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20 September 2011, 12:00-14:30
United Nations Headquarters, New York

[Meeting Report] [Agenda[Participant List] [Commitments]

The UN Private Sector Forum 2011 focused on the role of the private sector in supporting the Secretary-General’s strategy on Sustainable Energy for All. This strategy engages Governments, the private sector, and civil society partners to achieve three major goals by 2030:

  1. Achieving universal access to modern energy services.
  2. Improving energy efficiency.
  3. Increasing the share of energy generated from renewable resources.

Hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Private Sector Forum featured high-level roundtable discussions among business, Government, civil society and UN leaders. It was designed to maximize interaction, increase understanding of efforts underway and generate a range of commitments to action around the Sustainable Energy for All goals.

Following are objectives for the Private Sector Forum:

  • Galvanize support for the Secretary-General’s strategy on Sustainable Energy for All – through contributing to the development and execution of the strategy in the lead-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio+20;
  • Create a shared understanding of the role of the private sector and the business opportunity in achieving sustainable energy for all;
  • Provide a platform for companies, investors, Governments, foundations and civil society organizations to share the efforts they are undertaking and to publicize new commitments to action – individually and in partnership; and
  • Inspire new forms of public-private partnerships and public policy measures to overcome systemic challenges at the country level.


Timing: 2.5 hours

Venue: General Assembly Lobby, UN Headquarters New York

Programme: Following an opening address by the Secretary-General and brief keynote remarks over lunch, participants engaged in roundtable discussions on a particular theme. The event concluded with a report-back plenary session. Participants were seated at tables of 10 with leaders from business, civil society, Government and the UN for the duration of the meeting.

Agenda: Download Agenda.

Themes for Discussion

Each roundtable focused on one of five themes related to the Sustainable Energy for All goals. Participants were invited to pre-select the theme they discussed and received relevant briefing materials in the weeks leading up to the Forum. In addition, discussion on each theme included cross-cutting topics including: financing, technology, and capacity-building and skills formation.

The five themes identified for the UN Private Sector Forum 2011 were:

