Ban Ki-moon hosts Kandeh Yumkella at a farewell luncheon

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Sustainable Energy for All [Farewell Call]

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 August 2015

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Sustainable Energy for All [Farewell Call]
Photo: UN Secretary-General and Mrs Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with Mr. and Mrs. Yumkella to say thank you and farewell.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and wife – Madam Yoo (Ban) Soon-taek, last week hosted a farewell luncheon for Dr. and Mrs. Kandeh Yumkella in New York, to show their appreciation for his outstanding services to the United Nations.

Yumkella, whose tenure of office at the UN, ended two days ago – 31st July 2015, previously served two four-year terms as director-general of UNIDO, following which he served as United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and CEO of the initiative on Sustainable Energy for All.

Since Mr. Ban’s election as the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations, he had appointed Kandeh Yumkella to many positions in the UN system, including as Chairman of UN-Energy – the coordinating body of the United Nations agencies dealing with energy-related issues, a position he held until his last day at work.

As its chairman, Mr. Yumkella brought a renewed and vital focus to global energy issues and he helped to coordinate the United Nations’ response to energy issues.

From 2008-2010, Secretary Ban also appointed Kandeh to chair his Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC). In this position, Yumkella played a leading international role in identifying the lack of access to energy as a crucial constraint for development efforts.

The Group’s report, which was issued in April 2010, confirmed the need to increase energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy options in order to deal with the climate change challenge and realize the Millennium Development Goals.

In September 2011, the UN Secretary-General appointed Chad Holliday and Kandeh Yumkella as co-Chair of the High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All.

This followed a decision by the United Nations General Assembly to designate 2012 as the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All.

As co-Chair of this High-level Group, Kandeh Yumkella helped to guide the initiative, aimed at highlighting the need for universal access to energy as well as increased energy efficiency and enhanced deployment of renewable sources of energy.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Sustainable Energy for All [Farewell Call]
Photo: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Sustainable Energy for All to say farewell
Yumkella was also a member of the Rio+20 Principals Group, a group that played a crucial role in the preparations for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, and served as an active member of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), which helps to set and coordinate the global development priorities of the United Nations.

Even as many commend his distinguished two-decade service to the global community, they equally applaud his courage to leave the UN at the “height of such a very successful career.

Counting the cost of voting
Counting the cost of voting

“Our quest for a safe and prosperous Sierra Leone must now be my full-time vocation. Given our natural resources and our wealth, our people deserve a better future.

“As tough as it is, I hope to listen to our peoples’ concerns and help build a progressive coalition of Sierra Leoneans who believe that regardless of our tribes and regions, Sierra Leone must always come first,” Yumkella noted in his brief farewell message.

Reflecting on his experience over the past two decades, he emphasized that the UN-system has taught him many things, including institution building, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and the critical importance of public-private partnerships for the transition to a low carbon and inclusive global community.

These are all skills required to end poverty in developing countries and secure peace and stability in the world.

In the context of Sierra Leone, Kandeh noted: “The UN-system will be there to defend our quest for a more lasting democracy, rule of law, human rights and prosperity for the people of Sierra Leone.

“The UN invested a lot to restore peace and democracy after 11 years of a brutal civil war. It is imperative that the UN and the people of Sierra Leone defend the integrity and functionality of the democratic institutions created over the past decade to avoid a slippage into conflict.

“The current Ebola crisis has exposed the fragility of our governance institutions, and its long term consequences could wipe out most of our economic and social development gains.”

kandeh Yumkella in London1Dr. Yumkella is currently touring the USA, where he is taking his message of hope and transformational change for Sierra Leone.

He is also talking to Sierra Leoneans in America, about his vision for ending poverty in Sierra Leone, and also about how to bring decades of poor governance, corruption, and more importantly – the Ebola crisis to an end.

Dr. Yumkella will finally be departing for Sierra Leone at the end of August, to begin the huge task of firstly helping the government tackle what is now largely regarded as the residual stage of the Ebola scourge.

He will also start work in building his grand political coalition for transformational change in Sierra Leone, by holding discussions with key stakeholders of the SLPP and others outside of the party to explore common ground and put the building blocks for his coalition in place.

3 Comments

  1. Nonpartisan,

    The “Pandora box” that you just opened is what organizational theorists refer to as “Plato’s Cave”, which posits that organizations are often referred to as “Psychic Prisons”. This is the situation Sierra Leone has unfortunately found herself in, where the idea of what obtains in the “cave” as Socrates referred to it, in this case Sierra Leone is not reality, but an illumination of what has been sold to them.

    Dr. Kandeh Yumkella as former dweller of the cave (Sierra Leone) is returning with a better message and idea that what obtains in present day Sierra Leone is not reality, but a socially constructed, distorted and flawed view of reality, and that it can be changed for the better with hard work.

    He is saying that he will not be able to live in the old way, since for him; the world is a completely different place than what he left in Sierra Leone twenty years ago.

    Some people are naturally going to be uncomfortable with this message, as this is all they know. The good news however, is that with know-how, forthrightness, and engagement, people can be educated about these distorted social constructs and change can ensue, as it is inevitable.

  2. I doff my hat to Dr. Yumkella for his great achievement within the United Nations system, that culminated in the honor and respect paid to him during this ceremony by no less a person than the Secretary General Mr. Ban Kin Moon a real friend of Sierra Leone in particular, and Africa at large.

    I also humbly note the “opportunity cost” he is post to return to our beloved country Sierra Leone to offer his ideas and expertise in helping to solve some of the teething problems facing the country. It is indeed a very high cost this brother is paying to leave the United Nations scene, where he could have risen to the top job, the Secretary Generalship, had he wished to, but return to Sierra Leone, a country whose socio-political journey is at this moment to say the least, at crossroads.

    So the value of what Dr. Yumkella is leaving is to say the least gigantic. I therefore wish Dr. Yumkella all the best in his journey to help Sierra Leone, and some of us in the periphery here in the United States will do our best to help him succeed.

    While we are on opportunity cost, it will also help if as Dr. Yumkella has promised to build a grand coalition, to trade some of the international clout or international political capital or value ‘if you will’ he has accumulated over the last two decades for some local political capital within the SLPP and APC in the interest of national development.

    The learned professional should venture into every corner of Sierra Leone and horse trade, and he will be surprised at the level of goodwill Sierra Leoneans will respond with to his gestures.

    Good luck Dr. Yumkella

  3. It’s very interesting that as an international representative, Dr. Kandeh is Sierra Leone’s golden boy. These same people praising and publicizing his success at the UN are also saying he is now somehow incapable of leadership in Sierra Leone.

    It’s a very illogical argument. Leadership is a transferable skill. When you look at the habits of large corporations, they often bring in leadership from the outside.

    These companies understand that if you’re an effective leader in one environment, you can be effective in another.

    They also understand that once a system becomes dysfunctional, you can’t expect those who created the dysfunction to repair it. You have to bring in a specialist for this heavy duty repair work.

    Everyone should be very happy Dr. Kandeh has been away for 20+ years. He has not been a part of the nepotism, tribalism, regionalism, and corruption that has been destroying Sierra Leone.

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