Energy for the poor: underpinning the millennium development goals

Energy for the poor: underpinning the millennium development goals

Tackling poverty through access to clean and efficient energy services

This document highlights some of the ways in which access to clean, efficient energy services can tackle poverty.

Lack of access to adequate, affordable, reliable, safe and environmentally benign energy is a severe constraint on development. Two billion people lack clean, safe cooking fuels and must depend on traditional biomass sources. Many poor people already pay more per unit of energy than the better off due to inefficient technology and corruption.

Energy can contribute to sustainable economic, social and environmental development but flexibility of approach and intervention is needed to fit with the specific context and priorities. Co-ordination and consistency is needed between sectors to maximise the benefits of providing access to energy for the poor. More attention needs to be paid to social issues related to energy use than in the past.

The report recommends a number of steps to ensure energy underpins efforts to achieve the millennium development goals:

  • taking a people-centred approach, reaching beyond the technical issues, to deliver energy services that meet peoples’ needs and priorities
  • ensuring that communities have a voice in the decision making process on how to meet their energy needs
  • working across all sectors to integrate energy more fully into development processes early on
  • working at local, national and international levels, in order to develop pro-poor policies based on real evidence of the impact of energy on poor people
  • taking an holistic rather than project based approach to energy
  • building a deeper understanding of the links between energy and poverty reduction

The paper concludes that improving access to appropriate affordable energy services must be done through:

  • better management and regulation of the energy sector
  • increasing the efficiency of energy provision and use
  • increasing the choice of energy services
  • developing local capacity
  • encouraging partnerships and attracting private investment in energy services
  • providing access to finance at all levels and reducing costs
  • designing smarter subsidies and other policies that work for poverty reduction
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