24 April 2018
Advisory Group Proposes Global Agenda to Accelerate SDG 7 Implementation
UN Photo/Mark Garten
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The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs convened the multi-stakeholder Technical Advisory Group on SDG 7 (access to affordable and sustainable energy for all) to support the review of SDG 7 at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2018.

The Group proposed a 'Global Agenda for Accelerated SDG 7 Action' aiming to catalyze time-bound and measurable actions.

The Global Agenda includes recommended actions in four interlinked categories: advancing SDG 7 implementation; strengthening interlinkages with other SDGs; addressing regional priorities; and accelerating transformation towards a sustainable and inclusive future.

18 April 2018: The SDG 7 Technical Advisory Group launched a set of policy briefs that identify priority areas requiring urgent action to achieve access to affordable and sustainable energy for all by 2030 (SDG 7). The set of 27 Policy Briefs on SDG 7 and interlinkages with other SDGs includes a new Global Agenda for Accelerated SDG 7 Action. The Global Agenda is intended to serve as roadmap towards achieving universal energy access by 2030 and maximizing its positive impact on other SDGs.

The launch event took place on 18 April 2018, at the UN Headquarters in New York, US. The multi-stakeholder SDG 7 Technical Advisory Group was convened by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) to support the review of SDG 7 at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July 2018. The Advisory Group is comprised of representatives of 50 organizations, including 21 from the UN system, as well governments, other international organizations and stakeholders.

The proposed Global Agenda for Accelerated SDG 7 Action aims to catalyze time-bound and measurable actions, grouped into four interlinked categories:

  • Advancing SDG 7 implementation through: prioritizing clean-cooking solutions; closing the electricity access gap; accelerating the pace of transition towards renewable energy; scaling up investments in energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy; doubling global financing for SDG 7; scaling up capacity-building and education; enhancing innovation; and investing in data collection systems and data analysis.
  • Strengthening interlinkages between SDG 7 and other SDGs by: taking a unified approach to SDG 7 and the Paris Agreement on climate change; integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment into all energy actions; and promoting sustainable and low-carbon cities.
  • Addressing regional priorities through strengthening cooperation at the regional level and prioritizing ending energy poverty in the most vulnerable countries.
  • Accelerating the transformation towards a sustainable and inclusive future by: promoting transformative investments; transforming human behavior from energy-intensive lifestyles to more sustainable patterns; strengthening decision-making through improvements in energy data collection, indicators and monitoring; and harnessing the power of all stakeholders to drive change.

Marcel Alers, UN Development Programme (UNDP), introduced the policy brief on financing SDG 7. He noted that there is a big financing gap for universal access to clean fuels, with current annual investment at US$240 million, versus annual funding needs of US$4.4 billion to 2030. He cautioned that investment is not spread equally, with developed and middle-income countries being able to access finance while many developing countries are currently left out. He emphasized that annual global financing for SDG 7 needs to double, from the current level of US$500 billion to US$1 to 1.2 trillion per year by 2030. He stressed that private finance is central to meeting SDG 7.

Noting that around 90% of the population is at risk of heart and lung disease due to air pollution exposure caused by inefficient use of energy, Maria Neira, the World Health Organization (WHO), presented the policy brief on energy and health. She announced that on 2 May WHO will launch new statistics on air pollution. She also underscored that all SDG 7 targets are critical enablers for universal health coverage and will advance progress towards achievement of SDG 3 (health).

Presenting the brief on energy and education (SDG 4), Rakshya Rajyashwori Thapa, UN International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said 300 million children are affected by the lack of energy in schools, 60% of which are girls. She noted that youth literacy levels are lower in countries with electrification rates below 80%, adding that efforts to electrify schools have lagged behind. She explained that the publication recommends, inter alia, adopting policies that incentivize and prioritize investment in energy access in the education sector, and catalyzing support through stakeholder engagement, public advocacy and outreach to influence decision makers.

Noting that more than 1 billion people lack access to electricity and more than 3 billion lack access to clean cooking, with women bearing the greatest burden of this energy poverty, Sheila Oparaocha, Executive Director, ENERGIA, presented the document on energy and gender (SDG 5). She said the publication recommends, inter alia: establishing gender responsive global and national energy sector policies; promoting and investing more in clean cooking technologies; and reducing barriers in the energy industry for women, while also increasing their representation in national and global energy bodies.

Rabia Ferroukhi, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), spoke about the role of SDG 7 in achieving SDG 8 (decent jobs and economic growth). She noted that renewable energy deployment has led to growing employment, and predicted that this trend will accelerate. She explained that the policy brief on energy and jobs recommends, inter alia: designing active labor market policies to respond to evolving market needs; coordinating education and training policies with the needs of the renewable energy sector; ensuring that jobs are decent; and undertaking measures to minimize disruptions in the energy transition through social protection measures and retraining efforts.

Sheila Watson, FIA Foundation, presented the policy brief on energy and transport (related to SDG 11). She explained that transport is the single largest energy user in many developed countries, while transport energy demand has been rising faster than in any other sector. She noted that energy consumption in the transport sector will continue to grow predominantly in developing countries. To respond to these trends, she said the publication recommends, inter alia:

  • implementing fuel economy policies to improve the efficiency of light and heavy duty vehicles and promoting electric and zero emission vehicles;
  • improving the efficiency of trucks, including fuel economy standards, and ‘green freight’ initiatives, including consolidated logistics;
  • phasing out fossil-fuel subsidies;
  • investing in safe walking and cycling infrastructure;
  • addressing emissions from international aviation and maritime transport; and
  • accelerating research in efficient batteries and energy storage systems.

Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, High Representative, UN Office of the High Representative of Least Developed Countries (UN-OHRLLS), said we must ensure that the most vulnerable will not be left behind. She identified two areas of action as essential: capacity building for countries on policy and project design for SDG 7; and facilitating access to finance for the most vulnerable countries. She added that political leadership and national strategies are essential for the achievement of SDG 7.

In the ensuing discussion, Denmark suggested reflecting this approach to SDG 7 in the HLPF Ministerial Declaration, and to highlighting at next year’s HLPF under the UN General Assembly (UNGA) that SDG 7 is essential to achieving all the other SDGs. Supported by Pakistan, she emphasized the need to focus on SDG 7 also as part of the Climate Summit to take place in September 2019 in New York, US. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) underscored the need for a conversation about rebalancing budgets to support sustainable energy. Other stakeholders focused on the need for rights-based approaches to partnerships that involve indigenous communities and to ensure inclusive benefits for them. [DESA Press Release][SDG 7 Technical Advisory Group][Publication: Accelerating SDG 7 Achievement: Policy Briefs in Support of the First SDG 7 Review at the UN High-Level Political Forum 2018][Event Agenda][Summary of the Presentations]

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