In September 2015, the international community came together and approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which contained 17 goals and over 169 targets to “provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet”. Among others, one of the greatest challenges facing countries in meeting the 2030 goals is universal energy access for all (SDG7), whose “advancement has the potential to spur progress across SDGs on poverty eradication, gender equality, mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, food security, health, education, sustainable cities and communities, clean water and sanitation, jobs, innovation, transport, and refugees and other situations of displacement”, as stated in the preface of a new collection of policy briefs compiled by the multi-stakeholder SDG 7 Technical Advisory Group (SDG7-TAG) and convened by the United Nations. The policy briefs “Accelerating SDG 7 Achievement: SDG 7 Policy Briefs in Support of the High-level Political Forum 2019”, launched on May, 24 at the High-level Dialogue on the implementation of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024, outline the interlinkages between SDG 7 and the SDGs under review at the upcoming High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July (SDG 4, 8, 10, 13, 16, 17). With 11 years left and the related challenges in shifting to a sustainable energy path, major efforts are required to all countries to leave no one behind.
“Closing the energy access gap to serve the remaining unserved requires strong political commitment and targeted policies to reach the needs of the poor, of women’s as well as men’s energy needs” said Sheila Oparaocha, ENERGIA’s International Coordinator and co-facilitator of the SDG 7 Technical Advisory Group, during the meeting.
The pledge to leave no one behind means that women and girls should be included in the equation, as they are the most affected by energy poverty. Our report “Gender in the transition to energy for all: From evidence to inclusive policies” makes clear that women can be part of the solution in bringing modern energy services to last mile communities. The evidence also shows that engaging women in the energy system supply chain is good for them and their families, and it is good for business. The report, which presents a prioritised selection of key messages and associated policy implications from nine in depth studies conducted by 9 research teams from 29 universities and research institutions, shows that women are economically active and have same growth aspirations of men. Women’s role needs to be enhanced through financial support, and by creating an enabling environment. “Women just have to be given an equitable opportunity” stressed Sheila Oparaocha at the high-level panel.
While tremendous progress has been made, much more needs to be done. To ensure that no one is left behind, a holistic approach that goes beyond energy supply is necessary. Understanding the needs for energy services in terms of affordability, reliability, capacity and convenience for different groups of people and acting upon this understanding can help reduce inequities—including gender inequities by meeting different energy needs within the household—and is critical for universal energy access.
Ahead the High-Level Political Forum, Sheila Oparaocha shared three key policy messages to advance progress on gender equality and energy access:
- Universal energy access targets are unlikely to be met unless energy policies are aligned to women’s as well as men’s energy needs, their assets, skills, limitations and capabilities, and existing gender norms.
- Employment in renewable energy stood at 10.3 million in 2017, and could potentially reach about 24 million by 2030. This offers significant opportunities for achieving a greater gender balance in the global energy transformation. In order to breach the gender disparity in the energy sector, it is critical to create an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs and provide private and public suppliers with a toolkit of proven strategies on how to effectively engage women in the supply chain.
- Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is a key condition for reducing inequalities and achieving the principle of “Leaving no one behind” (SDG 10). The high cost of modern energy services still remains a barrier for achieving the SDGs, at the same time the reliability and quality of the energy supply are key influencing factors that motivate the choice to adopt modern energy services.
The full report, SDG 7 Policy Briefs in Support of the High-level Political Forum 2019, can be downloaded here: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/22877UN_FINAL_ONLINE_20190523.pdf
Press release UNDESA:
ENERGIA report “Gender in the transition to energy for all: From evidence to inclusive policies” can be accessed here: https://www.energia.org/cm2/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Gender-in-the-transition-to-sustainable-energy-for-all_-From-evidence-to-inclusive-policies_FINAL.pdf