Towards Sustainable Energy For All By 2030

Access to modern energy for all is included as a development goal for 2030.
Published: Thu 27 Aug 2015

After a more than two-year process a draft post-2015 development agenda has been agreed with 17 sustainable development goals – including one on energy – for 2030.

The concept of development goals gained momentum during the 1990s with the new millennium approaching and resulted in the Millennium Development Goals, which were established following the now historical Millennium Summit in 2000 that was held to discuss the role of the United Nations in this new era.

The eight goals, set for 2015, were focused primarily on poverty alleviation and health but the outcome has been mixed, with some countries achieving several of them but others none of them.

At the time there was widespread criticism of the objectives for a variety of reasons, including lack of justification for the chosen objectives. An obvious gap was the absence of a goal on energy, as fundamental for development, which has undoubtedly set back the delivery of energy services to the many people – currently around 1.1 billion, primarily in developing countries – without such access. In order to fill this gap, the Sustainable Energy For All (SE4All) initiative was established in 2010 with the primary goal of achieving universal access by 2030. SE4All has attracted widespread interest and support and has gathered significant momentum, but greatly increased investment is required for its goals to be met. [Engerati-Sustainable Energy For All Requires $1trn Annually]

Sustainable energy for all

Goal 7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is: “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” The three primary targets essentially mirror those of SE4All, i.e. to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services, to increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix (SE4All’s goal is a doubling), and to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency. Underlying these it is proposed to:

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

• Expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing states, and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support.

For many of the goals, baseline data and target numbers need to be put in place but much of this has already been done under SE4All for the energy goal. Nevertheless, further work is required particularly around the financing as well as the implementation and tracking of progress of energy initiatives.

Renewable energies increasingly will be at the heart of electrification initiatives, whether as part of mini- or microgrids or as standalone systems, and are at a state of development that will enable them to do so. Many new market opportunities with new business models can be expected to arise for companies and entrepreneurs, albeit in many cases in challenging environments. [see e.g. Engerati-Finding a Sustainable Solution for Electrification in Africa]

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be adopted by world leaders at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York in September. The inclusion of the SE4All goals as a Sustainable Development Goal should give further impetus towards achievement of objectives which could have a profound effect not only on human and economic development globally but on the broader energy sector.

Further reading

UN: Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development