Nov. 4, 2020

Ep16: Dr Kandeh K. Yumkella 'Sustainable Energy for All'

How did Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella impact the Sustainable Development Goals? How has he influenced energy's position in development? Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella – known as KKY in his native Sierra Leone - is a senior academic and politician. He joins Michael Liebreich this week to talk about his journey from being the Director-General at UNIDO to his political career in Sierra Leone.

He is parliamentary leader of Sierra Leone’s National Grand Coalition and an MP representing Constituency 062 in Kambia District, where he was born. He is founder and CEO of The Energy Nexus Network (TENN), a regional ecosystem hub for sustainable energy solutions.

Dr Yumkella was Minister for Trade and Industry of Sierra Leone from 1994-1995. He joined the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation in 1996, rising through the ranks and serving two four-year terms as Director General between 2005 and 2013. It was during this time that Dr Yumkella came to understand the vital role of energy access in all aspects of economic and social Development.

In 2008, Dr Yumkella persuaded the then Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, to appoint him chair of a new interagency mechanism for energy cooperation called UN Energy and of the Secretary

General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change. In 2011 he was appointed as Co-Chair of the High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All, securing the designation of 2012 as the Year of Sustainable Energy for All, celebrated in particular during the Rio+20 UN meeting in Brazil.

In 2013 Dr Yumkella was appointed Under-Secretary-General of the UN, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All, and Founding CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All). He stepped down in 2015 in order to contest the 2018 Presidential Election in his native Sierra Leone.

In 2019 Kandeh joined the board of Power for All, a charity focusing on providing energy access through distributed solutions, and the Rocky Mountain Institute; he also became an advisor on Africa to the International Energy Agency.


Further reading:

Dr Yumkella’s Wikipedia entry

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kandeh\_Yumkella  

Sustainable Energy for All

https://www.seforall.org/  

UNIDO

https://www.unido.org/  

Rio+20

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/rio20  

Death by Dirty Cooking

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/clean-cooking-solutions-household-air-pollution-africa-by-kandeh-k-yumkella-2019-11

Energy, Employment and Migration in Africa

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/africa-migration-employment-youth-agriculture-renewable-energy-by-kandeh-k-yumkella-2019-09?barrier=accesspaylog  

Sierra Leone’s Annus Horribilis 2019  

https://cocorioko.net/ngc-leader-kandeh-yumkella-tells-president-bio-that-2019-was-sierra-leones-horrible-year/  

The Power of the Prize

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/rewarding-innovation-to-secure-sustainable-energy-for-all-by-kandeh-k--yumkella?barrier=accesspaylog  

Power to the People (Kandeh Yumkella and Carlos Slim)

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/power-to-the-people  

Project Bo

https://www.projectbo.org/

The Energy Nexus Network - TENN

https://twitter.com/TENN\_SL?s=20

Transcript

Michael Liebreich

Hello everybody. My name is Michael Liebreich and this is 'Cleaning Up'. Today's episode is a long episode, my guest is Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella. Kandeh did two terms as Director General of UNIDO and then took on a special role building the importance of energy within the UN system. He was invited to be Chair of UN-Energy by Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General. He then turned that into the Year of Sustainable Energy for All in 2012. Then that became Sustainable Energy for All, and that resulted in what we all know and love as SDG 7 - the Sustainable Development Goal 7. It's a long story, but it's a story full of insight into the importance of energy access, sustainable energy, energy efficiency in the developing world. It's also a story full of insight into how things work within the multilateral system: the UN, the World Bank, regional development, banks, and so on. And at the end, there's a twist, because Kandeh Yumkella goes into politics in his native Sierra Leone. So bear with us, it is a longer episode than normal, but I think you're going to find it fascinating. Let's bring Kandeh Yumkella into the conversation. Kandeh, thank you so much for joining us here on 'Cleaning Up', it's great to see you.

 

Kandeh Yumkella

Thank you for having me on your show. And it's always wonderful to collaborate with you.

 

ML

Oh, you're very kind. And in fact, we've been collaborating for... I was trying to work it out... It's over a decade, maybe 12 or 13 years now, isn't that right?

 

KY

Yes, indeed. We've done quite a bit of journey together and achieved quite a bit ourselves. But we also know, we've not even achieved the major goals that we put forward. But at least, everybody's rallying around those goals we established.

 

ML

Well, yes. There is a long way to go, and a lot of them are focused on 2030, the Sustainable Energy for All goals. But let's start. I mean, you know, we could go on you've got such a fascinating resume, we could start almost anywhere. But we should probably... Let's start with when you invited me to be part of UN-Energy. And that was, for me, it was one of the first sort of pro bono, one of the first multilateral things that I did after founding New Energy Finance. I really didn't know what to expect, but our very dear joint friend Morgan Bazilian said 'there's this extraordinary guy, Kandeh Yumkella, I've decided to go work for him and we want you to join his advisory group'. And I had no idea what that mean, but I decided to go for it. What were you...? That was 2008, so you were still Director General of UNIDO?

KY

Well, at that time, I was already Director General of UNIDO since 2005. I was elected to that position, first person from Sub-Saharan Africa to head that institution as Chief Executive of the Secretary General. Then, of course, since then I was always talking about the need for developing countries to have access to energy. Kofi Annan was Secretary General then, and we were all members of, what we call, the Chief Executives Board. This is all the Heads of Agencies of the United Nations, the President of the World Bank, and the Managing Director of the IMF. We have this group called the Chief Executives Board and whenever we talked about global issues, I'll always talk about energy. So, Kofi Annan left the UN and Ban Ki-moon came in. Ban Ki-moon made climate change his top priority and he had a recommendation in this table to revive a group called UN-Energy or abolish it. And that is a group that was established in Rio+10, in Johannesburg in 2002. So he had a recommendation to kill it or revive it. So, some people advising, they said 'hey, there's a guy in the meetings with Kofi Annan, called Chief Executives, that always talks about energy. Why don't you ask him to head it?'. So they called me up, they were looking at several other things that I could do. So when I met you, he had just appointed me Chair of UN-Energy - a group of 22 agencies, including the World Bank. To see what I can do with it?' Of course, I loved it, because, as you know, I said I was talking about energy access before then. But now I had a platform to do it from, that was also part of the Secretary General drive for climate change. So I was given this and I started interviewing people, I said 'so what were you doing with UN-Energy?'. They explained that: well, these agencies talk about the importance of energy and the need for access to energy, but it's never gained prominence. I interviewed UNDP, World Bank, FAO - all those guys who were involved. And after six months, Achim Steiner was head of UNEP, and he was a big man pushing on climate change and sustainability. So we realised that: look, most of the action for energy is in the private sector, there was approach to the Secretary General and suggest to him to settle a multi-stakeholder group that included private sector people. Because we can only advocate as UN, we can help push global coalitions to work on climate change and energy, but we didn't have the solutions, the money, the technology that needed to be deployed. So I sent a letter - this an interesting story - I sent a letter to the Secretary General, the new Secretary General, suggesting setting up a multi-stakeholder group. That letter never reached him. and for a few months. So I went to Washington met with Senator Tim Wirth, at that time was leading UN Foundation. And I said 'hey, I sent a letter to the Secretary General, I didn't receive a reply, but I'm still waiting. What can you do about it?'. A few weeks later, I got a letter. That was a pro- forma letter, in a sense: because it's a good idea, but why don't you form a technical group? And what we had proposed was a high level group with presidents, Nobel laureates, CEOs of companies. And I got a reply, a bureaucratic reply, saying: 'no, the new Secretary General is not interested in advisory groups and multi-stakeholder groups right now. Why don't you form an expert group?'. So I went to Tim Wirth and we were sitting in his office and he was listening to me, said: 'look, this is the bureaucracy telling you, replying you. This is not the Secretary

General'. To cut a long story short, a week later, thanks to Tim, we got our appointment. And so Achim Steiner, myself, Jamal Saghir from the World Bank. We started strategizing. We have 15 minutes with this guy. 'How do we convince him? What do we want to do?' And we were walking along the street, just across the 1st Avenue to go to the UN, I said: 'I know what it is call it a multi-stakeholder group'. We visited him, we were planning and we choreographed each of us two minutes. I do the intro, I give it to Achim to make the climate case, Jamal Saghir will give him the numbers on energy access around the world. FAO will talk about the food connection. So we had our 10 minutes, quickly. And to our surprise, the Secretary General said: 'let me tell you a story about living without energy after the Korean War'. Instead of 15 minutes, we got about 45 minutes. And in the middle of it is about Mr. Yumkella. The way to deal with this is to have a multi-stakeholder group.

