European Development Days: Action for an ambitious energy SDG

We’ve got just three months until world leaders agree a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years …goals that will affect the lives of millions of people.

There are proposed goals to:

  • eradicate extreme poverty
  • eliminate avoidable child death and hunger
  • provide good quality universal secondary education
  • deliver universal access to clean water and sanitation
  • ensure access to affordable energy for all.

A few months later, UNFCCC negotiators will meet in Paris to finalise a new climate agreement.

We have a real chance to take serious action against some of the world’s biggest challenges…one of those being access to energy, which underpins efforts to achieve many of the development goals.

We need an ambitious energy SDG

In the run up to the deadline, Practical Action is calling for SDG and UNFCCC negotiators to design goals and agreements on energy that support a ‘no person left behind’ agenda and deliver not only on energy for the poor, but energy for the planet. Please join our EU call for action.

More than one billion people don’t have access to electricity and nearly half the world’s population cook on open fires using solid fuels like wood and charcoal. The toxic smoke from these fires kills more than four million people a year – more than malaria, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis combined.


Only a robust, clearly defined energy goal can provide the clarity and targets needed to measure progress and hold countries to account for providing not just any access, but meaningful levels of energy that can be used to create jobs, power medical facilities, and provide cleaner alternatives to the dangerously dirty cooking fuels used today by billions.

If the level of ambition for an energy goal is not increased, universal access to energy will not become a reality, however catastrophic climate change will. The current phrasing inadequately calls for the world to “increase substantially the share of renewable energy.” This does not offer the clarity or sense of urgency needed to spur appropriate action on the greatest environmental challenge humanity has ever faced. Only a goal of tripling the share of renewable energy can deliver on the internationally agreed target of limiting global temperature increases to two degrees.

Practical Action at European Development Days 2015 (#EDD15)

That’s why a team from Practical Action are at the European Development Days in Brussels this week. We’re running a session, in partnership with Carbon Clear and UNHCR, highlighting innovative and sustainable energy access solutions that could save lives and our environment. It will specifically examine an innovative project in Darfur, Sudan, which has used carbon credits and microfinance to help 15,000 families replace traditional fires with LPG stoves. The project has not only eliminated deadly smoke from homes and countless hours searching for firewood, but also has reduced deforestation and created jobs.

The session, ‘Cooking on gas: can fossil fuels save lives and reduce deforestation?’ is at 09:00-10:15 on Thursday 4 June in Room S4.

We’re also hosting a stand (W3) championing this very topic: showcasing our energy work and advocating the importance of universal access to energy, which is not a standalone issue but underpins efforts to achieve many other development goals.

“Let’s grasp this historic opportunity”

“It’s the most important year in international development in a whole generation,” said Melinda Gates at a European Development Days session yesterday. “To make sure of success we need to get citizens around the world engaged in this process. We need to excite people, get them to share information, talk about the goals and stand up and say this is important. Let’s grasp this historic opportunity to make a world where everyone has a chance to live a healthy and productive life.”

Get involved and influence

The SDGs have the potential to make a real difference but they are only going to be as good as we make them. That’s why it’s important to get involved and influence this crucial framework for development.

I’m extremely excited about the conversations that are taking place on this important issue. Join the conversation and follow our activities at @practicalaction and #EDD15.

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