend to all segments of society and joint campaigns, projects and events are organized with partners including the EU, governments, the media, NGOs, schools and local authorities.
United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC Brussels)
Residence Palace, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 155, Block C2,7th and 8th floor, Brussels 1040, Belgium
Tel.: +32 2 788 8484 / Fax: 32 2 788 8485