Energy and the Millennium Development Goals
Why energy access is fundamental
In 2000, when world leaders committed to the eight Millennium Development Goals to achieve by 2015, energy did not feature.
Now, with just five years remaining until those Goals need to be reached, energy access is fully recognised as crucial to human development - on a personal, national and global scale.
In the words of UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, "Universal energy access is a key priority on the global development agenda. It is a foundation for all the Millennium Development Goals".
Without access to energy, billions of women, men and children are denied the opportunity to improve their lives - to stay fed and healthy, earn a living and participate in education.
With access to energy, whole communities have the power to challenge their poverty, helping to realise the Millennium Development Goals in the process.
The examples below show how improving energy access is fundamental to achieving the Millennium Development Goals:
Extreme poverty and hunger
- Modern fuels reduce time spent collecting fuel (such as firewood) and increase time for income-generating activities.
- Improved lighting reduces expenditure and boosts productivity.
- Refrigeration reduces food and crop waste.
Universal primary education
- Lighting allows children to study at night.
- Energy access can help rural schools to attract teachers.
- Improved cooking facilities free-up time spent collecting wood, for education.
- Electricity allows use of Information Technologies in education, and access to Internet.
Gender equality and women's empowerment
- Access to modern fuels lifts the burden on women and girls allowing more time to gain an education or earn a living.
- Reduction of smoke inhalation and household heating can improve child health and save lives.
- Health services are improved through lighting, heating and refrigeration.
- Improved lighting reduces deaths and injury from burns and fires.
- Modern fuels for cooking help improve health status of pregnant women and mothers.
- Lighting, heating and refrigeration improve health services and reduce childbirth complications.
HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases
- Health and well-being is improved, especially for women, through access to modern fuels.
- Access to clean fuels reduces deforestation.
- Improved cook-stoves reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Information exchange and dialogue is improved through access to communications and Information Technologies.
Crucially, a step-change in access to energy will result in real progress across the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in the region which is currently most off-track: sub Saharan Africa.