With less than a decade to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the United Nations Secretary-General will convene the High-Level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE) during the UN General Assembly in September 2021. This summit level meeting would be the first in over forty years (the previous one held in the wake of the oil crisis in 1981) to raise ambition and accelerate action towards sustainable energy for all.

On 10 March 2021, the virtual launch marked the start of the substantive preparatory process of the summit, where Ministers reiterated their support and commitment to the HLDE. The preparatory process includes Ministerial-level thematic forums, Technical Working Groups, Inter-agency report and Stakeholder participation. It will engage with a multitude of stakeholders from academia, national agencies, think tanks, development banks as well as business innovators, civil society and youth to ensure no voice is left behind in this global call to action on sustainable energy. The recommendations of the Technical Working Groups will feature in an action-oriented roadmap to achieve SDG7 by 2030.

Brazil, China, India and Russian Federation are among the “Global Champions” with ministerial level representation to spearhead advocacy efforts in three over-arching themes of innovation, technology and data; energy access and energy transition (other themes of the HLDE include finance and investment; enabling SDGs through inclusive, just energy transition). Moreover, they will join hands with other Champions to galvanize voluntary commitments and actions in the form of Energy Compacts.

Approximately two-thirds of the global greenhouse gas emissions are from the energy sector and the world is off track to meet its sustainable energy goals (SDG7). Moreover, “current actions on SDG7 are insufficient, too fragmented, and lack accountability”. To achieve the net-zero target by 2050 of the Paris Agreement, the transition to sustainable energy must be accelerated as it is inextricably linked to climate change.

The outcomes of the High-Level Dialogue will ensure to mobilize action and set the stage for the global policy agency ahead of COP26. This year presents a historic opportunity to recover green from the COVID-19 pandemic, ensure a just transition and build sustainable economies. The overall success will however depend on the concerted actions of all stakeholders.