<i>By Emma Wilson, IIED</i>

This year sees the launch of the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon creating a high-level group to mobilize action. We support the goals of this initiative but – like other observers – we feel it requires more ambition and focus. Key priorities should be reducing poverty through access to modern energy services, and ensuring equitable access to electricity and consumption of energy resources (such as gas, oil and biomass).

The Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (abbreviated to SE4ALL) has set three goals to be attained by 2030:
  1. ensuring universal access to modern energy services;
  2. doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency;
  3. and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Access to affordable modern energy services – the ‘missing’ Millennium Development Goal (MDG) – is essential for sustainable development and achieving the MDGs themselves. Electricity access underpins health, education and livelihoods. Modernising cooking fuel usage – through greater fuelwood efficiency or substitution – can improve health and reduce time spent gathering firewood, especially for children and women, allowing them to pursue education and enterprise opportunities and enjoy more leisure time.

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