Achieving SDG 7 requires governments and other stakeholders to form partnerships and coordinate significant transfers of technology and financing, especially to support the most vulnerable.
The policy brief observes that “no single organization owns the global sustainable energy transition,” and this is a source of strength.
The brief is part of ISD’s ‘Still Only One Earth’ series on global environmental governance 50 years after the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.
The latest policy brief in IISD’s ‘Still Only One Earth’ series observes that “no single organization owns the global sustainable energy transition,” and this is a source of strength. Its polycentric, non-hierarchical governance features could be used as a model for other environmental crises.
The brief, authored by Mari Luomi, highlights that multilateral governance of energy remains scarce and fragmented, as does governance of sustainable energy. However, Luomi notes that “there have been some breakthroughs, including the establishment of the UN Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative, the SDGs, and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).”
Luomi argues that two major energy challenges must be overcome to achieve sustainable development: energy poverty and climate change. Five decades after the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment recognized the harmful environmental effects of energy production and use, scientists have determined that limiting global warming to safe levels requires leaving at least two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves unburned.
The author recalls that the MDGs did not include an energy- specific goal, possibly because of a “long-standing disagreement between the Global South and North on whether energy was primarily a ‘social and economic good’ or an ‘environmental bad.'” She reports that the UN Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative aimed to refocus the debate by emphasizing both the role of energy in sustainable development and the importance of protecting the environment (McDade, 2013), and its three targets adopted in 2011 influenced the negotiations on SDG 7, amounting to a “rather successful attempt to merge the access and transition agendas into one.”
To achieve SDG 7, the brief says that governments and other stakeholders must form partnerships and coordinate significant transfers of technology and financing, especially to support the most vulnerable. As an early adopter of multi-stakeholder approaches, Luomi concludes, the sustainable energy sector provides positive examples and lessons for other areas of global governance. [Publication: The Global Governance of Sustainable Energy: Access and Sustainable Transitions]