Overcoming barriers to achieve universal energy access by 2030

The inaugural United Nations global seminar on supporting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 to ensure universal energy access by 2030, opened in Bangkok on 21 June with experts underlining that despite worldwide efforts, much remains to be achieved for the most isolated and disadvantaged communities, where energy poverty continues exasperating the cycle of extreme poverty.

At the opening session, Mr. Kaveh Zahedi, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) highlighted that whilst extraordinary development gains have been made over the past few decades, energy access remains a major challenge in Asia-Pacific, where 455 million people are living without access to electricity and 2.06 billion rely on solid fuels for cooking and heating.

“When it comes to universal access to modern clean energy, leaving no one behind is an especially difficult challenge for the countries of our region,” stressed Mr. Zahedi. “But addressing energy accessibility – especially through solar home systems, clean cook stoves, mini and micro grids – is the fastest way to get energy to the poorest and most hard to reach providing multi-dimensional benefits in terms of income generation, education, gender equality, livelihood enhancement and environmental sustainability,” he added.

The Seminar, held from 21 to 23 June 2016 is being jointly organized by ESCAP, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development and (UNOSD), in cooperation with UN-Energy and Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL).

Over the next three days, policymakers, practitioners and experts will develop coherent recommendations on policy frameworks, institutional capacities, technical issues, business models, access to financing and the integration of energy into national development strategies.

In his opening address, Mr. Jong-Soo Yoon, Director of UNOSD said: “Although efforts are being made to address the issue of universal energy access and its linkages with other sustainable development factors and sectors, many challenges and barriers remain that need to be assessed and overcome.”

Mr. Ivan Vera, UN Energy-Secretary, UNDESA added: “This Seminar represents a first of a series of events being organized by the UN to provide a platform for all stakeholders for discussion and analysis of the most critical issues affecting progress in the core targets of the Sustainable Development Goal on energy of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The Seminar will culminate in an outcome document with recommendations to help address gaps and accelerate implementation of SDG 7. The outcome document will represent an input to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) to be held in New York from 11 to 20 July 2016. The HLPF is the United Nation’s central platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDGs.

Photo credit: UN ESCAP, 2016


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