GA: Thematic debate on water, sanitation and sustainable energy in the Post-2015 Agenda

Last updated: 2/19/2014 // This statement was held by Mr. Geir O. Pedersen on the 18th of February.

No water – no life. No sanitation – no dignity! No energy – no development. These statements capture the importance of access to water, sanitation and sustainable energy and in my intervention I will focus on these areas.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have helped mobilize global action, and we have made considerable progress. Ambitions have increased. Now the task is to create a sustainable development framework to guide our future efforts, allowing us to achieve more and to make a lasting impact. It should be a universal framework that is people-centered, planet-sensitive and human rights-based, and it should be a framework with same ability as the MDGs to communicate and mobilize concrete action.

Water and sanitation were part of the MDGs. We are pleased to note the considerable progress made in providing access to water, however, we still have a long way to go before the sanitation target has been met.

Water and sanitation’s fundamental importance for human development, the environment and the economy needs to feature prominently in the new post-2015 development agenda. UN-Water and its partners have therefore come together to develop suggestions for a dedicated global goal for water, ‘Securing sustainable water for all’. It will simply promote human well-being, economic prosperity and the preservation of environmental capital for present and future benefit. The framework thus contains all three dimensions of sustainable development - social, economic and environmental, and we must settle for no less.


Energy was not part of the MDGs – it has been labeled as the most obvious “missing MDG”.

Development is not possible without energy, and sustainable development is not possible without sustainable energy. Hence, energy must be fully integrated into the post-2015 development agenda. The Global Consultations and the High-Level Meeting on Energy and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, held in Oslo in April last year confirmed that there is broad support for “sustainable energy for all” as a global goal.

Energy choices have significant local and global environmental and social impacts, making sustainability a critical concern. Indoor and outdoor air pollution due to energy use causes millions of deaths annually, mostly poor women and children. Energy accounts for about 60 per cent of global emissions of greenhouse gases.

We need to change the way energy is produced and used. We need to decouple economic growth, energy use and emissions of greenhouse gases. And we need to reach out to the poor. There is no significant trade-off between providing modern energy access to the poor and greenhouse gas mitigation. We should deliver both through a single set of policies.


To secure sustainable energy for all in a measurable way, we have become even more convinced of the merit in setting at least three global targets as proposed by the Secretary-General’s initiative for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL):

  • Ensuring Universal Access to Modern Energy Services
  • Doubling the Global Rate of Improvement in Energy Efficiency
  • Doubling the Share of Renewable Energy in the Global Energy Mix

We have also noted other proposals that highlight the inextricable links between sustainable energy for all and other global challenges of our time.  Examples are targets on:

  • “Phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption”, as suggested by the High-Level Panel,
  • Energy - health nexus
  • Energy - water nexus
  • Energy - food nexus
  • Energy - education nexus
  • Energy - women’s empowerment nexus

Many countries and communities are under unprecedented pressure with regard to water and energy scarcity, and competition for their use from people, industries, ecosystems, and growing economies is growing. As the world’s population reaches 9 billion, demand will require a 50 percent increase in agricultural production and a 15 percent increase in already-strained water withdrawals. By 2035, the world’s energy consumption will increase by 35 percent, which in turn will increase water use by 15 percent and consumption by 85 percent, according to the International Energy Agency.

This clearly underscores that the world’s energy systems are inextricably linked with water systems. With demand rising for both resources, water scarcity can threaten the long-term viability of energy projects and hinder development.


We believe that sustainable energy and water for all is ambitious but achievable goals.

Thank you!


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