 

ML

<laugh>

 

KY

And some of the advisors who have replied to our letter, were sitting there. And I said: 'well, Mr. Secretary General, I actually have a proposal, but I wasn't sure you'll want it. And if you give us 24 hours, we'll present you with terms of references on it'. So why don't you bring this?

Because you are right. I can't deal with climate change without dealing with energy. So I gave you a long story how, from being asked to be Head of UN Coordination Group to moving then to get a multi-stakeholder group. And we had initially 17 people and some heavyweights, for example Carlos Slim of Mexico - at that time, he was the richest man in the world. We had the CEO of Statoil, we have Suntech, big solar company, I have Vattenfall - big power company - and so on. So we selected it. You also agreed that: okay, I'll give you time. And lo and behold, we came up with a report just before Copenhagen, and at that time our interest was very narrow. How do we help Secretary General with regular briefings? So that he can have an energy narrative or story when he's talking about climate change. And to our surprise, because of the private sector guys in the group, they helped us realise how big the energy issue was, how it was the defining issue for climate change. So listening to Vattenfall, yourself, Carlos Slim from his own vantage point - the digital economy, which was really his thing, telecommunications. The CEO of Statoil was very helpful, he introduced me to gas technology flew me over <inaudible>, at that time one of the leading. In fact, it was the most advanced oil platform in the world, that started doing carbon capture and storage. So anyway, we had UN- Energy, we created a report called 'The advisory group on energy and climate change', submitted the report and then the Copenhagen negotiations failed.

ML

Right. It's great to hear some of the background because I was so busy building New Energy Finance. And I had gotten to know Morgan because he was working in Ireland, with Eamon Ryan, and you know, I've been over there. And so, when somebody asked me to do this thing, that was one of the very, very first. I didn't know what to expect. Okay, so I'll give you my version. There's something going on, the UN is getting all excited. I was not aware, you know, I thought that you had kind of spotted energy and then taking it and sort of banging down the doors about energy. But it seems like there was a bit more luck involved or just... the planets just aligned. Suddenly, I was invited to go to Mexico, to a meeting hosted by Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world. And I, I jumped on a plane as one would, I turn up in Mexico. And literally, I check into the hotel, and there's a mini bus that takes me to some office building. And I'm actually upstairs, zoomed upstairs, and I'm in a room that's just full of the most extraordinary artwork. So when I say extraordinary, I mean, Lucas Cranachs, and Constables and Frida Kahlos... You know, there was, I think, Leonardo or two. It's just in this, sort of like a conference room, and we're having dinner, and then a mariachi playing. And I'm like... This is not what I'm used to. I don't know what's going on here. I like it, while I don't understand it. And do you remember that dinner?

 

KY

I remember that dinner, I was not expecting in that setting. I thought we were going to some hotel or restaurant. And Carlos took us to his main building. And you know, he had devoted some floors to some of his best collections.

 

ML

Because what he was doing, I think, that was the collection that went off afterwards to the Soumaya Museum. And that was the collection. It was just in this office building. There was a pieta on the stairs an incredible statue. You know, it was blowing my mind, that dinner. But that was the collection, wasn't it?

 

KY

Yes, he hosted that meeting for us, and it was important people like you and others. When they realise where that meeting was hosted many people showed up. They said: 'if the richest man in the world is hosting a meeting on energy, it must be important to him'. And I remember him telling me 'he said Mr. Yumkella , do you realise?'. I turned down a meeting with my president and explained to him: the reason is I'm hosting a meeting for the UN Secretary General. So he forgives me. But thanks to him, indeed, many of you came. And it was a defining meeting.

Because then we were still struggling with the narrative. What will be the best narrative, energy is so complex? As it touches everything in the world. How do we narrow it down to a simplified narrative or narratives that politicians, diplomats would accept? And what would be the...

 

ML

I'm sorry, because part of the background here is, of course, that this was still in the Millennium Development Goals period. Energy was really not on the radar screen as a separate issue. It was sort of the absent, the absent Millennium Goal in a way, wasn't it?

 

KY

That's what we called it. We said: 'this is the missing Millennium Development Goal'. And you cannot achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals without dealing with energy'. And so that was part of the struggle, we had experts from different walks of life, then different institutions, academics. And as you know, everybody had their pet issue. So let me talk about the narrative. And what I think we all achieved in Mexico, and refined as we moved along, was to narrow down to three narratives. We needed a narrative that will make the big five in the UN: United States, UK, France, China, Russia, but also India, Brazil, and the developing countries come to the table. So we came up with a narrative of energy for development, energy for poverty reduction, meaning energy as an enabler of the Millennium Development Goals.

You can't have hospitals running well, you can't have access to clean water, you can't fight poverty without access to energy. So we had to come up with that storyline, that narrative. The second one was, we were already being told by some: oh, you're not serious, you want to deal with energy, it has to be only renewables. In fact, now that you're talking about energy access, it seems as if you want more coal fired plants and more pollution in the world. Therefore, we needed a narrative that would appeal to the climate change environment group. And so, in the first narrative, we said: energy for all, meaning access for all. So some people, very cleverly, diplomats, said: 'well, why don't you have a sustainable energy for all?'. Ah, that was appealing to the climate change people, because it was about renewables and energy efficiency. And we could show the immediate cost benefit and climate. The third one was you, you and the private sector folks, gave us the private sector. And I have an anecdote here in Mexico, I was in the middle of my pontification, my advocacy to you and the others in the room, Carlos Slim was sitting. And you stopped me in my tracks. And you said: 'Kandeh, we like what you're saying, We agree that we can fight poverty, by making energy available. We agree you have a rights based approach' - because I used to talk about energy as rights, human rights. And then you say: 'but wait a minute Kandeh, we are business people, finance people. We like value propositions. So what is your value proposition for us? Because we have to report to our shareholders'. And I was frank with you, I said: 'Michael, I don't know what you mean by value proposition'. I said: 'that's the point, I want you to teach me!'. And Carlos, and others all - everybody started laughing, others joining. But I have a feeling that endeared me to you and several private sector folks that: hey, the UN is humble enough to say he doesn't understand that language. So you fast forward. After that, we started talking about de-risking, I started learning from you guys, what we meant by de-risking investments, green bonds, innovative

financing, you know, and so on, and so forth. So Mexico was important in defining those narratives. And also agreeing later on that: look, let's not talk about everything, let's stick to two things. And we chose energy access and energy efficiency. And that time we embedded renewables in the access story. Yes, if you have renewables, then you can have decentralised energy for community based power production. So that's where we embedded, it was much later that we unpacked it and said: no, renewables should have its own identity.

