Push to include access to energy in UN development goals

Speakers at a consultative meeting in Delhi call for finding sustainable and affordable technological solutions for making energy accessible to all in developing countries

By Ankur Paliwal
Published: Saturday 02 February 2013

To push for the inclusion of energy access as one of the goals in the next Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), financial institutions and non-governmental organisations held a consultation on the sidelines of the ongoing Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) in New Delhi. The current MDGs are expiring in 2015 and will be renamed as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Energy access is not a part of the current MDGs. The three day DSDS ends today.

This was the first meeting to gather support for including energy access in SDGs. The consultation on the theme 'Post 2015 Development Agenda and the Energy Future We Want For All’ was facilitated by the United Nations (UN). “We will continue these deliberations in the coming months with NGOs and development agencies across the world to gather enough voices before the final meeting in Oslo in April to have our declaration ready,” said Minoru Takada, senior policy advisor in energy to the secretary general of UN. 

The declaration will then be presented to UN in September this year for countries to debate. “It is an important agenda because the last time energy access was taken off the list of MDGs,” said Jyoti Shukla, senior manager (sustainable development) with the World Bank. “It was the nexus of developed countries like the US with oil industry, and growing economies including India and China which opposed inclusion of energy access in MDGs. They said that market forces will take care of it. They are still reluctant,” said a panelist who requested anonymity. That is why it is crucial to build a strong case for inclusion of energy access when goals are set for SDGs post 2015,” he added.

Speakers at the session stressed on the need for finding sustainable technological and affordable solutions to make energy access a success story in developing countries. “The problem with renewable technologies is its high cost and that it is not available on demand in rural areas,” said Shukla. It is still a challenge to put up a small power plant in a village and make it economically sustainable, said Kirit S Parikh, chairperson of Expert Group on Low Carbon Strategies for Inclusive Growth, Planning Commission.  Besides advocating the need for finding affordable clean energy solutions for off-grid areas, Parikh also stressed on having clean cooking gas as one of the solutions for energy access. “Elimination of indoor pollution from fuel wood burning for cooking by 2020 could be an important SDG,” said Parikh.

Panelists also underlined the need of redefining energy access. “It needs to be looked at holistically.  It is not just about lighting homes. It is interlinked with water and agriculture sustainability,” said R K Pachauri, director general, of Delhi based non-profit The Energy and Resources Institute.  We need to build a convincing case and join hands so that energy access does not fall off the SDGs agenda this time, he added. 


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