Energy Governance: Four Ways to Success
Far from the headlines, 770 million people around the world cannot turn on a light switch and get electricity to their homes. They can’t turn on a light when the sun goes down, or start a fan despite the unbearable heat, or run an oven while cooking a meal. Not just after a flood, earthquake, storm or in times of conflict, but every day. It is their daily reality. It has an impact on their lives, their income, their education, their diet, their health and all aspects of their lives. They are deprived of something fundamental: access to energy. If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, agreed by world leaders in 2015, with a deadline fast approaching, this must change. But how?
A just energy transition is the answer. It means putting people and communities at the center of our transition. It underpins both adaptation and mitigation of climate change. The transition must take place within the broader context of sustainable human development – so that it truly leaves no one behind, lifts people out of poverty, reduces social inequality, supports human rights and serves the broader public interest, rather than promoting the interests of specific groups.
Recognizing the central role of energy in climate goals, as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions, countries have committed to reducing emissions and adapting to climate impacts. And UNDP is committed to working with countries to ensure progress in scaling up action on climate change.
The pledge to leave no one behind is not just a slogan. You have to increase access to energy to those who are furthest behind, hardest to reach and living in crisis situations. In this context, UNDP and its partners have committed to providing clean and affordable energy to an additional 500 million people by 2025. This also requires improving energetic efficiencyas well as the acceleration of energetic transition capitalizing on clean energy technologies, innovating business models and developing new strategies for private sector investment.
There is no miracle solution. To achieve their ambitious energy goals, countries will need institutions, frameworks, policies, programs and governance processes to work together to support this transition. UNDP is committed to helping countries strengthen their energy governance and recommends four achievable priorities:
- Inclusive and effective institutions, who are the essential foundation for achieving the energy priorities of the 21st century. Institutions need to be responsive, accountable, trustworthy and transparent, and able to act in a more coordinated way across government to address challenges or seize opportunities in society. Strengthening the capacities and capacities of institutions is necessary to ensure that they play their role in the most efficient and effective manner.
- A legal and regulatory framework which creates an enabling environment for the promotion of renewable energy, encourages private investment, supports new clean energy innovations and promotes innovative business models for the energy sector. Legal frameworks also need clearly defined enforcement mechanisms with clear responsibilities and obligations for all stakeholders to ensure people are protected from new risks, such as cybersecurity risks.
- Civic engagement and empowerment is a must to ensure a successful energy transition from the perspective of the whole of society. It is essential to protect and improve civic space by empowering citizens and communities to participate in diagnosing problems and co-creating energy solutions, including through the creation of platforms that enhance innovation. The voices of women, youth, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and others who are often excluded from public policy-making, but most affected, must be incorporated into energy decision-making processes.
- Appropriate monitoring, including through national parliaments and their committees, and independent agencies, ombudspersons, human rights commissions, anti-corruption agencies, investigative and judicial bodies, and consumer commissions that play an important role in the energy governance of the 21st century by ensuring respect for fundamental rights and standards.
Although the field of energy governance is relatively new, evidence from our governance work for people and planet in more than 130 countries in all regions over the decades has shown us that success will depend on four approaches and underlines:
- Inclusive and integrated delivery that supports gender equality, identifying who is being left behind and mainstreaming energy programming and policy support, connecting to other areas such as health, education, poverty, inequality and gender equality. ‘use. This will also require strengthened sex-disaggregated and gender-sensitive data.
- Multi-level approaches that recognize the importance of local-level governance ecosystems that are needed to drive local energy actions by supporting local actors to participate, innovate and co-create locally relevant energy solutions.
- Digitally enabled programming which brings enormous power to improve processes and results. It can catalyze our actions by improving systems thinking, increasing the use of data, bringing innovation in delivery, creating new collaborations, encouraging joint advocacy and improving knowledge sharing.
- A flexible and adaptive approach to governance programming that supports progress in complex and uncertain times. It puts implementation and delivery at the center and uses collective intelligence to anticipate, prevent, react and recover from risks and challenges.
Applying these four approaches consistently across the four priority areas will enhance and multiply our impact in the years to come.
UNDP has always taken an integrated approach to meeting our needs. For example, in Nepal, UNDP empowered women and other disadvantaged groups through access to electricity. In Zimbabwe, the installation of solar panels in health facilities has helped health workers reduce complications during and after pregnancy and childbirth. In Paraguay, the citizens of the capital have been involved in planning decisions to make it a green city.
This proposed framework will further help UNDP leverage its core capacities and work with our partners, leveraging their expertise and resources to scale up sustainable energy delivery and expand its reach. This will help us think systemically, identify gaps, and support governance systems that will address the complexities of the energy system and its links to other pressing issues, and facilitate the just energy transitions the world needs.