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Poverty and Environment Concerns Spur Efforts to Explore Energy Options

21 January 2002- The need to provide modern, environmentally sound energy services to more people living in poverty is the focus of discussions that will take place in New Delhi from 21-23 January.

Many of the 1.5 billion people who lack access to safe drinking water are the same people who lack access to electricity and modern energy services. People living in poverty rely on energy that is often produced by inefficiently burning biomass or wood, which leads to further environmental degradation as well as respiratory health problems. A key challenge for sustainable development and to secure a better future for those currently living in poverty is to provide access to commercially viable energy services.

The New Delhi meeting will involve representatives from government, business and industry, civil society, as well as from United Nations agencies, programmes, and regional commissions. It is sponsored by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and organized by the Tata Energy Research Institute.

According to JoAnne DiSano, Director of the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development, it generally accepted now that access to energy is a key component to any programme that attempts to reduce poverty. "Access to clean energy is not just about global climate change or about cleaning up air pollution in major metropolitan areas. It's also about providing people with an essential tool that will allow them to work their way out of poverty without harming their environment."

The basic themes of the meeting will revolve around energy, energy equity, the integration of social, economic and environmental dimensions, as well as finding the means to mobilize resources. Among the questions that the meeting will consider are issues of subsidies, whether energy services can be bundled with other key infrastructure services such as water, how to link energy services with income and job generation programmes, and mechanisms for utilizing renewable energy technologies.

According to the conference organizers, the outcome of the meeting could serve as a key input into the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg in August 2002.

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24 August 2006