 

ML

That's right, because eventually, they were those three targets, which was about renewables, it was about efficiency, and it was about all the emphasis on that all. So again, it's great to hear that episode from your perspective, because what happened to me is I had been invited to talk to a few conferences, there's a very memorable occasion, where I was invited to talk to environment ministers in Monaco, actually in about 2007. And I had stood up and I had showed my charts, I showed my data, and I had said: 'there's plenty of money for clean energy, there's a wall of money, don't worry about it, loads of money, but you have to be attractive to the money'. And I thought this was a perfectly acceptable contribution. And I then went from the stage there was some breakouts and some workshops, and it was one of those big rooms and the, you know, the sort of UN style system where people put their card vertical in order to speak. And I thought, now they're going to speak and they're going to say, you know: okay, how do we structure to get some of this money. One after the other. The delegations, not the ministers, delegations attacked me. They said I was the problem, because there is no money and the idea that it would be available only as a investment we need... It is our right to have clean energy, and it is our right to have development. I'm talking about private money, you can take that approach to public money, right? It may or may not work, but it's going to be this big. What I'm talking about is this much money, massive amounts of money in the private savings, but then you have to attract it. You can't force it, you can't use that rights-based approach. And so I had sort of, I had a bit of scar tissue, because I was really that... I mean, people really attacked me at that meeting. And so, when I then found that you were receptive, this is actually quite an exciting... You know, to say: okay, well, now we can work together on how do we acknowledge the rights, but create propositions that the private sector can back into and can fund. And I think it's been very, I think it's been very productive. It doesn't do everything, but it's done a lot.

 

KY

Well, I should also say that the first report, what we call 'The advisory group on energy and climate change', report that we gave to the Secretary General, became a little complicated.

 

ML

That was 2011, wasn't it? When we produced that.

KY

No, the second report is what we did in 2011. That was about 2009.

 

ML

I missed all of this.

 

KY

Yes, we had collected so many good ideas. I mean, we also have Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber At that time, he oversaw Mazdar, the new city that they were going to build, that would be zero emissions city. He hosted meetings for me in the UAE, in Abu Dhabi. And at one point in New York, it was the CEO of Statoill, Helge Lund . We're sitting together and then he asked me a question at the lunchtime. And remember, he was CEO of, what the second biggest gas supplier to Europe, but he will give time. Carlos Slim will give time also by video, to be in our meetings.

So Helge Lund asked me the question: 'so, Kandeh, with all these many ideas, how are you going to put this together in a small report, and you said, it should not exceed 15 pages? But energy is so complicated'. And I said: 'oh, yeah, I'll get some guys to sit with us, they've. It was this group that Jeremy Oppenheim was heading.

 

ML

McKinsey.

 

KY

Yeah. He said: 'call in McKinsey and they know how to put ideas together in simple sound bites, and they can help you get a report ready in three weeks, which is all you have left to give a report to the Secretary General'. And Jamal from the World Bank was next to me and he said: 'but they're very expensive'. So they gave me the contacts. And indeed, we called McKinsey, they handed me over to Jeremy Oppenheim. And Jerry, said: listen to me hey, this would be a very good opportunity, because all of us want energy to be prominent'. So to cut a long story short, we worked out a good deal. He gave me some huge discount because it was the UN. And he came to the final meeting in Abu Dhabi. And I was really amazed, I had sent it to Tim Wirth. I had all these CEOs there, about 17 of us, Carlos was on video. And I saw the McKinsey team, four them. They facilitated that session for me, picked out the good ideas that we had picked up in our reports. And indeed in three weeks, we had a narrowed down report. Met in Vienna, I hosted there two - three days with Morgan Bazilian, my team joined them. And we came out with a simple report that went to the Secretary General. Then Copenhagen failed, and some ambassadors went to Ban Ki-moon in January before Davos, they said: 'we know you don't feel good. We didn't get this big deal we were expecting from Copenhagen. But guess what, you have some very good recommendations from a report that was given to you by that energy group you set up. Because strictly speaking, our work was finished. So they told him go back

and take that report. Some very good recommendations. You can take action on those while we build the momentum for you, for the next Climate Summit. So several weeks later, Secretary General went to Davos came back, and I got a call from New York: 'Mr. Yumkella, the Secretary General and his team have looked at the reports you gave him several months ago. And they want you to expand the advisory group. We've just had a good initiative on "Every Woman, Every Child", a big advisory group that has been very successful. We want to use this model. and now we need 40 to 50 people in their advisory group'. And of course, I said to them: 'are you crazy?'. They said: 'no, we want to take more action on energy'. Pleasant surprise. So we started putting names together. And that's the big advisory group that you played such a big role in, because then, now I had some degrees of freedom. I could balance it out to bring in 15 private sector, because I had 40 to 50 that I could choose from. So do you remember Sir Mark Moody-Stuart with Shell at that time? The former CEO of Duke Energy, Jim Rogers. Yes, he had just done a module with another big company. Chad, Chad was Co-Chair. So we went back to the Secretary General, and I said: 'look, you made me chair the first one. This one I cannot chair if you want 10 to 15 big private sector, guys, they need to see their face in it. So my advice is get a big CEO, and a president or so to chair this'. And I was told later that they showed him everything. And he said: 'I will take a CEO but I want Yumkella to chair it again.

And they asked him why. He said 'Yumkella understand the politics'. Energy issues are still very sensitive within the UN. And he's proven now that he knows, how to navigate the politics while advocating. So we looked through the names and Chad Holliday was very prominent because he was very helpful in Kofi Annan's Global Compact, as former CEO of DuPont, and now he was chairman of Bank of America. And lo and behold, Chad agreed to co-chair with me. And I'm sure, and I can tell you this, one of the benefits from advising, just only advising on energy, we came up with this new initiative. I became, Chad and I became advisors on Sustainable Energy for All. We formed the advisory group on Sustainable Energy Forum. And we were very clear with what we wanted. We wanted a Sustainable Development Goal on energy. We wanted to go to Rio+20 in Brazil, make big impacts more than any other group, and so that more CEOs.

We wanted to bring in the digital companies, utilities, we want to play big. And thirdly, to bring in civil society. And so that's where the UN Foundation was very instrumental, with Ted Turner and Addis giving us that support from their side. And of course, governments like Norway, the UK, Austria, Denmark, Sweden. All of them backed us with some initial money to finance this bigger group. But then we had heavyweights as I said - CEO of Accenture, Shell, Bank of America chairman, and so on. You can provide your listeners with a list it was a...

 

ML

And Chad Holliday. I think I met also then Eldar Sætre, who's the CEO of Equinor now, it used

to be Statoil. That was John Kerry, I think was in your group.

 

KY

John Kerry was in there. By the way, that's another story. I was asked the Secretary of State of the United States normally does not serve on external advisory groups. 'We want to know, Mr. Yumkella, how come our Secretary of State agreed to serve on this one?'. That was a tip I got from a friend of his They said John Kerry is new Secretary of State, but his heart is in climate. If you approach him because of this Ban Ki-moon he might say 'yes'. And you know, he set up a good team for us. And they would brief him, he'd send back his comments. So his team, so it was an alias and several ministers from Europe, from Africa as well. We put in some projects and we had the president of the Brazilian Development Bank. All the development bank, presidents of the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank. So...

 

ML

Look at me, I'm Michael Liebreich from little tiny New Energy Finance, which had been sold to Bloomberg, of course.

 

KY

Yes, at that time you had sold off to Bloomberg, but here is what... That group was important because we also did something well. We made Ban Ki-moon, the Chair, and the president of World Bank, the Co-Chair, which means we combined the convening power of the UN and convening power of the World Bank, because you and some others have told me: nothing happens without finance ministers. Even the UK or Germany, if they make commitments to solve climate change, or solve global poverty, they have to go back to the exchequer. So the finance minister to say: do we have money for the country to fulfil its pledge. So I have been advised by a number of you to say: look, if you want finance ministers from developing countries and the advanced countries, you have to get the World Bank in. So that convening power gave us finance ministers, foreign ministers, and energy ministers. Then we had Davos, the CEO or president of Davos, the Davos forum, also gave us time and give us a good team to back us up. So now what did you see? We were combining fora. Remember, you had also developed now our annual forums. And I remember representing the Secretary General there.

