SDG 7 – Ensure Access to Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable and Modern Energy for All

Opening the Sustainable Development Goal 7 sitting at the September Summit, United Nations Deputy Secretary General Mr. Jan Eliasson spoke of this as the first time the UN agreed on a universal goal.

The SDG 7 aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, and Mr. Jan Eliasson insisted on how positive the international body is in ending energy struggles in developing nations before the end of the decade.

He also noted that progress was too slow in some regions, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, but expressed his belief in the foundations already laid and the leaders charged with the responsibility to spearhead implementation of this goal. The UN Deputy Secretary General believes that agreeing on a universal course on energy through SDG 7 is great news not only to the energy community, but also to the whole Sustainable Development agenda, as sustainable energy is needed in the implementation of almost all the other goals in the agenda, from eradicating poverty to fighting climate change.

He however cautioned that achieving this goal will not be a walk in the park, and that “arduous work” and full international cooperation will be needed if any progress at all is to be made.

Leaders at the global summit discussed the subject and agreed that the following targets be met by 2030:

1. Ensure that each and every person in the world can access reliable, affordable, and modern energy services.

It was noted that the most affected region was Sub-Saharan Africa and the UN pledged to give the region higher priority during allocation of SDG 7 resources.

2. Increase the proportion of renewable energy in the overall global energy mix.

As the UN partners with energy corporations all across the world to construct hydroelectric power projects and install solar facilities in developing countries, the aim is to completely replace the use of non-renewable sources of energy, such wood, coal and charcoal, with renewable alternatives by 2020.

3. Double the global rate of energy efficiency improvement.

Access to Renewable Energy over the World

With a good number of people all over the world now having access to electricity and other forms of renewable energy thanks to a remarkable increase in energy production over the last two decades, the UN wants to double this rate before 2020, which will basically mean that almost everyone will have access to electricity by 2030.

The plan, as laid in Sustainable Development Goal 7, is to increase the number of power projects and solar plants across the globe, halving installation fees for home owners who wish to have their homes supplied with electricity, and increasing the general affordability of energy from these plants and projects.

4. Enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including cleaner and advanced fossil-fuel technology, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and promote investment in clean energy technology and energy infrastructure.

5. Expand infrastructure and improve technology for supplying sustainable energy for everyone in developing countries, particularly the least developed ones, landlocked developing countries, and Small Island developing states, with respect to their respective support programmes.

Energy is Key to Growth and Sustainability

Energy is in the centre of almost every global opportunity and challenge the world faces today. It is becoming a basic need, just like water, food, clothing, health care and education. Unfortunately, not everyone is enjoying the benefits of this all-important innovation as one in five people worldwide still lacks access to modern electricity while 3 billion, some of whom have electricity connection in their homes, still rely on animal waste, charcoal, coal and wood for heating and cooking.

The UN has been trying to eliminate the use of non-renewable sources of energy over the past few decades, and to its respite, global production of electricity from renewable sources is expected to increase by over 60 percent between 2011 and 2017, when it will hit 6400 terawatt hours (TWh) per year. According to a report published by REN21 international network, renewable sources, including hydropower and solar energy, now make for 19% of final energy use globally. The 2013 World Energy Outlook estimated that the proportion will have increased by 11 percent by 2035.

The proportion of the number of homes supplied with electricity connection has quite gone up over the past few years, but it would be a remarkable progress only if some developing countries in Asia and Africa were not left out. According to a 2012 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), only 24% of the Sub-Saharan Africa population had access to electricity, with the total energy production in these region per year equaling that of Argentina alone.

Partnerships with Major Energy Corporations

According to Eliasson, the UN is partnering with big energy corporations in the world to try and bring to an end the energy situation in Sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of Asia. The FAO, the UN Foundation, Novozymes, KLM, Carbon War Room, Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biometrics have already partnered to enhance the deployment and development of sustainable bioenergy solutions.

In Mozambique, Mali, Bangladesh and India, the OPEC Fund for International Development and the Alliance for Rural Electrification are working together to execute mini-grid projects. Mr. Eliasson commended these efforts as well as domestic initiatives such as the Light for All programme in Brazil, the planned $100 million dollar solar energy investment in Saudi Arabia and India’s commitment to energy for all before 2020.

Final Note

Invention of electricity is one of man’s greatest ever achievements. It touches on every aspect of life, from health to transport, communication, security and food production. Operation equipment in theatres, huge machines in factories, computers in offices, home appliances such as fridges and microwaves, telephones, TVs and even trains, all run on electricity. Darkness is becoming a matter of choice and human activities are running even in the middle of the night, level and quality of commodity and service production is increasing, economies are tremendously growing as a consequence, and still, scientists are busy trying to come up with more and more new uses of energy.

Availability and affordability of this all-important resource has not been a problem to most developed and some developing countries in the world lately, but the issue is still an international concern because of its impact on other aspects of global development. As explained by Eliasson, the implementation of almost every other goal on the 2030 agenda depends on how fast and well Sustainable Development Goal 7 is worked on, and that’s why the UN wants to ensure that all developing nations, especially in the Sub-Saharan region, have extensive power networks prior to the commencement of the implementation of the rest of the SDGs.

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