Civil society coalition calls for inclusive Sustainable Energy for All agenda

News, 18 May 2015
At the second annual UN Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Forum, to be held in New York from 18-22 May, a group of 26 civil society organisations (CSOs) from around the world are calling for the SE4ALL initiative to ensure civil society can participate effectively in national and regional decision-making processes.

The solar panels at this rural health centre in Uzbekistan help provide power for electricity and heating. A safe, reliable and affordable energy supply allows the clinic to improve the quality of medical services it can offer (Photo: UNDP in Uzbekistan, Creative Commons via Flickr)

The Alliance of Civil Society Organisations for Clean Energy Access (ACCESS) was created in 2014 to advocate for people living in poverty to have access to safe, reliable and affordable energy, and for environmentally sustainable and efficient energy systems globally. 

The SE4ALL initiative has three ambitious targets for 2030: universal energy access, doubling the annual rate of energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix.

With 1.2 billion people still living without access to modern energy services and 2.8 billion without access to clean cooking methods, action to support these goals is needed urgently. 

The founding members of ACCESS – CAFOD, ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy, Greenpeace, HIVOS, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Practical Action, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – believe that meaningful CSO participation in the SE4ALL initiative is vital for the initiative to achieve the ambitious targets it has set itself.

CSOs and community organisations have decades of valuable experience, either in delivering access to energy on the ground, or acting as trusted intermediaries between government, the private sector and energy users on the ground – particularly for poor and vulnerable groups. 

Despite this expertise and the fact that civil society forms the third pillar of the Secretary-General's High Level Group's framework for action alongside government and the private sector, CSO voices often have trouble being heard in the SE4ALL context, according to a recent survey of civil society experience in several countries carried out by CAFOD, HIVOS, IIED and Practical Action.

The survey found that civil society respondents felt overall that they were unable to engage meaningfully in the SE4ALL initiative. There also appears to be little support from international agencies supporting SE4ALL in many countries.

Media invitation: The coalition is holding a workshop to gather 'Voices from the field' on Sunday, 17 May at 2pm, and will be presenting its findings during the main forum on Monday, 18 May in Room C, at 2.40pm. ACCESS actively welcomes CSOs, energy access businesses, government delegates and the media to attend both sessions. 

To attend the 'Voices from the field' event, contact: Daniel Riley, WWF US, via daniel.riley@wwfus.org.

Contact

For more information and interviews with ACCESS members, contact:
Ben Garside, IIED senior researcher via ben.garside@iied.org or + 1 917 753 4523.

Katharine Mansell
Media and external affairs manager

International Institute for Environment and Development
80-86 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8NH, UK.
Tel: +44 (0)20 3463 7399
Fax: +44 (0)20 3514 9055

Email: katharine.mansell@iied.org
www.iied.org

Notes to editors

The full list of civil society groups that currently make up ACCESS include:

Accese (more information at Hivos)
Catholic aid agency for England and Wales (CAFOD)
Centre for Rural Technology, Nepal (CRT Nepal)
Energy and Environmental Concerns for Zambia (EECZ) (more information at Household Energy Network (Hedon)
ENERGIA 
Free the Maginalized Women Advocates (FREMWA) 
Friends of the Earth US
Groupe Energies Renouvebles, Environment et Solidarites (geres) 
Green Africa Foundation 
Ghana Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves (more information at Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
Greenpeace 
HIVOS 
IIED 
Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) 
Kenya Climate Working Group 
KITE
Practical Action
Renewable Malawi 
Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN)
Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA) 
TERI 
Vasudha Foundation 
World Resources Institute  
WWF
ZERO Regional Environment Organisation 

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is an independent, non-profit research institute. Set up in 1971 and based in London, IIED provides expertise and leadership in researching and achieving sustainable development (see: www.iied.org).

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