Africa Has ‘Tremendous Potential’ to be Global Renewable Energy Leader, Secretary-General Tells Summit of Heads of State, Government

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks at the Summit of African Heads of State and Government, hosted by King Mohammed VI in Marrakech, Morocco, today:

This is a very significant summit - in Africa and about Africa. There is a sense of promise in the air.

Marrakech is different from any Conference of Parties (COP) ever held before. Africa helped bring us to this point. The continent took us from high-stakes negotiations to high-speed ratifications. I thank you for your leadership. And I urge all those African countries that have not yet ratified the Paris Agreement to join us in shaping a new future.

I am pushing all countries to make good on their promises. We still face real and daunting challenges. The Paris Agreement is not a panacea, but it gives us a framework to build on. Now is the time for action.

Africa is at the forefront. Compared to the global average, temperatures are rising higher in this continent. Out of the 50 countries hit hardest by climate change, 36 are in Africa. This Conference is shedding light on the problem - literally. I heard that at the opening session, in the darkened room, everyone received solar lights. They stood for Africa's right to light - its right to clean, affordable energy for all.

I have seen climate solutions across Africa. This continent is dynamic. Your societies share the hope for a sustainable future - and they have modelled collective action. I salute the entrepreneurial spirit across Africa, especially among youth. African young people have led projects to achieve sustainable transport. They have planted millions of trees across Africa. Right here in Morocco, youth are leading climate projects for conservation, reforestation and re-vegetation. There are promising young people in all of your countries. They need investments and they deserve empowerment. With the right opportunities, African youth can forge solutions we may not even be able to imagine.

We have entered the era of implementation. Success will be measured by practical results that protect vulnerable communities, reduce energy poverty and build more sustainable economies. Last year, at COP21, Africa Governments launched the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative led by the African Union. I commend all those involved for their commitment and vision in carrying this Initiative forward. It is a testament to the spirit of collaboration that has united the continent in confronting the climate challenge. So is the African Adaptation initiative. I look forward to hearing about progress through these two initiatives. And I encourage you to join my Climate Resilience Initiative, called "A2R" for Anticipate, Absorb and Reshape. This Initiative brings together United Nations, public and private partners to help the most vulnerable.

You have already catalysed ambitious actions that support low-emissions growth and climate resilience. These are critical to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals. A clean energy economy helps increase prosperity, health and well-being. It improves food, water and energy security. And abundant clean energy creates improves life in cities, with cleaner air for our children.

Africa has tremendous potential to be a global renewable energy leader. This continent has vast solar, wind and geothermal energy resources. The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative will advance this immense potential. It can help boost Africa's installed renewable energy capacity by 10 gigawatts by 2020. Just a decade later, the increase will be exponentially higher - with an increase of 300 gigawatts. I call on partners from both developed and developing countries to scale up investment and technical assistance. We have to ensure that policy incentives align with a temperature-rise pathway that is well below 2 degrees.

The Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can open important business and investment opportunities for Africa. I encourage you to seize these opportunities, collaborate with more parties and build the clean energy economies of tomorrow - today.

Throughout my tenure as Secretary-General, I have depended on many partners from Africa - Government officials, expert scientists, corporate executives and grassroots activists. At our 2014 Climate Summit in New York, one Ugandan activist, Sylvia Atugonza Kapellom, said: "Climate change is a survival issue - not a question of negotiations."

The time for talk is over. I call on all African leaders and peoples - and partners around the world - to rise to this moment. The United Nations stands with you in building a safer and more sustainable future.

Thank you for your leadership and your commitment.

Source: United Nations.

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