Global progress on affordable and clean energy must be accelerated: Report 

Global progress on affordable and clean energy must be accelerated: Report 

M Mushfiqul Fazal from New York

Governments, businesses and civil society organizations have made tremendous strides in bringing affordable and clean energy to more people in recent years, but this progress has been largely uneven and must be accelerated in order to leave no one behind, says a new collection of policy briefs compiled by the multi-stakeholder SDG 7 Technical Advisory Group (SDG7-TAG) and convened by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The report suggested that urgent reinforced action and more investment, particularly in least developed countries and is needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 on energy by 2030.

Advancement on SDG 7 has the potential to spur progress across the SDGs on poverty eradication, gender equality, climate change mitigation and adaptation, food security, health, education, sustainable cities and communities, clean water and sanitation, jobs, innovation, transport, and refugees and other situations of displacement.

The briefs in the compilation, “Accelerating SDG 7 Achievement: SDG 7 Policy Briefs in Support of the High-level Political Forum 2019,” focus on the links between SDG 7 and the SDGs under review at the upcoming High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July: SDG 4 on quality education, SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth, SDG 10 on reduced inequalities, SDG 13 on climate action, SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, and SDG 17 on partnerships.

This stock-taking report is being issued at the midpoint of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024 with the aim of also informing a series of intergovernmental discussions this year, including the SDG Summit, Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, Mid-term Review of the Samoa Pathway and Mid-term Review on the Implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries.

Closing the energy access gap to benefit the remaining unserved people will be challenging. Maintaining and extending the pace of progress will require strong political commitment, long-term energy planning, stepped-up private financing, and adequate policy and fiscal incentives.

“There is still much to do to ensure universal access,” said Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. “Despite increases in electrification over the last 2 years, about 840 million people still lack access to electricity.

Meanwhile, around 3 billion people rely on wood, charcoal, animal and crop wastes, or other solid fuels to cook their food and heat their homes, and the rate of progress towards cleaner fuels and technologies in fact slowed down between 2009 and 2017.”

Sheila Oparaocha, Executive Director of the ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy and co-facilitator of the SDG 7 Technical Advisory Group, said: “We have been witnessing tremendous progress in the adoption of renewable technologies, along with rapid cost declines and strategic shifts in policies that are transforming energy systems in many parts of the world.

Though we have strong momentum, we must continue to mobilize greater political will and cooperation, as well as higher levels of public and private investments in a sustainable energy future.”

Hans Olav Ibrekk, Policy Director, Section for Energy and Climate Change at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and co-facilitator of the SDG 7 Technical Advisory Group, added: “We are proud to present the second edition of the policy briefs to inform this year’s critically important gatherings: the Mid-point Conference on the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All in May, the High-Level Political Forum in July, and the SDG Summit and Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in September.

We sincerely hope that Member States and all stakeholders—including the international organizations, multilateral development banks, businesses and civil society groups—will find the analysis and recommendations useful as they review and renew their commitments to achievement of the SDGs.”

Furthermore, SDG 7 will be discussed at UN Headquarters on 23-24 May at a High-level Dialogue on the implementation of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024: A Mid-point Review.

Experts from all sectors, including governments, the energy sector, civil society and the UN system will discuss major issues and demonstrate action related to the implementation of the Decade, with a focus on the links between SDG 7 and the other SDGs. On Thursday there will be a series of roundtables about energy issues like clean cooking, transportation and climate change, and a high-level briefing and interactive dialogue will take place on Friday.