ND Energy welcomes Rachel Kyte, a world-renowned advocate and expert in sustainable energy

Rachel Kyte

The Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy) will host its 2nd annual research symposium on Wed., March 20, with keynote speaker Rachel Kyte who leads the world-wide charge towards access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for all.

Kyte is the Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, Co-Chair of UN-Energy, and Professor of the Practice of Sustainable Development in The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She is a leading advocate for sustainable development and drives SEforALL’s work to mobilize action toward its 2030 goals on universal energy access, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. As the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, she is the United Nations point person for the global goal of sustainable energy (SDG7). Prior to 2015, Kyte served as World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading integration of climate across the Bank Group’s work, as well as support for an ambitious agreement at the 21st Convention of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 21). She was previously World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development and was the International Finance Corporation Vice President for Business Advisory Services.

Kyte’s keynote address entitled “Cooling, Cooking, Moving and Manufacturing: The Challenges and Opportunities in Limiting Warming to 1.5 Degrees and Ensuring Everyone has Access to Sustainable Energy” will address the urgency for decarbonizing energy systems that work for all, especially the 1 billion people without access to electricity, the 3 billion people unable to cook cleanly, and the billions more suffering from unreliable energy. This urgent call for change requires the development of new technologies, business models, and systems approaches despite any bias, inertia, weak institutions, and political leadership.

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In addition to Kyte, the symposium will feature other invited speakers who are also advocates of developing long-term global energy solutions. They are Luciano Castillo, Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy and Power Systems in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, speaking on "Renewables as a Solution to Water for Energy (W4E) in Drought-prone Regions, and Access to Energy as Means to Achieve Social Equality for Developing Countries"; Jun Chen, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, addressing "Micro-hydropower for Powering Rural African Communities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Lessons”; Shelie Miller, Jonathan W. Bulkley Collegiate Professor of Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, speaking on “Understanding the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus”; and Vijay Modi, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University, addressing “The United Nations Millennium Development Goals and Beyond”.

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In addition to having outside speakers, the symposium will highlight Notre Dame’s research and program initiatives that support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG7. Speakers include Peter C. Burns, Director of ND Energy, Director of Actinide Center of Excellence, and Massman Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences; Abigail Mechtenberg, International Sustainable Development Researcher of ND Energy and Assistant Teaching Professor of Physics; Tom Purekal, Program Director of Applied Innovation of Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD), and Patrick Regan, Associate Director of Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI) and Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN), and Professor of Political Science.  

“This is a unique opportunity to hear from some of the most influential advocates and world renowned experts in sustainable energy,” exclaimed Peter Burns, ND Energy director who met Kyte at the 2018 SEforALL Forum in Portugal, where he extended the invitation for her to visit Notre Dame. “We are delighted to have Rachel Kyte and the other speakers join us for a day of learning and exploring additional ways we can accelerate our efforts and ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all.”The primary focus of the symposium is to understand the global energy needs and explore the various possibilities and ways to ensure we all have access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy. The symposium is open to the Notre Dame community and other invited guests who have expressed interest in collaborating with the University on sustainable energy research and education programs.

“The learning doesn’t stop there,” Burns announced. “We have invited the entire Notre Dame community and general public to an event in the evening, so they too can learn from Ms. Kyte and experience her inspirational and exuberant message in support of all humankind.”

“An Evening with Rachel Kyte” will start promptly at 7:00 p.m. in the McKenna Hall Auditorium. Hosted by ND Energy in partnership with the “With a Side of Knowledge” podcast, Ted Fox, executive administrator in the Office of the Provost at the University of Notre Dame, and host of the podcast, will lead a one-hour conversation with Kyte, who will share her perspectives on what it's like to lead an international organization, working with leaders in government, the private sector, and civil society, to achieve universal access to sustainable energy by 2030, and more. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

For questions or more information regarding the symposium and public event, contact Barbara Villarosa, Business and Communications Program Director with ND Energy, at 574-631-4776 or bvillaro@nd.edu.


ND Energy is a University Research Center whose mission is to build a better world by creating new energy technologies and systems and educating individuals to help solve the most critical energy challenges facing our world today. For more information, visit the ND Energy website at energy.nd.edu.