 

ML

That's right. In the park. Do you remember, we went <inaudible> in New York? And do you know what I was doing? Because, you know, it's fascinating to hear the story, because I only saw one side of it. But you know what I did, I invited you to speak to what was then the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit, which was in a big conference centre, but we got a special session for you in the Boat House. I thought, look, I got all of these clients, all of these financiers, the developers, the energy companies, and most of them would not give the developing world time of day. They just weren't, they just not... 'it's not a place we can invest. Our shareholders not interested. It's risky. It's complicated. It's corrupt. It's this that now that I'm not interested'. And then Michael comes along and says: no, no, you need to come to this

event, because we're going to do it nicely. And it's really exciting. There's stuff going on, and you need to listen to my friend Kandeh Yumkella, and that's how I get them into room. And in 2010, or 2011, I think, sometime around then. And you did great, you knocked this one off.

 

KY

I think the first event you had, was in Union Station. And then we...

 

ML

That's right. That's right. Yes, the Union Station, that would have been early 2010. And then the park would have been 2011, when we really gave you your own event, a moderator and everything.

 

KY

Exactly, exactly. And then you so... Sustainable Energy for All, we leveraged the convening power of you, Accenture, Davos for the private sector. And Schwab gave us sessions that people will pay thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars to have a session like that. And he gives it to us almost... Give it to us three times in a row, and then side events, because he also wanted to take action on climate and energy. So combining these convening powers brought so many more people to the table. UN Foundation helped us mobilise 2000 NGOs. And all of this came together for all of us in Rio+20. So we went to Rio+20, as one of the most well organised groups for Rio+20. And we were the first group already in 2012 that defined three clear targets: universal access, doubling the share of renewables, and also doubling the annual rate of improvement of energy efficiency. It was after that Rio event...

 

ML

Just let me stop. You have to explain where, I think, for our audience, whether they're watching on YouTube or listening on podcast. Rio+20, that was 2012, that's the 20th anniversary of the original Rio summit. And also, it's three years before the end of the Millennium Development Goals and the beginning of the next round. So I think, you know, I'm sort of aware, as an outsider at this point, that things are getting really political within the UN. There's everything going on. There's jockeying for positions within the agencies, there's jockeying for positions within the sustainable development. Millennium Development Goals, nobody cared about because they didn't. When they first came in, they nobody knew that they would become a

really big organising principle. But by 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals, it became an absolute, it became very contested space, didn't it? And that's what you have inserted yourself into.

KY

So you're looking at now, but by 2012 we had three years into everything we had done. And this does not include the many lunches and briefings we had to do in New York to educate the diplomats there on the narratives, and I got so much support from various embassies. And then we had to deal with politics. 'Renewables energy' at that time sounded 'empty oil'. So we needed to bring the oil countries into this discussion. And Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber from UAE was very helpful then. We had to convince the BRICS, remember that BRICS was becoming a very powerful political bloc. Russia, Brazil, China, India. So I remember at that time, politics matters. The US was also a little bit suspicious, because I have been taught by some of the best research guys and environmental groups about all these climate targets. And the EU had come up with their 2020 targets for their own energy targets. So I said: hey, 2020 is romantic, so I'll come up with 30-30-30. And so I started talking about 30% renewables in the energy mix. And the environmental has convinced me to say 40% improvement in energy efficiency, what they taught me to talk about energy intensity. Why is the politics important? Of course, the BRICS countries, and some of the developing emerging economies said to me: 'Kandeh, you're playing the climate card here. You're trying to smuggle into this discussion? Things we're disagreeing in the climate negotiations? For example, why do you keep talking about energy intensity? Do you know why the energy intensity in India is high? Or Brazil? Or the emerging economies because we do the manufacturing, the advanced OECD countries are transitioning into the digital economy and services. So we will not support you with this energy intensity language. Why don't you talk about energy efficiency?'. I said: 'okay, so I had to switch from energy intensity to energy efficiency before Brazil. So when I went to Brazil to negotiate for special sessions for Sustainable Energy for All, their experts gave me a hard time. Yeah. But I learned from them. So I found language that was useful, that they would buy, that India would buy.

 

ML

Deal with the coal issue, because I remember around that time, there were a lot of powerful people, and actually Jamal Saghir was one of them, saying: developing world has every right and even a responsibility to its people to build huge coal fired power stations. Of course, we now know South Africa, you know these, the Medupe power station has been a catastrophe for South Africa and for its energy, the economics of this energy system. But at that time, it was quite hard to say: no, no - renewable energy, or clean, cleaner energy will be better, because the economics hadn't yet plummeted. I mean, we're talking in 2011, it was still pretty expensive, you know. Now we all know, but it is obvious, that you know, wind, solar and batteries, etc., etc., is much easier to position. But at the time, there was a lot of pushback, was there not? How did you deal with that?

KY

Big pushback. Fortunately, I also had <inaudible> in the advisory group. So I have the all of the players on the table: the Brazilians, the South Africans, the Chinese, the Russians, Saudi Arabia,

<inaudible>oil groups. And we could see the backlash everywhere. Even to me, the African ministers and others say: what are you talking about, Kandeh? Some of us have coal in the Southern Africa region: why should we not use it? And the economics was not right. So that's why the narrative of energy for development was important. And then the narrative: was hey, you can do decentralised energy for community based development and energy efficiency is good for you. Because we also have numbers, that developing countries, some of them were losing 30-40% in transmission. So you put all this together, we went to Rio, we decided then to make sure that our politics was right for Rio. So I give you an example. I was asked to give a contribution to the negotiators for the Rio outcome document. I sat with the UN colleagues, we came up with a paragraph. All we wanted was a paragraph in the outcome document so that we can make the case for a goal for energy. We gave them a paragraph. When they started negotiating, the paragraph became three pages, but the three pages were brackets. And in the UN negotiation when we put anything in brackets, it means we don't agree on it. And most of the bracket was what green energy should not be. Because we were making a mistake. We're talking about green energy, not renewables. And everybody was suspicious. They say: 'wait a minute, you develop on coal, you industrialised on coal. What do you mean by green energy that is not tested?'. So and you can see the brackets, what green energy cannot be. What sustainable energy cannot be, and it became three pages. I was discouraged. But two of my lead ambassadors who backed me in New York, who knew the game, and they were the best knowledgeable in energy, they pulled me aside, they say: 'look, don't feel bad. The fact is, you have the attention'. They say: 'whenever we're negotiating energy, everybody shows up. They say for you that's a plus already, because in the past, energy was a deal breaker. Because it always came down to the geopolitics of oil and gas'. They said, for the first time, we have people continuously coming to the sessions. Is it the more they add what it is not, the more, they want to be there, because they didn't want somebody smuggling something. So by the time, we got to Rio everybody wanted to talk about energy, which was not easy before. But they would not agree on the clear language, but they agreed on the access language. So after Rio, so we succeeded. But the good news was the private sector came there. And every, most of the big private sector players wanted to be part of the energy events. And the Brazilians, God bless them, so the Minister of Energy of Brazil, Petrobras, and these guys, they organised events for me like you've never seen, and had TV, the media. Meanwhile, we have 2000 NGOs backing an energy initiative and they were mainly social sector NGOs, telling me what energy meant for delivering food security, explained to people what energy meant for health, for community health service care delivery. So we came to Rio, and after the whole event, when they were adding our pledges, the energy sector had over 50 billion pledges And Helen Clark, who was part of our group, she was Head of UNDP at that time, but also former Prime Minister

of New Zealand, she said one of the most successful set of events, were the energy events. Because the companies came, you know, big time, they wanted to make the case for energy efficiency, some of those that were already improving their supply chains. I mean, so we... At the end of that this part is interesting. I was asked by Chad Holliday and Tim Wirth, they pulled me aside the last day, they say: 'Kandeh, what do you plan doing going forward?'. I said: 'oh, my job is finished. I was doing two jobs. I was running UNIDO and running this energy show for three years, it's killing. Because every two weeks, I was in a plane going somewhere. So thank God, here's your report. You guys, your team, and Accenture and others that helped me with, what we call, high impact initiatives. We had our second...'.

