The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020 Page 14

GOAL 7: Affordable and clean energy

Goal 7 infographic

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all:

Lack of access to energy supplies and transformation systems is a constraint to human and economic development. The environment provides a series of renewable and non-renewable energy sources i.e. solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, biofuels, natural gas, coal, petroleum, uranium. 

Increased use of fossil fuels without actions to mitigate greenhouse gases will have global climate change implications. Energy efficiency and increase use of renewables contribute to climate change mitigation and disaster risk reduction. Maintaining and protecting ecosystems allow using and further developing hydropower sources of electricity and bioenergy.


  • 3 billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating
  • Energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions
  • Since 1990, global emissions of CO2 have increased by more than 46 per cent.
  • Hydropower is the largest single renewable electricity source today, providing 16% of world electricity at competitive prices. It dominates the electricity mix in several countries, developed, emerging or developing.
  • Bioenergy is the single largest renewable energy source today, providing 10% of world primary energy supply.

Targets linked to the environment:

  • Target 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services
  • Target 7.2: By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
  • Target 7.3: By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
  • Target 7.a: By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology
  • Target 7.b: By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and land-locked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support

To learn more about UN Environment’s contributions to SDG 7:


  • January 2018SDG 7 ConferenceA global SDG 7 meeting was held from 21 to 23 February 2018 in Bangkok, UN ESCAP. The Global SDG 7 conference was co-convened by UN DESA, UN ESCAP and the Ministry of Energy of Thailand. The conference brought together key stakeholders from Governments, UN system and other international organizations, the private sector, and civil society to engage in a dialogue that emphasized the integrated and cross-cutting nature of sustainable energy and its multiple roles in supporting the achievement of the SDGs. The conference was generously supported by Norway, Republic of Korea, China, Germany, The Netherlands, the European Commission, ENERGIA, and Hivos.
  • January 2015SDG 7Sustainable Development Goal 7 aims to “Ensure access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all” ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services (7.1), increasing substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix (7.2), doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency (7.3), enhancing international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology (7.a) and expanding infrastructure and upgrading technology (7.b).
  • January 2014UN Decade of SE4AllThe United Nations have been working together with stakeholders in order to develop a more coordinated plan of action at global level to ensure progress on sustainable energy for all. The United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024) represents a precious opportunity for all stakeholders to gather around a common platform to take further action and complement activities and synergies ensuring progress towards the overall objectives of sustainable energy for all.
  • January 20141st Annual SE4All ForumConvened as a high-level meeting and organized by the UN SG Ban Ki-moon,the SE4All Forum marked the beginning of the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024, including its initial two year focus on Energy for Women, Children, and Health. On the last day of the Forum, more than 60 delegations attended the High-Level Dialogue on Energy in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
  • October 2012International Year of SE4AllThrough the adoption of Resolution 65/151, the UN General Assembly established the year 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. This decision aimed at raising awareness about the importance of increasing sustainable access to energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy at local, national, regional and international levels. Furthermore, it focused on the impact that energy services have on other sectors such as productivity, health, education, climate change, food and water security, and communication services. .
  • January 2012Future We Want (Para. 125-129)Future We Want recognizes the crucial role that energy plays in the development process, emphasizes the need to address the challenge of access to sustainable modern energy services for all and recognizes that improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of renewable energy and cleaner and energy-efficient technologies are important for sustainable development.
  • January 2011SE4All InitiativeIn September 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched Sustainable Energy for All as a global initiative aimed at achieving sustainable energy for all by 2030 and able to mobilize action from all sectors of society in support of three interlinked objectives: providing universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
  • January 2007CSD-15, Implementation Thematic ClusterCSD-15 recognized that energy was crucial for sustainable development and poverty eradication. The Commission agreed on the need to further diversify energy supply by developing advanced, cleaner, more efficient, affordable and cost-effective energy technologies.
  • January 2006CSD-14, Thematic Cluster: Energy for SDCSD-14 convened in May 2006 and focused on the importance of energy use for the achievement of sustainable development, but also on its role as one of the main contributors to air pollution, atmospheric problems and greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the Commission highlighted the need to further develop cleaner energy methods, technologies as well as to ensure access to modern energy services for cooking and heating and agreed on the need to provide a judicious mix of energy from all sources in order to meet the rising global energy demand with optimal efficiency, with advanced, cleaner fossil fuel technologies playing an important role.
  • January 2002JPOI (Chap. 2.9)The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) addresses energy in the context of sustainable development. The JPOI calls, inter alia, for action to: (1) improve access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services; (2) recognize that energy services have positive impacts on poverty eradication and the improvement of standards of living; (3) develop and disseminate alternative energy technologies with the aim of giving a greater share of the energy mix to renewable energy and, with a sense of urgency, substantially increase the global share of renewable energy sources; (4) diversify energy supply by developing advanced, cleaner, more efficient and cost-effective energy technologies; (5) combine a range of energy technologies, including advanced and cleaner fossil fuel technologies to meet the growing need for energy services; (6) accelerate the development, dissemination and deployment of affordable and cleaner energy efficiency and energy conservation technologies and (7) take action, where appropriate, to phase out subsidies in this area that inhibit sustainable development.

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