Expert voices Vol 22, No. 05 - May 2018

A new global agenda for action on sustainable energy

The world has reached a critical juncture. Either we immediately ramp up efforts to achieve sustainable energy for all, or risk falling short on all the other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A new publication supported by UN DESA not only calls for more ambition – it offers practical ways of achieving universal energy access by 2030.

The publication, “Accelerating SDG 7 achievement: Policy briefs in support of the first SDG 7 review at the UN High-Level Political Forum 2018,” includes 27 policy briefs by 50 global energy authorities from within and without the UN System. It proposes a Global Agenda for Accelerated SDG 7 Action, with recommendations and best options for countries to achieve universal energy access in the next 12 years.

“Energy is one of the best enablers for sustainable development,” says Minoru Takada who leads UN DESA’s work on sustainable energy. “It empowers people, brings business opportunities, creates jobs and is the key answer to the challenge of climate change.”

“These Policy Briefs are unique because they are the product of 50 globally renowned organizations. They represent a well-worked-out consensus on where we are and what needs to be done in the future,” Mr. Takada added.

In addition to speeding up progress on sustainable energy, the briefs aim to maximize energy’s positive impact on all the other SDGs. Sheila Oparaocha, Executive Director of ENERGIA – the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy – explained how energy can lead to healthier, more empowered lives for women.

“Women are the most affected by lack of energy, because they are the poorest in our societies and communities,” Ms. Oparaocha said. “Toxic fumes from cooking on rudimentary forms of energy, affect their health. Of the 4.3 million people who die prematurely because of lack of access to energy, 80 per cent are women and girls. We are not going to achieve SDG 7 unless we address the gender inequality issues.”

Dr. Maria Nera of the World Health Organization also stressed the health hazards of poor energy access. She said that more investments in sustainable energy would bring benefits on issues “from gender to health, to education and for a more sustainable future and economy.”

“If you don’t have access to energy, there is no way to have even a simple refrigerator to keep a vaccine,” she said. “If you don’t have electricity, you will not be able to study, you will not be able to receive a treatment and, most of all, you will have a very polluted air.”

Hans Olav Ibrekk of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry offered his key recommendations for achieving sustainable energy for all and increasing the impact of energy on other goals.

“We need political leadership. Our political leaders need to give priority to energy and that has to be reflected in budgets. We need to work together with all stakeholders. We need to mobilize the private sector because it will have to provide the bulk of finance.”

For more information and to download the report: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?page=view&nr=2749&type=13&menu=1634

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