By Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella
… the elements of inclusive and sustainable industrial development should be at the top of the list in discussions on the new development framework beyond 2015.
And indeed, I do expect that the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel will look closely at the role of economic growth; and that the Open Working Group of Member States on Sustainable Development Goals – which holds its first meeting in Liberia in the coming days – will seek to grasp the growth, development and sustainability nexus. I also have strong expectations concerning how these groups will approach one issue in particular – that of sustainable energy for all to power growth and prosperity– but I will come back to this shortly.
The crux of the matter is not so much whether the need for broad-based sustainable growth will be acknowledged, but rather what role will be accorded to global action. The MDGs’great success, we are told, lay in their clarity, simplicity and outcome-oriented nature. It is relatively easy to communicate the need to provide education or maternal health, and to agree on related global goals. It is less easy to establish a global goal or, say, the inclusivity of economic growth, much less the industrial share of the economy. To some commentators, this alone precludes a role for economic growth and industrial development in the post-2015 goals. Others cite as reasons a reluctance to return to the days before a more human-centered approach to development, or uncertainty about the environmental and resource impacts of expanding the productive capabilities of African countries.
However, I believe this is a false dichotomy between economic development and social development. Let me allay some of the concerns and set out a vision for how we can bring the growth of our Continent back into the development equation.
There is need to maintain the simplicity of the MDGs. I wholly agree that we need clear and graspable global goals. Some of those may be refinements of the current MDGs – and indeed, the complete eradication of poverty in all its forms should be paramount.
But we need more. We need positive action, and we need a positive narrative – not only for the poor of developing countries, but also for the taxpayers worldwide who will be asked to provide development financing at a time of continued economic strain.
What I call for is a new partnership for sustained prosperity, supporting the achievement of new goals and the wellbeing of all mankind. And a key element of this partnership must be investing into productive capacity, job creation, structural transformation and economic diversification (according to national and regional needs).
So, in addition to universal education, we must call for skills-formation to make the youth employable, or more productive, or to become entrepreneurs themselves; to complement food security, we must call for agribusiness development to create rural wealth to stem the mass migration of people to urban areas; emphasize private sector wealth creation beyond mundane poverty alleviation (for you cannot eradicate poverty without creating wealth).
As far as the environment and natural resources are concerned, there is no doubt that effects on climate change, biodiversity, and spoiling of the global commons must be central to any consideration of economic growth.
For Africa and the world, resource efficiency will play an increasingly important role in the context ofstability, security and development. Inefficient technologies and operatingpractices currently in use by many industries in developing countries will need to be replaced.
Massive investments are needed for climate change mitigation and adaptation and other dimensions of environmental protectionof global ramifications. Such investment will come about only through collective action of the type foreseen in last year’s Rio+20 Outcome Document, and must be at the heart of support for the post-2015 goals.
POWERING THE AFRICAN RENAISSANCE
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I mentioned earlier that my time as UNIDO Director-General is drawing to a close. One of the greatest impacts UNIDO has had on the global development landscape in recent times has been its role, through supporting UN-Energy and the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change, in elaborating tangible and achievable energy targets.
In the close of last year, I had the honour to be appointed as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sustainable Energy for All, and Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. As I transition fully to my new role, I can assure you that I will redouble my efforts to work with the AU and NEPAD to promote the Plan for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which has at its core the scaling up of investments in the energy sectors.
Access to modern forms of energy is one of the most pressingchallenges facing this Continent,and iscentral to the three dimensions of sustainable development. Total installed capacity for power generation in 43 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa (minus South Africa) is less than or about the capacity in Poland and in the State of New York. Outside RSA, modern energy consumption in SSA is around 1% of OECD levels, 82% of households rely on solid biomass for cooking (charcoal, wood, or animal waste), interruptions cause 2-3% loss of GDP and 6% loss to turnover in the formal sector firms. Without access to energy, a country or community cannot achieve the MDGs.
Hence, Africa must push for “Universal Access to Sustainable Energy” to now become a development goal (it is the means to power wealth and jobs creation, women’s economic and social empowerment, education, food security and access to clean water).
Without an ambitious transformation of global energy production and use, climate change will worsen (energy generation and use account for almost 70% of greenhouse gas emissions). For this and other reasons stated earlier, the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which has established three interlinked and complementary global targets: (a) ensuring universal access to modern energy services; (b) doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and (c) doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. The initiative has received overwhelming political support, and the private sector is fully on board.
In Rio+20, we received over $50 billion in commitments towards actions under the initiative. The UN-General Assembly last month declared a Decade for Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024). My new job is to facilitate the conversion of “Commitments-to-Kilowathours for People” (C2K), and for supporting governments to do for the energy sector what they did for mobile phones (deregulate-unbundle the sector and incentivize private sector participation). Note that from 2000-2012 over 700 million mobile phone connections were made). Let us jointly create the new Third Industrial Revolution powered by an Energy-Internet through decentralized and distributive modern energy services. I count on your continued support and guidance in my new post.
In closing, I am pleased to say that I remain very optimistic about the future of Africa’s development. Africa is currently the fastest growing region in the world – even overtaking Asia. Africa’s renaissance – the theme of this summit – is within reach. But that renaissance will depend on political will and on making the right choices for the Continent as a whole. We must make sure that Africa’s economic potential is supported in future global development goals – through emphasizing investment in productive capacity, access to sustainable energy, and other pressing needs.
Only then will we witness the renaissance become a reality.
Note: The above is taken from a statement titled: “HOPE, OPPORTUNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY” and delivered by Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella, UNIDO Director-General at the 20th African Union Summit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 21-28 January 2013.