 

ML

I remember, that was my idea behind./It was so many initiatives. And I said: we got to get a structure here, in Abu Dhabi.

 

KY

You came up with that, and some of those companies, other activities accelerator, the private guys gave me language of accelerators for energy efficiency in buildings. So they pulled me aside, I said: 'my job is finished. Now I can have a normal life'. They said: 'no, we want you to do something'. I said: 'what is that?'. 'Why don't you leave UNIDO?' Oh, and now lead this full time. They say: 'look, we have been around the block many times, we have seen something happening in Rio that we never saw before. Remember, Hillary Clinton came to our special event and pledged 2 billion for the US. The Prime Minister of Denmark was there. I mean, presidents came to our show, everybody wanted to make a statement somewhere inside events on energy'. So these two guys pulled me aside to say: 'look, we want to convert this to an initiative. We're going to talk to the Secretary General, to take this momentum and all these great ideas you have from the private sector, on accelerators, high impact programmes, give it full time'.

 

ML

And that's the genesis of Sustainable Energy for All, as an initiative as an actual organisation, with a budget, etc.

 

KY

Exactly. And in Rio, in a dinner organised again, on behalf of <inaudible>. They did a special event for her when people were giving her tributes because this was now Rio+20, two decades after her wonderful initiative of sustainable development. It was in that dinner. Some of the ministers were there. And I remember the Swedish minister coming over to my table: 'so, Kandeh, where do we go from here?'. And I said: 'well, we want to build a coalition. I need money. I've been asked that maybe I should lead an initiative, but we don't have a single dime'.

She said: 'what do you need?'. I say: 'I don't know right now'. She said: 'okay, I'll keep some money for you from the Swedish Development Aid fund'. So from talking to her, I started going to the other tables, I say: 'hey, we want to move forward. How much would you pledge?'. So you come back. Three months later, four months later, I had commitments already, of almost two to three million dollars to start, to start this initiative, to support the Secretary General,

<inaudible>, and that we built up to almost $11 million overtime.

 

ML

Today, instead, the funny thing is for me, I was in Rio+20. And it was sort of triumphant because we were coherent. We had our lines, we had... we knew the three goals, and it was great. And then for the rest of 2012 though, it kind of went very quiet. So this was, remember, what this was the year of Sustainable Energy for All. It wasn't supposed to be the six months, culminating in Brazil with Rio+20 - was supposed to be the whole year. And then suddenly, we were back from Rio and kind of nothing happened. And then of course, it started again, as Sustainable Energy for All in 2013. But for me, as an outsider, I was like: what happened? Did we win? Or did we... you know, what's going on?

 

KY

Again, we started learning the politics of negotiations. And again, this I give credit to the Swedish... the Swiss ambassador, who was then chairman of the General Assembly, people had convinced me to approach him, which I did to give me a decade of energy. And he said: 'young man, I can't give you a decade'. He said they'll kill it. 'Why don't you ask for a year, choose a year, I chose 2012 to 2013, because I think the Montreal Protocol... Kyoto protocol was also coming to an end, right around that period. So the experts advise me to choose that time. So we spent that time now understanding the UN negotiating process, because after Rio, remember, there was a huge outcome document. Now you have to negotiate hard, what goes in to an SDG? And what cannot go in?

 

ML

Remember, there was this document called 'The future we want', which was about this thick. I mean, I couldn't even... the future was so complex. I never made it to the last page.

 

KY

Yeah, the good news was that we got the year of Sustainable Energy for All, which went very well. We focused on New York at that time, to get the diplomats into it. And that was the purpose. We brought in people from their countries. Remember, most of the diplomats are not engineers. They're not energy people. But we brought people from their countries to talk about technology, I remember doing lunches, a lot of embassies, African embassies, the European Union as a group - very supportive - the Indian government, Brazil. So after Rio, I had this big

countries now, sending their ministers, or their businessman, or experts, to explain to different communities in New York - communities of ambassadors - why their country thought energy was important. The Saudi ambassador became very helpful to us because at that time, Saudi was trying to invest heavily in a new research centre on renewables. They were going to do some solar farms and wind farms. So and they were pushing energy efficiency Prince Abdulaziz was on my advisory board, and he was trying to drive energy efficiency in Saudi Arabia. So you move forward then, we launched the initiative of Sustainable Energy for All. Chad Holliday and I continue to now, still as Chad was now Chair of the Board, I was also Co-Chair. We've continued from 2012 to 2013. To continue to define those three goals, and then we define the targets underneath and then we had to work with research centres - International Energy Agency,, Morgan linked me up with NREL in the US, the Indian TERI the Energy Resources Institute. We also had to collaborate with Accenture, on efficiency they became in Paris. They drove energy efficiency for me and my number of companies, so we created clusters. So you had solar groups, forming a cluster on renewable energy with companies and research centres. Then we created the knowledge hub in the World Bank with some of the best research entities on research to help. So that everything I said in public was backed by good analysis. That helped me. We had a finance group led by Bank of America, they brought in Citigroup. At that time, I didn't know what a green bond was, but they were working on it. So by the time, we went into 2015, when we went for the big adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals, our goal was defined two years ahead of everybody. And let me give you something else that was going parallel. I created two energy forums that still exist today. I created the Vienna Energy Forum. I created Vienna and they wanted it to become the energy Davos. And you wouldn't believe it. And then I invited Schwarzenegger to come to the show.

 

ML

That's right. I was gonna say... I was, I was there. I was there. I met him.

 

KY

I brought Schwarzenegger to the show. Now the Vienna Energy Forum became the knowledge hub in a sense because everybody came. Two thousand people, Schwarzenegger just made it, you know, really prominent for us. Students wanted to be there.

 

ML

Vienna just to be You are in Vienna now as we speak, because of your time at UNIDO, which

was based in Vienna, correct?

 

KY

Yeah. And so we had another I created the Vienna Energy Forum, which we held every two

years. And then I created another forum, which we call the Sustainable Energy for All Forum in

New York. Two different audiences. People said it's a duplication, I said no. New York is meant for diplomats and more civil society groups. Vienna was for the energy experts. So I have over 500 energy experts managed from around the world because they were working on the global energy access report for the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis.

 

ML

Naki,Nakicenovic

 

KY

Nakicenovic

 

ML

Yes.

 

KY

So in Vienna, I created an audience, for the academics, the researchers, but on top of them, thanks to Schwarzenegger, other people decided to come. So suddenly, I was running two big forums. But then your forum was always juxtaposed in April, in the middle of these two events, and all of them was building political momentum three years. The Energy Forum was useful for a reason. In the Vienna Energy Forum, we could throw any idea on the table, why because with experts, any crazy idea will come. So we tested a lot of things in Vienna before facing politics in New York. So my targets... The day I said in the Vienna Energy Forum, and it was deliberate, then we're going to establish a new target - 30% renewables in the global energy mix by 2030. There was an opera. Mr. Yumkella, question and answer time, 2014. 'Where did you get that number from?' How did you arrive at that number?' I said: 'well, I'm not a politician. I am a global advocate. I'm telling you that I believe it's doable. And some experts from about three - four institutions have told me that that pathway is possible. You prove me wrong'. Of course, they tolerated me. Everybody knew me then. And the debate started amongst the experts. Some saying it was doable, the NGO saying that is cowardly, it's not enough. And in fact, I had a petition in my hand from Friends of the Earth, and 25 NGOs, telling me the targets I was beginning to advocate for were too modest, I was not ambitious enough. Now here's the joke.

