Making the World a More Sustainable Place

The CEO of Sustainable Energy for All aims to make energy accessible across the globe.


ACCORDING TO RACHEL Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, energy is the foremost issue that must be tackled before progress can be made in other areas such as health care and education. Kyte spoke about Sustainable Energy for All’s mission at the 2019 World Economic Forum.


Kyte previously served as World Bank Group vice president and special envoy for climate change, leading integration of climate across World Bank Group’s work. Before that, she was vice president for sustainable development at the World Bank. Kyte’s current positions as CEO of Sustainable Energy for All and special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All allow her to advocate for and mobilize action towards the global goal of sustainable development.


Sustainable Energy for All can be traced back to a question asked by then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2010: “Why are we not all working on energy, and what are the big energy issues?” Even before the landmark Paris Agreement, Sustainable Energy for All had committed itself to ensuring universal access to energy, improving the energy efficiency rate and doubling the share of renewable energy around the world.


Sustainable Energy for All works on both a micro and macro level, helping people gain access to energy in an affordable fashion and facilitating the adoption of cleaner energy practices by more powerful actors with energy-intensive operations. “[Sustainable Energy for All] is born of the idea that we can decarbonize the energy mix and provide energy to everyone affordably and reliably, and that those two things are not in competition,” Kyte said.

As the leader of a global organization, Kyte leads by listening to and understanding the unique voices of those she seeks to help before taking action. That being said, she has witnessed a “universality” of the need for sustainable energy infrastructure. Regardless of different cultures and languages, “a reliable, affordable energy system” is key to helping people address other priorities like jobs or health care.

Everyday citizens might view sustainable energy as too complex or intimidating of a challenge to tackle on their own, but Kyte believes there is power in the choices made on a daily basis, no matter how seemingly insignificant. “Just one action by you, multiplied by millions, is a shift,” Kyte said.