UN Secretary-General asks student energy summit for help

(14.06.2013) "We need your help," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote an international student energy summit being held at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim this week.

"I invite all of you to join my Sustainable Energy for All initiative – we need your help, your fresh way of looking at the world – your world.  We need you to ask the provocative, necessary questions, and identify the solutions, that will stimulate the green economy of the future",  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a letter to ISES2013, the International Students' Energy Summit being held this week at NTNU.

The letter came on 13 June, the first day of the summit, where more than 400 students from over 60 nations are participating in seminars, presentations and brainstorming sessions with energy industry leaders,  politicians and policymakers from throughout Europe and North America. The summit will end on Saturday, 15 June.

"It is an honour to get this recognition, and the invitation from the UN Secretary General. This shows that the work we have done here is good and that it will be recognized, and we're proud of that," says Alexander Hanssen, an NTNU student and head of the ISES 2013 conference.
You can read the letter at the Secretary-General's website.

Future Energy Leaders
"We have decided to create a ‘white paper' from ISES 2013 for the Secretary-General's ‘Sustainable Energy for All Initiative'. This document will be drawn from the discussions taking place at ISES 2013, and especially from the Energy for All panel and workshop. We want to make sure that the Secretary-General gets a comprehensive response to the letter he sent us. We want to be involved in deciding future energy policies, and this is one step on the way there," says Hanssen says.

Hanssen says that the ISES meeting has been designed to give students the opportunity to meet today's leaders, to learn from them -- but also to teach them.

"Both generations have something to learn from each other," Hanssen says. "The older generation has experience, but students are good at looking at issues in new ways. We haven't yet learned what is impossible."

The Secretary-General seems to agree with Hanssen. "The leadership of youth is essential for meeting the demands of sustainable development," he wrote in his letter to the summit's participants.

Energy for all

The Secretary-General's letter invites ISES participants to help with his "Sustainable Energy for All Initiative".

This UN initiative focuses on energy access, energy efficiency and increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the energy mix, Hanssen says.

"We believe that we have highlighted all of these areas in the ISES 2013 programme, but we have a panel discussion with six people with different experiences and perceptions on energy access that specificall focuses on energy access."

The panel is called "Energy for All" and includes Liberia's Minister of Energy.

"Liberia is particularly interesting in this context," says Hanssen. "Only a fraction of the population has access to energy. Energy access is incredibly important because that is what drives development. People have to have access to energy to lift them out of poverty."

Good contact
The invitation from UN Secretary-General didn't just fall out of the sky. The student organizers have been working long and hard to engage Secretary General Ba Ki-moon in the summit. He was invited to attend the ISES 2013, but was unable to attend.

 

In April 2013, Hanssen was involved in the UN High Level Meeting on Energy for the Post 2015 Development Agenda, which was held in Oslo.

"That was our first contact with the United Nations," says Hanssen, "and we have followed up since then."