30% became realistic because the COP, UNF Triple C came with scenarios that were 45% and 70%. So Yumkella did not look stupid anymore. 30% seemed feasible. But I give you a US story about those numbers. Again, I said all of this was learning. I was called into State Department, I will not name who called me there. And I was very nervous. Wondering why they wanted to see me, these were negotiators for UN, for the United States in the COP. And they put me down: Mr. Yumkella, we want to help you, but where are you getting your numbers from? We hear you talk about 30% renewables by 2030. 40% improvement in energy efficiency. Are you kidding me? You think we will go to US Congress with your numbers? You want to impose

numbers on the United States'. And this is a backdoor for climate change. So we started back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And then one of them said: 'we want to help you, why don't you change it towards? For example, if you say double the share of renewables, in the global energy mix, you get 30% by 2030, because now we said it's at 15%'. I said: 'are you kidding me?'. They say: 'yeah, globally it's between 13% to 14%, maybe 15%. If you said double the share, there are no numbers we can sell that in the States. Take your energy efficiency, you want 40%? If you push for 1.5%, or 2% per year, you get your 40%. And this was around 2010'. They say you can do this. So leave the numbers, use words. I left the meeting, I call the researchers, I say: 'hey, is this true?'. Everybody started checking. They said it is true. I went back to New York, sat with Bob Orr - do you remember Bob Orr?

 

ML

I'm gonna say, this is a name... We can't finish this without Bob. Bob Orr was my man in the SG office. Absolutely.

 

KY

And he delivered the SG each time we needed him for 10 minutes, or 30 minutes in every forum.

 

ML

He did it for me as well, if I was... if I needed SG to talk at a conference, I had to go to Bob.

 

KY

So I called Bob, I said: 'Bob, they said, we have organised a luncheon for the Secretary General with all these ministers of the General Assembly and Heads of States. We have to change these things to words'. He checked also with other researchers, MIT and so on. He called me back, he said: 'Kandeh, yes'. So we tested it in a luncheon in New York. And two friends called me out, right in the middle of the lunch, the moment Secretary General finish this speech. And they said: 'Kandeh, what happened to our numbers?'. Of course, those two friends were climate folks.

 

ML

Yeah.

 

KY

Thank you. And I said 'Hey!', and I was frank with them. I say: 'here's what happened. So we changed it'. And you see the responses very good in all, one backed off. Another one was also a negotiator from the European Union, pulled me aside. 'What happened to the numbers, you

remember, we have 20-20-20, you used to have universal access, 30% and 40%'. what happened?. And again, I give the explanation.

 

ML

But the great triumph was that this became SDG 7. This is again until 2030. Everybody has to live with Kandeh's numbers, Kandeh's double the energy efficiency, double the proportion of renewables and universal access. That's now enshrined, which must have been a huge triumph you must have felt pretty pleased at the end of that journey.

 

KY

Yeah, at the end of that journey, I was really happy. Kofi Annan did something for me as well, Kofi Annan, Ted Turner, they invited me to New York to give me an award for global leadership. And that award had also been... Desmond Tutu, and myself on stage. And Kofi told me privately, he said: 'young men, you've achieved something big that you don't realise. You mobilised the world , it's real. I said Secretary General, I knew how difficult energy discussions are. He said: 'my first reform proposal, I included some statement on energy, but it was just three or four lines. You pulled off a coalition, everybody agreeing on an energy target'. So then, of course, you know, when you do well, you've seen it in your career. Some people are planning ahead for you already. Of course, my good friend Chad Holliday, Chad is like a mentor to me.

Chad again pulled me aside. He says: 'Kandeh, you have your targets. The world is happy, but how do you do it?'. I said: 'hey, Chuck, that's for the experts to deliver now and the government'. He said: 'no, there is a momentum here on energy. Let's talk about investments, delivery mechanisms'. I said: 'please, Sir, I have given so much of my life to this thing, I did a life'. So indeed, Chad again, Tim, <inaudible> other guys they say 'hey...'. Aaron Steele was.. He's now at... Resources Institute...

 

ML

A great friend, a great friend to both of us.

 

KY

A lot of good friends. Andrew pulled me aside as well, he said: 'Kandeh, the job is not finished. We need to move more. We need action now'. And I remember in the UK, Prime Minister Cameron, Prime Minister Cameron was hosting a meeting for the Clean Energy Ministerial.

 

ML

That's right.

KY

I was smuggled into that. Secretary Chu and others, they had included me in the meeting in India. And you know, I learned now from you private sector guys, that you have five minutes to make a pitch. That's it, Kandeh! And the media teams. So they started teaching me how to make a pitch for five minutes. So I got used to this thing, now being dragged in front of television, or this big meetings with people like Cameron and prime ministers, what for five minutes. And they'll coach me exactly what I had to say. And I had to leave. So I walked in there, but they said: 'hey, you're unpredictable. We don't know how you're going to say, these three words have to be there'. And I go back and make my pitch. So we started thinking now implementation. And one other contribution, so we got our SDG. But then we needed financing. And that's where Chad Holliday became instrumental. He convinced the CEO of Bank of America to put a team together, they put some of their best minds in Bank of America, they brought in Citigroup, and others into the discussion. They came up with innovative financing instruments in our reports. They believe in the report so much, that when I did an event in New York, the CEO came there himself, he said: 'we believe in what we've recommended, and we're putting a billion dollars on the table'. And then another friend, Commissioner Piebalgs of the European Commission, we achieved so much with Piebalgs and President Barroso. I was in Brussels so often, Piebalgs, the moved me convinced the EU to have energy as their third pillar in the development programme. And EU put about two to three billion euros in support to countries, developing countries, that would prioritise energy, of course, including renewables.

Because some of these countries did not have the basic policy document. So they had money enough for technical assistance. They had money, Barroso put 400 million euros in EIB that countries could have access to, if they had investment plans So World Bank, and, you saw, the development banks, African, all of them putting money in to the development programmes. The UK, and Denmark, Austria, all of these guys. And I have to give credit to the president of Austria, President Fischer. Fischer gave me every support you can imagine. Once I hosted the presidents here in the Vienna Energy Forum. And by sheer coincidence, they were all centre left presidents from Chile and Spain. He hosted them in the Hofburg. And when I did events in New York, even if it was busy, President Fischer will give me 30 minutes to come to the event, even in the evening. And of course here they use their diplomatic channels. So we moved from getting the target to getting delivery, which means monies into various organisations of<inaudible>, the donors increase their funding for <inaudible>. I also have to give credit to the Moroccans, that Morrocans can set static big initiatives on desert, their concentrated solar...

 

ML

Was Power Africa, in the US, was that part of it?

 

KY

Power Africa came later.

 

ML

...came later, ok.

