Remarks of Michelle Bachelet at Rio+20 high level panel on sustainable energy for all

Date: 21 Jun 2012

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Good afternoon.

It is my pleasure to facilitate this session on how Sustainable Energy is Enabling Future Generations.

I am pleased to be here with our distinguished panelists, whom I will now introduce : Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, the Prime Minister of Norway; Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda, President of the Asian Development Bank; Mr. Josue Tanaka, Managing Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction Development; and Mr. Guiseppe Recchi Chairman of the Board of the oil and gas company, Eni.

They will soon share their views with us. We are here because we believe in sustainable energy for all.

And I would like to tell you why this is especially important for rural women and why it is so important to fully engage women for sustainable energy. Today, almost half of the world's people still rely on open fires for cooking.

Poor rural women can work as many as 16 to 18 hours a day, collecting wood, fetching water, doing fieldwork as well as handling other domestic responsibilities, most of which is unpaid.

Providing them with access to sustainable energy would expand their freedom and opportunities for education and paid employment, and reduce poverty. UN Women supports the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

This public-private partnership is working to save lives, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. Our goal is 100 million homes to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020.

All over the world, women are taking action in their own hands and advancing renewable energy for the benefit of future generations.

In Nepal, women have organized the Solid Waste Management and Community Mobilization Programme. They recycle landfill organic waste to produce biogas and now women no longer need to walk long distances to collect firewood.

In India, UN Women is working with the Barefoot College to promote community managed and owned solar lighting.

Rural African women travel to India to get hands-on training to become solar engineers, each covering 60 households within their communities. These rural women return home with the capacity to fabricate, install and maintain solar lighting systems and the knowledge to ensure that their villages become technically and financially self-sufficient.

Today countries have the opportunity to leap-frog directly to clean energy sources, such as solar and wind energy.

In Brazil, for instance, the share of renewable energy in power generation is over 80 per cent.

The best success comes by actively engaging local communities and women. Women know the needs and resources of their families and communities and have their best interests in mind. Solar energy can provide entire villages with lighting, pumped water, refrigeration, and the electrification of health centers, schools and other public facilities.

Renewable energy can provide a window to the outside world, via access to mobile phones, the Internet, television and radio, and power women's and men's small businesses. Availability of street lightening can prevent violence against women.

In closing, I would like to stress that UN Women fully supports the UN Secretary-General's initiative on Sustainable Energy for All. We look forward to working with all of you to ensure sustainable energy for all in a world that is more equitable.

I thank you.