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August 2020

Policy Briefs to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 7

In support of the critically important discussions at this year’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), the third compilation of SDG 7 Policy Briefs was published to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all).

This particular SDG stimulates the eradication of poverty, food security, health, education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, jobs, sustainable cities and communities, and climate change. With only ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the renewable energy transition has to be expedited. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, it is crucial to put the clean energy transformation and universal energy access at the center of the economic recovery packages, by ensuring sustainability, energy security and an inclusive energy transition. The achievement of universal access to clean energy requires mobilizing investment in energy access, renewable energy systems, and energy efficiency. The new policy briefs call attention to the fact that fossil fuel subsidies still amount to over USD 400 billion (2018), more than double the subsidies to renewables.

The policy briefs also emphasize the recommendations of the Technical Advisory Group for energy policies that can simultaneously address the SDG goals, the climate crisis and the global pandemic. The 2020 edition of Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report finds that significantly accelerated efforts are required across all the SDG 7 targets to have a chance of achieving the goal until 2030.[1]

Progress will depend on the priorities set by the national economic stimulus packages and the global response to support the most vulnerable groups. According to the estimations of IRENA and IEA made before the COVID-19 crisis, the world would require annual investments by 2030 of around USD 680 billion to renewable energy, around USD 45 billion to energy access and USD 625 billion to energy efficiency.

The achievement of SDG 7 is not only about ensuring that all individuals and communities have access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, but also about the socio-economic impacts that will be associated with the achievement of SDG 7. Therefore, comprehensive investment packages and more engagement from the private sector need to be considered. Core elements of a fair and inclusive transition include upscaling renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency, enabling access to electricity and clean cooking solutions in rural areas.

In the light of the pandemic, reliable energy services are crucial. Energy powers communication services, makes home schooling possible, provides communication services during social distancing. To avoid the business as usual recovery after COVID-19 and accelerate the path toward achieving SDG 7, the policy briefs set out a number of recommendations for governments:

  • ‘Integrate sustainable energy solutions into COVID-19 responses and recovery strategies to help economies become greener and more resilient – based on the SDG 7 targets;
  • Use enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as a framework for green investment through economic recovery packages;
  • Prioritize modern energy services that save lives;
  • Invest in renewables and energy efficiency to create green jobs;
  • Phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies;
  •  Adopt just transition strategies to support the phase-out of coal through clean energy plans and targets;
  • Support vulnerable groups to leave no one behind;
  • Promote a more gender-equal response and recovery;
  • Encourage a transition from energy intensive lifestyles to more sustainable patterns;
  • Design development activities to prioritize green investment;
  • Strengthen international cooperation and multilateralism.’ (Source: United Nations 2020: Policy Briefs In Support Of The High-Level Political Forum 2020)

The policy briefs in support of the High-Level Political Forum 2020 accelerating SDG7 achievement in the time of COVID-19 can be downloaded from here.

For more information click here.

[1] Produced by the International Energy Agency, the International Renewable Energy Agency, the United Nations Statistics Division, the World Bank, and the World Health Organizatio