 

KY

Power Africa came later. But yes, they were willing to talk to us, but Hillary Clinton and Mrs. Clinton, we have to give her credit. She launched the initiative on clean cooking for us at that time. And I was on stage with them at the Clinton Global Initiative. By the way, that was another forum that influenced me, because I watched an interview, Bill Clinton was asked how come 10 years after he had left the presidency, every year he successfully hosted heads of states and his initiative and, of course, billionaires came there to pledge. He said something which made me develop the New York Forum. He said: 'look, we already have a ready made audience, they come to the UN anyway'. What I have done is give them another event where they can come and have action on critical global challenges. This is all part of my success is also because they are here already. But of course, you cannot come here without making a pledge. So we took some of those ideas, Jim Rogers and I used to go there to the Clinton Global Initiative on Energy Access, they picked up energy access as well. But then we started redesigning our programme, our conference in New York, with the help of Chad Holliday, that if private sector people came or countries they came, they had to make a commitment of some sort to take action. So you've seen that, with that in moving in to implementation, the high impact programmes you spawn off one or two of those, into private sector, young guys, picked up some of your ideas for companies. Yariv Cohen you remember his initiative that helped Rwanda push for distributed energy.

 

ML

By the way, I'm still on his advisory board.

 

KY

Okay.

 

ML

It's called 'Ignite solar'.

 

KY

'Ignite'?

ML

Ignite solar for medicine, basically, it's now solar, to power medical access. And of course, it's very important in these times of COVID, that there's diagnostic equipment and so on across the developing world. So that's what he's doing now. Still doing it.

 

KY

Now, I mean, I left the UN five years ago, what I can tell you what...

 

ML

Let me ask about that. Because 2015... You know... This is you, I know you, I know you, you could continue for as long as I let you talking about all these other marvellous people came along, I was in some of those Clinton Global Initiative pledge sessions, and it was an extraordinary time. So people did really kind of pile in, and we're in a different world now for energy in the developing world. But you in 2015, you announced that you would be going... leaving Sustainable Energy for All, with so much unfinished business, but you were going to go back into, you hand it over to somebody who was actually our guest on the second episode of 'Cleaning Up' - Rachel Kyte. Incredibly, of course, able the perfect person to take this all forwards. But you then decided to go back and serve in Sierra Leone, was that a difficult decision? You know, I want to, I want to understand that because it was such a kind of... I mean, in some ways, it was a big career change.

 

KY

I would not say it was difficult, because it was an emotional decision. So, but it was a huge, risky decision. And most of my friends disagreed with me because I was at the pinnacle of my career, I had built something that the world needed then. And but I was influenced a lot also by Ebola. My country had been devastated in the year before 2014 by Ebola, and in the middle of doing energy stuff, I was also on, on CNN, I was on Sky News, BBC Al Jazeera, advocating for, for a help to my country on Ebola. At that time, also, I was a little frustrated with the bad indicators. My country was always at the bottom of the heap of human development, or one of the three worst countries on so many targets. And so it was an emotional decision. And I saw how I went to the country three times during Ebola, how devastating Ebola was, and I said: 'look, this will break this country, we need a new leadership, I have to go help['. And of course, I had seen around the world, I have travelled a lot to many countries, emerging economies, poor countries, you name it. And I have so... I had seen, I had seen what good leadership meant. That I mean, my big example sometimes used to be Angela Merkel, when she announced that she was going to phase out nuclear power. And then I used to go to Klaus Töpfer's sessions in Potsdam, and I saw how these guys were thinking about energy systems, innovation, what it meant. I was once invited to the Bundestag, and Klaus invited me there. And I saw how they were thinking and how that decision by Angela Merkel fed into universities, introducing courses on energy

economics and energy systems. I saw what was happening there in research, innovation, but then I remember stories in the US about Sputnik. Well, how Sputnik can influence science and technology in the States. Because of that challenge. Of course, then I have been with ..., some of the energy companies, I see them projecting scenarios for 10 - 20 years. And I said: that's where leadership comes in. Only the shape at the strategic level, building the right teams and setting a vision. So that motivated me to want to go home. But then also, I've been to Rwanda, I had been to Cambodia, countries that had war, war worse than the Civil War we had. And I saw how they have transformed at that time already in 2015. I had Pascal Lamy, who was head of WTO. And I had hosted a meeting years before in Cambodia. And that year, Cambodia became self-sufficient in rice production. And I said: 'wait a minute, this is the country of Pol Pot, destroyed. But look how they built themselves in 10 years, with factories to make Nike boots, and so on. And they were moving into energy as well. So first of all, it was indignation at what was wrong with the country. But then the message of hope and possibilities, that innovation that I had seen in the energy space. And thirdly, disruption. At that time, there was a lot of talk by you and others about disruptive technologies. And I said: 'wait a minute. So yes, you can disrupt business models. You can also disrupt politics if you want'. So I wanted to go in there, with these fresh ideas and all the goodwill and to say - let's see, if we can transform the lives of 7 million people, bring all these ideas and friends, and networks... I remember your last session, Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York, you gave me the podium for seven minutes. And let me tell you, the clip you did by the time I left this day, you guys were so good. By the time I left the stage, of everything I said, you pick up a clip of why I was going back, that clip became viral. It became viral everywhere. They said: 'wow, he's leaving this audience!' And remember that, then you told me: 'Kandeh, you're standing in front of funds managers that amongst them, maybe are sitting on 3 billion, $300 billion. These guys invest in all kinds of innovation. Tell them why you're going home. But tell them what the work you've done already and the challenge is ahead'. And of everything I said, your team picked out those three and I remember leaving the stage. Your moderator, the lady who used to coordinate everything, she came up to me and said: 'Kandeh, I almost came to tears when I heard what you said'. Lo and behold, bam! That clip came out. So I went home. Very difficult transition because I was greeted rough. I immediately saw the rough nature of real politics. I've been there now five years, no regrets. I am convinced, my country needs new ideas. We need to be part of the 21st century. When you see the problems we have, and how archaic our institutions are, you realise how much enlightenment is required. But also now, let me tell you, the advantage for my work in energy. Now I live in Ground Zero, electrification rates in my country is less than 15%. Okay, my constituency I represent is one of the poorest in terms of energy access, but also one of the poorest in terms of development in the country. Some of the worst social indicators, one of the highest maternal mortality rates. In fact, I think the second or third highest maternal mortality rates, in the country with the highest maternal mortality rate. And so you can see all of that

high teenage pregnancy. But every month, I have to be in my constituency. And they got their first minigrid a year ago.

 

ML

Remember that, I have a little bit of... I've never been to Sierra Leone, I have a little bit of an insight into this because of the project that I did. Three years ago, actually, with my wife and with a bunch of friends in a Bo government hospital where I saw a tweet late at night from an Irish doctor, Dr. Niall Conroy, who I believe you've met since, or certainly spoken to. And, he tweeted and said that there was a power cut, and three babies died. And this is unacceptable in a modern world. And it hit me, I was going to some posh dinner with the Taoiseach in Ireland, and so on. And I just thought that is unacceptable. And we went we built a solar and battery system and we had all sorts of problems doing it. And it was a tough, tough, tough project to manage. But I did, get some insight and I've seen the videos of how, just how transformational really quite modest interventions can be, and we are in an era where the, the, the... plus inside is that we can accelerate and move very quickly. But, but it's... it's not trivial, by any means.

 

KY

It's not trivial. And today my advocacy is even better grounded. Because why? I am in the ground zero of what energy poverty means and how it touches everything. Second, I am with the real people. Yeah. Second, I mean, the legislative. So...

 

ML

You're member of the parliament and a party leader

 

KY

Member of Parliament, and I thought I was crazy. I said, everything has to go to Parliament's in developing countries, in developed countries, you need legislation to back policy, to give confidence to investors...

 

ML

...for the audience, just to remind them or to let them know, because they may not know. You went back to stand in 2015 - 2016, to stand in the presidential elections in 2018. Did very well for a new party and a new player, but didn't become president. And so, you took on the role, though, you took up your place as a member of parliament, which is where you are today, right?

 

KY

Yes, I ran for president I lost woefully.

ML

You say that!

