SE4All Forum: current efforts are not enough

The 3rd Sustainable Energy for All (SEforAll) Forum took place in New York City, US, from April 3-5, 2017. The event was organized by the SEforAll, the UN initiative aimed at promoting actions toward universal, modern and sustainable energy access, and was an opportunity to launch and discuss partnerships and ideas, as well as to spur investment toward sustainable energy and realize Sustainable Development Goal 7.

The debate was organized in over 60 sessions focused around the urgency and action needed to get the world on track to achieve the SDG7, with Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, Rachel Kyte, opening the works by reminding that “business as usual is not good enough. We need speed and scale.”

During the event, the results of the annual Global Tracking Framework report were unveiled, providing advancements toward the achievement of the three SEforAll objectives in 2030: universal access to energy, doubling both the rate of progress on energy efficiency, and the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

The report shows that current efforts are not moving fast enough to meet 2030 targets and that the rate of people getting access to electricity is beginning to slow down.

Speed of progress toward electrification goal 2012–14

Speed of progress toward electrification goal 2012–14

Among the initiatives recently emerged to create momentum, improve knowledge and promote political support on the issue, SEforALL and the World Bank launched a global policy scorecard called RISE: Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy. RISE’s objective is to understand whether world policymakers are really rising to the challenge posed by the new global sustainable energy agenda and where further action is most needed. To answer these questions they scored 111 countries using 27 indicators that assess the existence and the quality of countries’ policy and regulatory support for each of the three goals of the SEforAll initiative. They overall found that almost 80% of the countries analyzed have begun to implement some kind of supportive policies, 45 of which are already at a reasonably advanced stage. Predictably, among countries that show major progress are high-income countries, but also emerging economies such as Mexico, China, Vietnam, Chile, Malaysia, Thailand, Tunisia, Brazil, Egypt, India, Colombia, South Africa, Algeria and Morocco.

Among the countries where further efforts are urgently needed, Sub-Saharan Africa emerges clearly as one of the least developed policy environments to support energy access. Despite some good performances in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, three of the countries with the largest energy poverty problems – with access rates below 20% and a total unserved population of 116 million people – countries of particular concern include: Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Sudan. Conversely, South Asia, with India and Bangladesh at the forefront, is emerging as a leader in the access agenda with an innovative mix of grid and off-grid solutions. This is not happening in around 60% of the countries struggling to provide universal access to energy, which still have the lowest levels of grid-based electrification.

This post is an updated excerpt of the article that appeared on ICCG’s International Climate Policy Magazine n. 45. Check it out for further details.

(Top image: Renewable energy in Algeria. Credit: Magharebia via Flickr)