ESCWA Reports on Progress on SDG 7 in Arab Region
UN Photo/Ariane Rummery
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The Arab region is on track to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030, but is not on track to achieve SDG targets 7.2 (increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030) and 7.3 (doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030).

The report calls for better use of development aid to support scalable, replicable projects that benefit local communities.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) has published a report tracking progress made on SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) at the regional and country levels through the indicators of energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy. The report also addresses interlinkages between progress in SDG 7 and SDG 13 (climate action).

The report titled, ‘Tracking SDG 7: Energy Progress Report,’ seeks to help build capacity in the Arab region through access to information, with the aim of strengthening policies to improve energy security, enhance climate resilience and mainstream the SDGs into regional and national policy processes. 

According to the report, SDG target 7.1 (by 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services) has seen progress, and the Arab region is on track to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030 (SDG indicator 7.1.1) and improved access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking (SDG indicator 7.1.2). The region’s electrification rate rose from 88.4% in 2010 to 92.5% in 2017, making it the most electrified region in the developing world. By 2017, electrification access was almost universal in all but three Arab countries (Mauritania, the Sudan and Yemen), and the number of people without access fell from 40 million in 2010 to 30 million in 2017, although increasing conflicts in the region have impacted on energy access in affected areas. 

The share of renewable energy has been plateauing at around 10.2% of the Arab region’s total energy consumption since 2010.

However, the report warns, progress on other SDG targets is not on track. Regarding SDG target 7.2 (increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030), the share of renewable energy has been plateauing at around 10.2% of the region’s total energy consumption since 2010, with Arab least developed countries (LDCs) accounting for a large proportion of renewable energy use through traditional biomass. Increased solar energy deployment has contributed little to the total primary energy supply in most non-LDCs. Regarding SDG 7.3 (doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030), energy intensity in the region has continued to decline, but not enough to align with the need to decouple economic growth and energy consumption.

The report explains that to achieve both the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change, Arab countries must:

  • equip local markets with effective policy frameworks, including incentives, such as availability of finance, investments in sustainable and clean energy, education infrastructure and services, and the removal of market barriers;
  • ensure inclusive, transparent and competent state-level institutions to guarantee sustainable energy policies;
  • update Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that include renewable energy and energy efficiency goals;
  • strengthen regional cooperation; and
  • promote an energy transition that fosters more inclusive and sustainable societies. 

The report also urges better use of development aid to support scalable, replicable projects that benefit local communities. [Publication: Tracking SDG 7: Energy Progress Report] [Publication Overview] [Publication Highlights] [Publication Landing Page]

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