Advisory Group Calls for Accelerated, Scaled Up Progress on SDG 7 to Close Energy Gap
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The policy briefs focus on links between SDG 7 and the SDGs under review at the 2019 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

The report finds that USD 1.3 trillion to 1.4 trillion per year is required to meet SDG 7, more than twice the current level.

Advancing on SDG 7 can drive progress on such issues as poverty eradication, gender equality, climate change, food security, health, education, sustainable cities and communities, clean water and sanitation, and jobs.

23 May 2019: The Multi-Stakeholder Technical Advisory Group on SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) (SDG7-TAG), convened by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), has released a series of policy briefs that call for accelerated action and more investment to achieve global energy targets.

The policy briefs, compiled in a report titled, ‘Accelerating SDG 7 Achievement: SDG 7 Policy Briefs in Support of the High-level Political Forum 2019,’ argue that advancing on SDG 7 can drive progress on such issues as poverty eradication, gender equality, climate change mitigation and adaptation, food security, health, education, sustainable cities and communities, clean water and sanitation, jobs, innovation, transport, and refugees and other displacement.

The policy briefs focus on links between SDG 7 and the SDGs that will be under review at the 2019 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) taking place in New York, US, from 9-18 July, namely SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals), which is reviewed annually.

The report comes at the midpoint of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024, and was launched during a mid-point review conducted at the High-Level Dialogue on the Implementation of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024, which convened from 23-24 May in New York. In addition, the report will inform, among others, the SDG Summit, the UN Climate Action Summit and the mid-term review of the Samoa Pathway.

The report includes a scene-setting policy brief on ‘Energy, Climate Change and Sustainable Development.’ A section on advancing SDG 7 implementation includes policy briefs on ‘A 4-Year Stock-Taking and Way Forward for SDG 7 with a Focus on Access, Renewables and Efficiency’ and financing SDG 7. A section on strengthening interlinkages focuses on links between SDG 7 and each of the SDGs under review by the 2019 HLPF. The report also includes regional perspectives on achieving SDG 7 in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Arab region, Latin America and the Caribbean, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region (Central Asia, Europe and North America), small island developing States (SIDS), and land-locked developing countries (LLDCs).

On sustainable and equitable energy future, the policy briefs discuss a multi-tier framework (MTF) for measuring energy access, and digitalization and future of energy systems. Six action briefs focus on multi-stakeholder actions to advance SDG 7: ‘Global Energy Interconnection’; ‘Global Energy and Health Platform of Action’; ‘Global Network on Energy and Jobs’; ‘Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement’; ‘Decentralized Renewable Energy for Access’; ‘Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Network’; and ‘Global Fuel Efficiency Initiative.’

According to the UN, despite increases in electrification over the last two years, about 840 million people still lack access to electricity, and three billion rely on wood, charcoal, animal and crop wastes or other solid fuels for cooking and heating. While renewables are well-established in the electricity sector, they lag behind for heat and transport use.

Rapid deployment of renewables, along with energy efficiency, can achieve most of the emission reductions and decarbonization needed by 2050.

The briefs cite challenges related to closing the energy access gap, and underscore that maintaining and extending the pace of progress will require political commitment, long-term energy planning, increased private financing, and policy and fiscal incentives.

The report stresses the importance of interlinkages between SDG 7 and SDG 13, in particular, noting that the sustainable energy transitions envisaged in the SDGs will contribute to reducing emissions, thereby also contributing to the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change. It underscores that rapid deployment of renewables, along with energy efficiency, can achieve most of the emission reductions and decarbonization needed by 2050, while advancing economic growth and development. It also calls for linking national-level renewable energy targets to adaptation strategies. The report highlights the first Climate and SDGs Synergies Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in April 2019, which was co-organized by DESA and the UNFCCC and will inform the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Climate Summit.

The policy briefs highlight “significant progress” in the adoption of renewable technologies, decreasing costs and strategic policy shifts that are transforming energy systems in many parts of the world. They call for mobilizing greater political will and cooperation, and increased public and private investment. The policy briefs also call for translating the Global Agenda for Accelerated SDG 7 Action, set forth in the 2018 edition of policy briefs, into concrete, time-bound action plans and partnerships.

The report’s main findings include: USD 1.3 trillion to 1.4 trillion per year is required to meet SDG 7, more than twice the current level; more than 230 million children attend primary schools without electricity, compromising educational and development outcomes; and employment in renewable energy, which totaled 10.3 million jobs in 2017, could reach 24 million by 2030.

Other key messages, including on interlinkages, underscore the need to, inter alia:

  • ensure increased access to clean cooking solutions through innovative strategies and increased funding;
  • promote grid and off-grid electricity access solutions (including solar lighting, solar home systems, and mini- grids), and clean cooking fuels and technologies;
  • reduce energy costs in humanitarian assistance;
  • invest in education infrastructure and services to close the electricity access gap in education and improve girl-to-boy ratios in schools;
  • achieve greater gender balance in job creation efforts, including through building enabling environments for women entrepreneurs;
  • address interlinkages between energy, climate change, poverty and inequality by promoting productive energy uses, while enhancing gender and health equity, addressing “fuel poverty,” and supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency investments by low-income households;
  • unlock the full benefits of digitalization in achieving SDG 7, while managing potential risks around security, privacy and rebound effects; and
  • ensure that updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) reflect countries’ renewable energy and energy efficiency goals.

UN DESA convened the multi-stakeholder SDG7-TAG in 2018 to support the HLPF’s review process, bringing together representatives from governments, UN entities, international organizations and other stakeholders. [DESA Press Release] [Publication: Accelerating SDG 7 Achievement: SDG 7 Policy Briefs in Support of the High-level Political Forum 2019] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on High-Level Dialogue on the Implementation of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Climate and SDGs Synergies Conference]


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