Kandeh Yumkella is the inspirational leader of the UN’s Sustainable Energy 4 All campaign. On Thursday last week, he gave the keynote speech to the 2015 Ashden Awards.

SUSTAINABLE. ENERGY. FOR. ALL. This is perhaps the single most important challenge of all the different sustainable development challenges we face today. Without energy, life can be short, miserable and dangerous. And what’s true for one has to be true for all: access to energy that doesn’t kill you, impoverish you and leave your needs unmet is a universal right.

Which just leaves sustainable. By which Ashden means clean, efficient, ultra-low carbon and fair.

And this is a cause that Kandeh Yumkella articulates so eloquently, not least because he’s an angry man. As he told us on a number of occasions! And he’s angry (or, rather, ANGRY) because of the neglect and indifference shown by politicians in both the rich world and the poor world (but predominantly in the rich world!). Historically, even the UN has been largely absent in this critical arena, with not even a mention of sustainable energy in the former Millennium Development Goals.

This has now been put right through a new goal in the emerging Sustainable Development Goals: ‘access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, modern energy services for all’.

And this year’s Ashden Award winners, as ever, provided wonderfully inspiring examples of the multiple benefits that arise as soon as access to such energy services is provided.

The Gold Award for the UK went to a firm of environmental engineers called Max Fordham, which for the last few decades has focussed on ‘sustainable building services’ – what makes buildings work really well (for people) and super-efficiently (for the planet and the balance sheet!)

The International Gold Award went to an NGO called SteamaCo that installs micro-grids to help villages in rural communities in Africa to make the most out of their renewable energy. As the blurb says: ‘SteamaCo uses an innovative cloud-based remote metering and payment system that monitors energy use, lets people pay for power using their mobile phones, and quickly troubleshoots any problems.’

Both of them brilliant winners. But my absolute favourite this year was a Mexican NGO called EcoCasa – building affordable, super-efficient, low-carbon social housing by providing low-interest loans to building developers to enable them to get the houses built.

I guess we should all be ANGRY that solutions of this kind still reach far too few people in the world today. As Kandeh Yumkella said, we all have an obligation to ‘help make energy poverty history.’