The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 20 September to move forward the sustainable energy agenda and support Sustainable Development Goal 7. United in their common goal to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, both sides commit to advancing on the interlinked SDGs to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. The new strategic framework for cooperation was signed by Liu Zhenmin, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and Francesco La Camera, the Director-General of IRENA, on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly in New York.
“Energy lies at the heart of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” Mr. Liu said.“Advancement in SDG 7 has the potential to spur progress across the other SDGs— on poverty eradication, gender equality, climate change mitigation and adaptation, food security, health, education, sustainable cities and communities, clean water and sanitation, jobs, innovation, transport, and the treatment of refugees and other displaced people.”
“Renewable energy is the most effective climate action tool available,” Mr. La Camera said. “Together with energy efficiency they are key to sustainable development, enabling energy access, spurring economic growth, creating employment and improving health. Today’s agreement is a signal of a shared commitment between our organizations to advance sustainable energy for all by 2030, particularly to the world’s poorest populations.”
The cooperation ensures progress in areas such as renewable energy, access to energy, climate change, financing for sustainable development and the energy transition. Particularly, the interlinkages of SDG 7 with other SDGs are highlighted, such as gender equality, good health, clean water and decent work.
Additionally, the common goal will be supported in intergovernmental discussions, such as the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024, the UN Climate Change Conferences (COPs) and the IRENA Assembly, as well as the UN Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14 and the Global Sustainable Transport Conference next year. Moreover, through the multi-stakeholder Technical Advisory Group, UN DESA and IRENA will work united to review SDG 7.
UN DESA and IRENA share a long history of working together. Most recently, the two entities co-organized an event on 16 July at the HLPF to scale up climate action through clean energy transition to deliver on the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. Noteworthy outcomes of these discussions will contribute to UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit and the SDG Summit in September 2019.
IRENA also collaborated with the UN for another HLPF side event on 17 July to scale up energy transition in small island developing states (SIDS) and to enhance progress in renewable energies. The work helped pave the way for the Mid-term Review of the SAMOA Pathway taking place on 27 September.