A man stands in front of a solar plant in Namibia, which consists of numerous panels.

Background Urgent need for global energy transition

There are still hundreds of millions of people in the world who have poor access to energy. Energy shortage has a negative impact on the quality of life, on health and education opportunities. It contributes to poverty – not least because it hampers economic development in many countries of the world.

Almost 10 per cent of the people worldwide – some 750 million people – had no access to energy in 2020. More than three quarters of them live in African countries south of the Sahara. Roughly 2.5 billion people depend on biomass such as wood or dung for cooking – with serious consequences: Forests are being cut and open fires pollute the air, severely damaging people’s health.

Energy and gender equality

Women and girls are especially affected by energy poverty. The lack of access to energy also brings an extra work load for them, beyond the mentioned negative health impacts. In many countries, collecting fuel and cooking is traditionally the responsibility of women. This takes a lot of time and energy – which they then do not have to make the most of their opportunities for moving up the socio-economic ladder. They lack time for education, jobs or business activities to generate their own income, or simply as spare time.

All in all this means: good universal access to energy can release enormous economic and social potential – throughout societies, but especially when it comes to women and girls. Sustainable energy supply is an important step towards achieving gender equality. And in view of climate change, the transformation of energy systems also contributes significantly to fostering the resilience of the economy and of societies.

Huge challenges

In order to reduce poverty worldwide and achieve the global development goals of the 2030 Agenda, the international community needs to push forward the development and expansion of energy supply in the countries of the Global South.

At the same time decisive action is required worldwide to bring down the consumption of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and halt climate change.

In order to master these challenges, the world needs a global energy transition. Only by increasing energy efficiency and using more renewable energy can more people be given access to energy while, at the same time, protecting the environment and the global climate.

As at: 25/07/2023