On April 25, 2023, Vadim Kuznetsov, BRICS YEA’s Director for Sustainability and Climate Initiatives, spoke at a thematic expert session on “Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG7),” which took place at UN HQ in New York. On the next day April 26, 2023, he further spoke at a regional breakout session, “Asia and the Pacific-2023 ECOSOC Youth Forum,” which also took place at UN HQ in New York.
The first session on 25th of April gathered young energy professionals, climate advocates, and UN youth delegates from more than 30 UN Member States. In his speech, Mr. Vadim focused on the issue of prioritizing climate action over environmental health and on the consequences, this might have in the long run.
He stressed the importance of measuring SDG7 progress by evaluating the whole value chain of clean energy technologies, from extraction to disposal and recycling.
In addition, Mr. Vadim provided a few policy examples of enabling clean cooking through public-private partnerships in the Global South and showcased how circularity approaches might help bridge the gap between climate ambition and environmental wellbeing.
Furthermore, focusing on achieving SDG7 by 2030, Mr. Vadim addressed following three major underestimated challenges that should be integrated into further SDG7 regional action plans in the session conducted on 26th of April.
First, policymakers must stop prioritizing climate action over environmental health. This stems from the need to extensively double down on clean energy in the region, which requires an ever-growing supply of critical minerals and raw materials. Unfortunately, the green growth does not come at no cost-extractive practices and end-of-life disposal are among the most toxic economic activities, and yet, more and more minerals are sourced to meet the skyrocketing demand. As a result, the absence of common ESG standards leads to unsustainable resource use and helps only end-users truly benefit from the energy transition in place.
Second, in the Asia-Pacific, it is time to change the way we evaluate SDG7 progress by shifting the policy focus from the end-user’s wellbeing to ensuring sustainability across the entire value chain from extraction until disposal. Only in this case will our energy transition be truly just and green.
Third, it is essential to focus not only on preparing new energy specialists but also the new generation of resource managers who will be able to integrate sustainability principles across the entire energy value chain.
In this regard, he highlighted how young people play a crucial role in addressing these new SDG7 challenges through new energy enablers to turn current systemic pitfalls into advantages.