Better energy access would help improve the lives of billions of people all over the world; in the World Energy Outlook 2011 the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that, right now, there are 1.3 billion people without access to electricity and another 2.7 billion who rely on wood, coal, charcoal, or animal waste to cook food and heat their homes, using stoves that are not only inefficient and damaging to the environment, but also responsible for two million deaths a year.
These worrying numbers have caused the General Assembly of the United Nations to declare 2012 ‘the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’, calling on business, governments and civil society to help make access to energy more widespread, improve efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy sources.
Energy is ‘fundamental for all,’ explained the UN Secretary General Ban KI-moon. ‘It is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity and preservation of the environment.’
Having energy access would make a huge difference to the lives of the poorest, and sustainable electricity even more so; an energy produced and used as part of long-term social, economic and environmental development.
With this in mind, Ban Ki-moon has set three targets to be reached by 2030:
- Universal access to electricity;
- Double energy efficiency;
- Double the contribution of renewable energy to worldwide production.
Access to energy will be one of the central themes discussed at the United Nations Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, which has been organised by Global Compact and is supported by both Enel and Endesa. The forum will take place as part of the UN’s Rio+20 Sustainability Development conference.