Sustainable development is the priority of the international community. Energy concerns the overall progress of sustainable development. A high-level symposium titled “Building Global Energy Interconnection Promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” was held at the UN’s headquarters in New York On 1st November 2017 (local time).
On 26 September 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at UN Sustainable Development Summit, and proposed a “discussion on establishing a global energy internet to facilitate efforts to meet global power demand with clean and green alternatives.”. Such an idea received widespread acclaim and positive responses from the international community. This summit adopted Resolution 70/1 titled “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (here in after referred to as “the 2030 Agenda”), which specified 169 targets under 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and charted the course for development of countries around the world in the next 15 years.
The Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO) has been committed to promoting the sustainable development of the world energy together with the improvement of economy, society and environment. In order to implement the 2030 Agenda, GEIDCO formulated the “Global Energy Interconnection Action Plan for Promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”( Action Plan), which was released at this high-level symposium.
This symposium was co-hosted by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and GEIDCO. The participants exchanged views on the comprehensive value of Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) , its important role, and how GEI could help meet targets identified in the 2030 Agenda. The symposium called on the international community to take an active part in building GEI, make joint efforts to meet the 2030 Agenda targets, and render the world a peaceful and harmonious “global village” with sufficient energy supply and beautiful environment characterized by a brighter sky and greener lands.
UN Secretary General António Guterres, Under Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin, Chairman of GEIDCO and China Electricity Council (CEC) Liu Zhenya attended the meeting and delivered speeches.
Liu Zhenya pointed out that the world is facing major challenges such as resources shortage, environmental pollution and climate change, which pose serious threat to the survival and development of humankind. Accelerating energy transformation is the key to achieving the 2030 Agenda targets. GEI is a modern energy system that is led by clean energy, centers on electricity and features connectivity, joint contribution and benefit sharing. It is a combination of smart grids, Ultra High Voltage (UHV) grids and clean energy. The establishment of GEI will be in alignment with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda to accelerate the world's green and low-carbon development, protect the ecological environment of the earth, facilitate infrastructure connectivity and sustain economic growth. The objective is to make sustainable energy accessible to everyone, eradicate poverty and hunger, reduce regional gap, facilitate South-South and North-South cooperation, so as to build a new global development landscape marked by green and low carbon development, peace and harmony, and common prosperity.
Liu Zhenya also stated that building GEI is an important strategic action concerning the future of mankind. We are presented with the historical opportunity to step up developing clean energy as well as great challenges in addressing the concept, technology and application. We must go through a development process from achieving consensus to forming synergy and taking joint actions. At present, the conditions for building GEI are already in place and we propose to establish specialized agency under the UN to accelerate related work, formulate international conventions and rules, coordinate power grid planning for countries, regions, continents and the whole world; establish special funds and bring in all parties’ effort to build GEI and create a bright future for mankind’s sustainable development.
According to the reporter’s understanding, GEIDCO has put forward the Global Energy Interconnection Action Plan for Promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development based on careful study of the 2030 Agenda targets, as well as the energy conditions, socioeconomic development and ecological environments of different continents. The action plan specified Ten Actions and Five Mechanisms corresponding to the 17 SDGs of the agenda. The Ten Actions consist of concept promotion, clean development, universal access to electricity, power grid interconnection, electricity replacement, smart grid, innovation-driven development, capacity building and policy support. The Five Mechanisms include global electricity planning, transnational project construction, global electricity trade, interconnected power grid coordination and collaboration in technical standards. Experts believe the GEI Action Plan provides the world’s sustainable development with a global solution and a guide on action.
The GEI development has won full endorsement from the UN’s high-level officials. Secretary General Antonio Guterres remarked that the UN will incorporate GEI into the 2030 Agenda action plans and guide all countries to participate in its construction. Under Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin said GEI is in line with the world green and low-carbon development trend and provides important ideas and implementation paths for achieving the 2030 Agenda targets.
The symposium received active response and support from many prominent political leaders, experts and scholars. Mr. Shawar, Vice-President of the UN General Assembly and Zimbabwe’s permanent representative to the UN; Ambassador Wu Haitao, Deputy Permanent Representative (DPR) of the permanent mission of the PRC to the UN; Kwesi Kwadi, Vice-Chairman of the African Union Commission; Mr. Aitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal; Riley Bemba, Vice Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure of Germany; Mr. Bekele, Minister of Ethiopia’s Water, Irrigation and Electricity; as well as Mr. Holmen, Secretary of State of Norway’s Department of Petroleum and Energya ttended the meeting and delivered speeches. Delegates to the symposium agreed that the vision of GEI is very encouraging and will bring to different countries and communities around the world unprecedented opportunities, and therefore we should deepen cooperation and maximize synergy to promote the GEI development through concrete and effective actions. Under such cooperation, we can put the world on the path of sustainable and resilient development, and realize the development goals concerning mankind, the earth, prosperity and peace in the 2030 Agenda.
As an affiliated entity to the UN Secretariat, the UNDESA is in charge of the economic, social and environmental issues. It is committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda, helping countries tackle economic, social and environmental challenges, and supporting the international cooperation in sustainable development. A cooperation agreement was signed this May between the UNDESA and GEIDCO to carry out joint research and projects.
GEIDCO was established in March 2016 in Beijing with the objective to build a cooperation platform featuring “extensive consultation, joint contribution, shared and win-win development”. The platform will facilitate the world energy’s transition to green and low-carbon development and also contribute to innovative, coordinated and sustainable development of human society. Since its establishment, GEIDCO has rallied all parties’ efforts to promote the concepts, conduct research, facilitate international cooperation, and implement projects to advance the GEI development to a new stage marked by joint action.