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Climate crisis

A people-centred approach to the energy transition is needed

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Mary Robinson addressing the Sustainable Energy for All Forum
Mary Robinson and Ban Ki-moon addressed the Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL) Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, from 17-19 May 2022, calling on world leaders to implement a just and inclusive energy transition to zero carbon future.

Jobs, women’s rights, and intergenerational justice are all crucial parts of a just transition and both Elders urged global decision-makers and private finance to implement a people-centred approach to the rapid adoption of renewal energy. To keep the Paris Agreement temperature-rise target of 1.5°C alive, we must see rapid reductions in fossil fuel use and an immediate end to new extraction.

Mary Robinson took part in the opening plenary of the SE4ALL Forum, saying "We need action; not talk, not more promises. A people-centred approach to the climate crisis is needed now!". She went on to discuss the climate crisis and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Africa energy provision, food prices and investment with Rwanda’s President Kagame.

As the situation in Ukraine continues to threaten catastrophic price hikes and a resurgence of calls for investment in gas and coal power, Ban Ki-moon, via video link, told the Forum of energy policy-makers, corporations and activists that it was immoral for the rich world to continue to rely on fossil fuels, and a massive injection of funding was needed to scale up renewable energy in the developing world.


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Ban Ki-moon addressing the SE4All Forum


In the sidelines of the Forum, Mary Robinson chaired a meeting of the Africa-Europe Women Leaders Network alongside leading figures such as Damilola Ogunbiyi, Laurence Tubiana and Wanjira Mathai. The group agreed a statement, urging closer EU-Africa collaboration on a just energy transition. In a world with lack of trust, they recognised that there is still extraordinary trust within women’s networks, and amongst young people – and put forward a vision of clean energy as a pillar for security, peace and development for the future.

Speaking at a sub plenary, Mary Robinson reiterated the importance of closing the gender gap in the energy economy, highlighting that less than a third of national energy polices include gender considerations and only 32% of the renewable energy workforce are women.

Mary Robinson also addressed the importance of universal clean cooking across the Global South, a key component of achieving the UN’s SDG7 goal of sustainable energy for all. She stressed that the issue has for too long been sidelined as a menial household or ‘women’s’ issue when it is really about livelihoods. The lack of access to clean cooking solutions is a silent pandemic that is killing over 4 million people every year in the developing world, where 2.6 billion women still labour over smoky wood or charcoal stoves.

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Africa-Europe Foundation’s Women Leadership Network meeting at the SE4All Forum

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