The 3rd International Sustainable Energy Summit (ISES) 2016 Keynote Forum Session Enabling Policies to Democratize Electricity Supply

Apr 5, 2016

Y.A.M. Tunku Dato' Seri Utama Naquiyuddin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja'afar

Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili, Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water

Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Datuk Dr. Ahmad Zaidee Laidin, Authority Member of Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA), Chairman of the session,

Representatives from Government Ministries and private sector agencies

Representatives of civil society organizations, members of the public and the media.

Selamat Pagi and a very good morning!

Let me start by thanking the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) and the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (MEGTW) for inviting me to participate in today’s Key Note Forum.  The Forum’s focus on Enabling Policies to Democratize Electricity Supply is a priority, not only here in Malaysia, but also to inform global and regional arrangements.  Sources of renewable energy like wind, sun and waste are abundant and, with sound policy planning and investment, can be economically harnessed at manageable scales across the country, including at local levels, and in “kampungs”, especially places far away from the grid.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and particularly SDG 7 to ensure affordable and clean energy for all by 2030, we will need to transform the energy sector.  We will have to move away from our traditional distribution systems, where the electricity grid is dominated by large, centralized utilities, to a more distributed network of independently-owned and widely dispersed supply dominated by renewable energy generators that is closer to users, and works on a demand-based principle.  In this regard, it is encouraging to see current efforts to expand renewable energy generation, locate supply close to users and also to involve users, including local communities and indigenous peoples, in finding solutions.

As I know my fellow panelists will delve deeply into the technical aspects of electricity supply and distribution, I will use my time to address the broader issues of democratizing the energy industry in the context of achieving the sustainable development goals (SDG) by 2030, specifically achieving SDG 7 targets on affordable and clean energy for all.

Ensuring Sustainable Energy for All, was made a global priority and an imperative with the launch of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative in 2010.  Through the SE4ALL Initiative, the United Nations shone a spotlight on this central development challenge of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable and clean energy and adaptation to climate change in order to secure more inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development.  In fact, SE4ALL served as the backbone for SDG7 targets to attract global attention and public and private commitments to ensure universal access to modern, reliable and affordable energy services, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

It is important to understand that SDG7 is more than a goal in itself.  It is essential to achieving many of the other 16 global goals, through which Governments have committed to eradicate poverty, fight inequalities, build peaceful, inclusive and resilient societies, and secure the future of the planet and the wellbeing of future generations. Ensuring sustainable energy has now become the global target that provides an opportunity to transform lives, economies and the planet and most crucially, the livelihood of the people.  In essence, Goal 7 powers the other global goals.

SDG principles of inclusiveness, transparency and promoting greater accountability in our institutions, in governance and in business, are also prerequisites for energy democracy. Energy democracy is about bringing greater autonomy to the users of energy, charting how best to maximize the development dividends for real, visible and sustained improvements in people’s lives.  People and communities should have a say in their energy future.

For instance, Malaysia, in its 11th Plan has identified the importance of energy access for all by 2020.  The present rural electrification rate (2015 data) is about 94% in Sarawak and 95.1% in Sabah. The priority now is to reach the remaining 5 to 6% of rural electrification coverage and enhance the lives of rural folk.

A centralized energy system and grid extension from far distances may not be suitable due to cost and technology deficiencies.  Bringing the energy generation system closer to users, leveraging available technology, may be the best option. In doing so, we also should ask the underserved population - the users - how best to serve their energy needs; and how energy services should be maintained and sustained in the future.  The Global Goals are about leaving no one behind and democratizing electricity supply is, important to achieving this objective.

UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme for instance, has developed eight (8) micro hydro projects from 3-30 kilowatt of capacity in various locations in Malaysia, mainly in Sabah and Sarawak, to demonstrate the practicality of such systems. I do understand that such small systems are incomparable to large scale plants that serve the grid for baseload power. What I am highlighting is the process of engagement.  In assessing the applicability of the microhydro projects in those underserved areas, UNDP emphasises community engagement, including prior consent, ownership through active local community participation, training for operation, and also community and government partnership for watershed-management, which also impact biodiversity conservation and livelihood. This is energy democracy in practice, albeit at a smaller scale. 

Challenges in implementation of SDG 7 and other goals do exist, especially related to institution building and data availability.  Building institutional capacity will require long-term investment from the government in strengthening its technical, managerial and financial capacities, especially at the sub-national level.  Effective and efficient governance of the energy sector will be core to gaining trust to execute smoothly the transformation toward universal access to clean, affordable energy services. Data related to the SDGs themselves (including SDG 7 on energy) are broad.  Hence there is an urgent need for improved data at both aggregated and disaggregated levels to monitor progress and help design the required policies and programmes. Traditional data sources are very important, but we must also take advantage of new opportunities, especially those presented by the use of technology.  In essence, a “data revolution” is required.

Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen,

2015 was a landmark year for development, not only for the historic agreement by Governments on The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to Transform Our World and the Sustainable Development Goals.  They also reached three other historic agreements that now together set the global agenda that will guide development priorities for a generation.  The 2030 Agenda also includes:

  • The Paris Agreement on Climate Change;
  • The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction; and
  • The Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, which sets out the means of implementation for this ambitious agenda.

This agenda is for all countries, developed and developing alike.  No country is outside of this framework as all have work to do.  And 2016 is the time for action.

I noted in Malaysia’s submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) under the Paris Agreement that Government has set itself ambitious targets to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity of GDP by 45% by 2030 relative to the emissions intensity of GDP in 2005.  Achievement of 35% of this target is on an unconditional basis, with the further 10% conditioned upon receipt of adequate climate finance and appropriate technology transfer and capacity building from developed countries.  This is a pledge, which is reflected in the 11MP to decarbonise the economy.

We have to reverse the present upward global trend in Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) which is driving climate change, and which will shape the future of our planet for hundreds and thousands of years. The government and the private sector are important partners to realise the Paris Agreement, which is a core component of the 2030 global development agenda, as well as other sustainable development goals and targets.

UNDP will continue to be your close partner, offering various custom and innovative solutions, drawing on our experience from the more than 170 countries we work in; and the new country programme 2016 to 2020 just agreed between UNDP and the Government of Malaysia will support achievement of the 11MP and the SDGs.  We look forward to working together with Government, the private sector and other national stakeholders to achieve the planned development results.

Thank You.








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