One of the main goals of the United Nations Development
Programme is to help the entire UN system become a unified and powerful force
for sustainable human development.
Sustainable human development is people-centered development. It
generates economic growth and equitably distributes the fruits of that growth.
It empowers people, expands their choices and opportunities, and involves them
in decisions that shape their lives.
For UNDP, sustainable human development means focusing resources
on four key areas: eradicating poverty, increasing women's role in development,
providing people with income-earning opportunities, and protecting and
regenerating the environment.
Initiatives in the energy sector are an important means to
achieve sustainable human development. After all, as countries develop, their
energy-service needs evolve and expand. And, the production and consumption of
energy has a tremendous impact on economies, environments and industrial
development. Energy should, therefore, be taken into account in any development
If current patterns of energy production, distribution and
consumption continue, progress in a number of countries could slow dramatically,
or even come to a halt. We must, therefore, reconsider the way we use energy.
This is not only important for developing countries, but for industrialized ones
as well. The challenges before us will not be met by making minor adjustments to
countries' conventional energy systems. Instead, a major shift away from
business-as-usual is needed.
A number of ideas for this shift were presented to the
international community at the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development in 1992. An action agenda - known as "Agenda 21" - issued at the
conclusion of the conference, called on nations to find more efficient systems
for producing, distributing and consuming energy, and for greater reliance on
environmentally sound energy systems, with special emphasis on renewable sources
Renewable energy is extremely important to development because
it can offer people income-earning opportunities. In Brazil, for example, a
programme to produce ethanol from sugar cane helped create about 700,000 jobs in
rural areas. The Brazilian example shows how an innovative energy strategy can
be instrumental in achieving a country's goals for sustainable human
UNDP, especially through its Initiative on Sustainable Energy,
is helping countries implement national energy policies that support their
development strategies. This initiative is demonstrating how the energy sector
can be a tool for development by giving people income-earning opportunities,
building up government institutions' capacities for protecting the environment
and increasing energy efficiency, and accelerating technological development.
UNDP, which has funded many energy-development projects, continues to formulate
new ways to address this important issue.
The authors of this volume describe the important links between
energy and development, and show how energy can be used in ways that improve
people's lives. Their work, therefore, contributes to the global debate on
energy and offers us insights into the complexity of the challenges we face. I
congratulate their effort and am confident that it will benefit decision-makers,
policy-makers, academics, and the international development community.
New York, July