1. Access to Electricity
1.4 billion people do not have access to electricity and an additional one billion only have intermittent access. To expand access, the global community needs to ensure that investments for electricity access are spread more evenly around the world and within countries, reaching all sectors of society and economy including the poor. Electricity access should be provided to urban as well as rural regions. The urban poor typically have some access to electricity, but its quality is poor and the service is unreliable and intermittent. In rural areas, physical access is often non-existent, and where it exists it tends to be of inadequate quality and/or quantity. The roundtable will focus on the required diversification of types and sources of electricity generation in order to achieve universal access and related business opportunities. Diversification will focus on energy services needed, local supplies, regional interconnections and energy efficiency. This will entail access to electricity from central grids, mini-grids, off-grids and decentralized energy options. Detailed information.
2. Access to Cleaner Stoves and Fuels for Cooking and Heating
Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires – the primary means of cooking and heating for nearly three billion people in the developing world – causes 1.9 million premature deaths annually, primarily women and children. Reliance on biomass for cooking and heating increases pressures on local natural resources (e.g., forests, habitat) and forces women and children to spend hours each week collecting fuel. Women and girls face personal security risks as they search for fuel from refugee camps and in conflict zones. Inefficient cookstoves also contribute to climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, and aerosols such as black carbon. The use of clean cookstoves and fuels can dramatically reduce fuel consumption and exposure to smoke. The roundtable will focus on the development of a global clean cookstove industry that is constantly innovating to improve design and performance while lowering the cost of stoves, and how to lead the way to widespread adoption of clean cooking solutions. Detailed information.  
3. Renewables
Increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy mix is needed to move towards a green economy – where growing energy demand and access in developing countries is reconciled with the reduction of carbon intensity under the climate agenda. Renewables are moving from niche to mainstream markets based on the technological and commercial maturity of a range of renewable solutions. As well, policy measures at various stages of technology diffusion, such as up-front R&D, feed-in-tariffs to entice investors or carbon finance in the marketplace, have helped to mainstream renewables. Today, renewable energy provides business opportunities as well as development benefits, particularly in developing countries where resource endowments exist and local conditions allow for a comparative advantage. This roundtable will highlight the business development and partnership potential for the private sector as a lead agent in increasing the share of renewables in global energy supply – with a goal of ensuring 30% renewable energy by 2030 set by the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Detailed information.
4. Energy Efficiency
Rapid industrialization among developing countries and those with economies in transition is anticipated to accelerate the increase in future global energy demand. In this context, decoupling economic growth from energy growth is critical for the achievement of sustainable economic development. Energy efficiency is the key factor in reducing energy intensity – a goal of reducing global energy intensity by 40 percent by 2030 has been set by the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Increased energy efficiency produces benefits at the government, industrial and consumer levels. The deployment of existing energy efficiency technologies is a near-term, cost-efficient option for achieving enhanced competitiveness, as well as addressing global energy needs. Energy efficiency is the cleanest and the most readily available solution to meet the global energy demand, accounting for one third of the total low-cost opportunities to reduce GHG emissions globally based on available technologies. Energy efficiency can also create jobs in the manufacturing, services and related sectors. This roundtable will focus on the opportunities and challenges of scaling up energy efficiency. Detailed information.
5. Water, Food & Energy Security
Scarce resources are coming under increasing stress – endangering water, food and energy security and jeopardizing fundamental development goals of increased human wellbeing, economic development and poverty eradication. Access to clean drinking water, energy and food at a level sufficient to meet vital human needs, as well as access to basic sanitation services, are fundamental human rights or directly related to them. Governments therefore have to take the necessary actions for ensuring access to these resources for their citizens, in particular for the poor. Nearly one billion people do not have access to safe drinking water; 2.5 billion people don´t have access to sanitation; 1 billion people suffer from hunger; 2 billion have deficient diets; and 2.5 billion people don´t have access to modern forms of energy. There are different aspects to the Water-Food-Energy nexus, such as: the sustainable use of energy and water to achieve food security; and the significant potential of hydropower through large or small-scale systems for food production and rural development which has largely been untapped. The nexus perspective adds an important dimension to the global green economy debate which often focuses on the transition towards a low-carbon future. If water, energy and food security are to be achieved simultaneously, sectoral decision makers must consider their impacts on the other two sectors, including conflicting demands. This, in turn, will require innovative policies and institutions that allow for this integration in decisions and implementation of related initiatives. Detailed information.


300 participants attended the Forum, with approximately half from the public sector and half from the private sector. Participation was at the highest level: 

  • CEOs or C-suite officials from companies
  • Heads of State/Government
  • Heads of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes
  • Heads of civil society organizations
  • Heads of business associations and foundations
  • Heads of investor groups

Registration was on a first-come, first-served basis, with concerted efforts made by Organizing Committee Members to ensure geographic and sectoral representation. 

Corporate commitments to sustainable energy for all

All participating executives were encouraged to make new commitments to advance progress toward the Secretary-General's strategy on sustainable energy for all at the Forum. Businesses interested in collaborating with the United Nations can view partnership opportunities or suggest new ideas for collaboration at business.un.org. A summary of these commitments was provided to the press. View commitments received prior to the event.

Organizing Partners

The UN Global Compact Office led the organization of this Forum, in close cooperation with UNIDO/UN-Energy. The Organizing Committee includes the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); and the UN Foundation.

The Organizing Partners would like to recognize the Department of Economic & Social Affairs (DESA), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the World Bank (WB) for their substantive support.

About the UN Private Sector Forum

As a result of the success of the 2008 UN Private Sector Forum on the Millennium Development Goals and Food Sustainability, the Secretary-General has decided to hold the Forum on an annual basis during the General Assembly debate so the voice of the private sector can contribute to inter-governmental negotiations. In 2009 the second UN Private Sector Forum was held under the title: the UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change. In 2010, the UN Private Sector Forum on the Millennium Development Goals was held.

News from the Private Sector Forum

Additional Resources

The following resources provide additional background information for the Forum:

The Forum was by invitation only.

Please contact unpsf@unglobalcompact.org for further information