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   Sustainable Development Topics

  Energy for Sustainable Development

Energy is central to achieving sustainable development goals.  Some two billion people have no access to modern energy services. The challenge lies in finding ways to reconcile this necessity and demand for energy with its impact on the natural resource base in order to ensure that sustainable  development goals are realized.

The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) fourteenth session in 2006 and fifteenth session in 2007 focused on a cluster of thematic issues, which included Energy for Sustainable Development; Industrial Development; Air pollution/ Atmosphere; and Climate Change.

The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI), adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, addresses energy in the context of sustainable development. Among other things, the JPOI calls for action to:

  • Improve access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services - para. 9(a)

  • Recognize that energy services have positive impacts on poverty eradication and the improvement of standards of living - para. 9 (g)

  • Develop and disseminate alternative energy technologies with the aim of giving a greater share of of the energy mix to renewable energy and, with a sense of urgency, substantially increase the global share of renewable energy sources - para. 20(c)

  • Diversify energy supply by developing advanced, cleaner, more efficient and cost-effective energy technologies - para 20(e)

  • Combine a range of energy technologies, including advanced and cleaner fossil fuel technologies, to meet the growing need for energy services - para. 20(d)

  • Accelerate the development, dissemination and deployment of affordable and cleaner energy efficiency and energy conservation technologies - para. 20(i)

  • Take action, where appropriate, to phase out subsidies in this area that inhibit sustainable development - para. 20(p)

Energy was one of the major themes of the ninth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-9), held in 2001. Countries agreed at CSD-9  that stronger emphasis should be placed on the development, implementation, and transfer of cleaner, more efficient technologies and that urgent action is required to further develop and expand the role of alternative energy sources. For CSD-9 decisions on energy click here.

This complex challenge of energy and sustainable development was highlighted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Energy is discussed throughout Agenda 21.   Agenda 21 highlights the fact that current levels of energy consumption and production are not sustainable, especially if demand continues to increase and stresses the importance of using energy resources in a way that is consistent with the aims of protecting human health, the atmosphere, and the natural environment. 

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February 2008