UN/Accenture Report Calls for Doubling Renewable Energy’s Share

The United Nations Global Compact and Accenture, the management consulting firm, outlined the paths that business sectors can take to a sustainable clean-energy economy.

A 40-page report released earlier this month, Sustainable Energy for All: The Business Opportunity, known as SEFA, is a “comprehensive analysis” of priority actions across 19 industry sectors, including the automobile, chemicals, construction, food, health care, forest products, transportation, oil and gas, and renewable energy industries. (Download the 19 industry-focused reports.)

The initiative has three primary objectives, to be met by 2030:

  • Ensuring universal access to modern energy services;
  • Doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and
  • Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

The key words that are common throughout are “energy,” “value” and “sustainable value.”

George Kell, executive director of the UN Global Compact, and Bruno Berthon, managing director of Accenture Sustainability Services, note in the report that SEFA is an initiative designed to mobilize action and partnerships focused on “sustainably meeting the increasing energy requirements of businesses and society.”

“The world’s energy landscape is shifting radically,” the report says. Huge global business opportunities and risks “will increasingly be driven by this shift.”  Thus it is crucial that business leaders “understand the inextricable tie between this shifting energy landscape and their own growth and market expansion strategies.”

While industries will share certain perspectives and emphases, each industry’s contribution to the initiative’s three objectives will be different based on attributes specific to that industry and the companies that comprise it—such as energy consumption, asset lifetime, product portfolio, level of regulation, and relationship to consumers.

Internal factors (business model, corporate strategy, consumer base) and external factors (extent of regulation, economic context) will influence how companies can advance Sustainable Energy for All—for example, “by changing operations, creating new products and services, providing social investment and philanthropy, or promoting advocacy and public engagement.” These factors will also determine which specific actions a company undertakes to increase business value, the report continues.

The SEFA reports are a comprehensive outline that provides a knowledge base for companies looking to take action throughout their enterprise, from the boardroom to the facility level, to advance the SEFA objectives: benefiting the world while advancing their sustainable business value.

The idea is to improve the global energy landscape over the next two decades. The challenges and barriers are great, including policy and regulatory barriers, a dearth of available fining mechanisms and inflexible or ineffective business models.

Can SEFA leverage the global convening power of the UN to mobilize people, organizations and countries on a broad scale and facilitate a rapidly expanding, cross-sector knowledge and action network?

We’ll see—a common global vision on energy sustainability with clear objectives and a platform for collaboration and establishing partnerships is worth a try.

[Image: SEFA report cover]

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