 

KY

I mean, that's another story for another time, but I got a feel for real politic.

 

ML

Right.

 

KY

And I saw everything that vested interest can do to resist good ideas, to resist reform, because there's always a political economy, and the kleptocracy that benefits from chaos. Yeah, and I don't care how good your ideas are. If its ideas about reforming systems, bringing in more transparency, accountability, longevity of public policy. Everything I learned on investments, in my two decades of work on energy and seeing how other countries move forward with change and institutional reforms. Anytime you do good reforms, somebody will lose money. And they fight back, and when you have weak institutions, and in my country 70% illiteracy, so in a way, you can argue that I was way up here on strategy. But with 70% illiteracy, it was hard to connect. Also, the politics. I was... My new party was not was... deliberately not given a register to be, a licence to operate your five months before the elections, and we didn't have enough money. Others had money. So anyway, I chose to be in Parliament. And I have learned a lot about the good and the bad of law, and the bad in lawmaking. I have also seen how generally, corruption is probably the number one impediment to change and development, corruption in every which way, in every institution that you need for progress and, what we call, lack of sector governance. Whether it's in mining, in energy and energy is a big thing in developing countries, where there's big money to be made. And if you don't have proper sector governance, but people can make money, they can keep so many people in darkness, policies will be difficult to move forward. And so, I'm learning a lot and since I have been back, especially the last two years, I have been called to many, many more forums, and I do a webinar, Zoom call, maybe two or three a week, in some days four, because why? People call on me now, they say: Kandeh, you now have an experience which some of us can only talk about. You are deep in lawmaking and deep in politics, real political, and how politics influences everything. And so I am on an IMF, World Bank, Parliamentary Forum on COVID. I am in the Climate Parliament. I am in the IRENA Legislators Forum. So I have continued my energy work, advisory roles. I'm on the board of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a number of initiatives with the EU. But now I even believe my advocacy is sharper because now I'm sitting in a developing country.

ML

Let me ask you a question on that. Because what you said on corruption is very... is particularly interesting, because it never gets talked about explicitly. I have never been at a World Bank event, at a World Economic Forum event, at a Clinton Global Initiative event, at a Bloomberg New Energy Finance event. None of these forums, will they actually say, right? We're having a session on corruption. What does it do? What are the impacts? How can you get past it? Who's done well, who's doing badly? It's like: nope, let's not talk about it.

 

KY

Because people are sensitive about it. And if an outsider talks about it, it means the outside that is being patronising and insulting. And I have had the opportunity, especially when, of course, throughout the campaign, but now in the past two years, I've been invited to some events, in Zimbabwe, in Nigeria, in South Africa and other places, where people are just shocked that: wait a minute, he's brought up the 'C word', and he's talking about it. And I can do it because I

<inaudible> I am now in politics. I have seen it inside out. I'm also from a developed... from the developing world, I've been around, I've been to countries that are performing well. And those that are not performing well. And when I talk about corruption, I'm not talking about theory. I'm talking about it from countries that are failing, and countries that have been successful.

Developing countries that have made a real commitment to probity, and because they want real big investments to come in. And so, I feel comfortable talking about this. And I believe that in the next few years, I'll be doing more of that. Because I know for sure, I knew it in the UN. There are studies by UNDP and others about the impact, World Bank, about the impact of corruption on public policy, on investments, and so on. Now, those studies are there, but I can talk about it as an insight.

 

ML

And, can I ask you? We're gonna draw to a close. Unfortunately, we're... we've run out of time, but it's been so fascinating. I thank you for your time. But just a final question if I might. So you've got all these international forums now, that you've got even more credibility than before? I mean, you had a lot of credibility and... in... you know, when I was working with you up till 2015. But, will you be going for president again? I mean, there must be another cycle in presumably 2023.

 

KY

Yeah, let us put it this way. I'll cross that bridge when I get there. All options on the table. But my pet projects right now is setting up the Energy Nexus Network, I have registered it as a formal centre, knowledge hub to bring in, called people like you, and others using digital technology for capacity building, for, to be advised, to be an advisory service to development agencies. And so that one I have set up, I'm trying to raise money for it. And that, for me is my

ultimate dream to have a knowledge hub in the middle of, about, four or five very poor countries, where we can make a difference. And we are receiving help now from some friends. We have also received our first offer as a partner, but I'm on several advisory efforts. That's one. The second one is we built a new coalition on clean cooking. Thanks to you and many people electrification is moving on very well. For the first time. Maybe if you look at the World Bank numbers, we are below, less than a billion people without electrification. Michael, we have not made any difference in three decades on clean cooking. In fact, the numbers have gone up

2.8 billion people without clean cooking. So what has happened, UN, some other friends have called me in, they say: 'Kandeh, we need you to do for clean cooking, what you and many people did over a decade for electrification and energy access. So last September, in New York with the World Bank, I moderated the session to launch a fund for $500 million to leverage 2 billion in clean cooking investments. Again, we're talking the lack of the right language. In the past, we treated clean cooking as a charity case, or throw 2 million at it. No. So we've come full circle, to say we treated the same way we treated electrification, whether by renewables or any other source. It's about investments, which means public policy, regulation, and enabling environment for investments, technology deployment, capacity building, and finance. So we're doing the same with clean cooking, and we're setting up, we've created a new initiative hosted by WHO, called the Health Energy Platform. We're setting up a coalition of leaders because even developing countries do not prioritise it. Some of it, they see it as a woman's issue. Or of course, the forests are disappearing very fast. The cities are demanding charcoal and I give you some numbers: 2.8 billion people without clean cooking solutions, and all the projections from International Energy Agency and others, they show that Africa will fare worse over, over the years. India also still has about 600 million people without clean cooking solutions, but they're making a difference with LPG and other solutions. Second, forests are disappearing fast. The black carbon from bushfires and charcoal causing greater melting of icecaps, then even greenhouse gases. So and then, of course, the health issue over 4 million premature deaths every year, it is worse than HIV, AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. And I call it a silent tsunami. 80% of those fatalities are women and children. And I told you, I'm in ground zero, in Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, no food processing takes place without heat. And it is the women who farm come back and do the processing along the value chain. And they're inhaling these fuels, killing them 24/7.

 

ML

Kandeh, I remember 2016, there was the Africa Utility Forum, they gave you a lifetime achievement award. And you gave a keynote. And you got up. And you gave this amazing speech about how this, and that, and the other, and it was all unacceptable?

 

KY

Yes.

 

ML

And it made me brave. Because I've echoed, I've channelled your outrage at some of these statistics and some of these ongoing blights on human health. I've tried to do my best to represent, you know, to channel you and also although I come from the other end of the world. I'm sitting here in a lovely place in London, to say that, this ongoing problem - clean cooking, lack of electrification, it is unacceptable, it continues today. So I learned at your knee, I learned from you, I've learned an enormous amount, from my involvement in the precursors to Sustainable Energy for All, from the Year of Sustainable Energy for All, from the organisation, from you personally, and also from this session here tonight. So with that, I'd really like to thank you for everything that you've done for others. And also, for me in this space, and hopefully here this evening for our audience. Thank you very, very much, Kandeh.

 

KY

Thank you for having me. I'm very grateful. And we continue to collaborate because the job is not finished yet.

 

ML

Yes. And I will put the... I'll put the website for the Energy Nexus Network, into the notes for the YouTube channel and the podcasts. That anybody who's interested, you can see what a powerhouse of energy Kandeh is. And if you want to get involved, whether it's with a donation, or with... I know Kandeh, he'll accept whatever help you could possibly offer to him. And you'll be able to do that through the shownotes for this episode of 'Cleaning Up'. Kandeh, thank you very, very much.

 

KY

Thank you so much, very grateful.