|Energy as it relates to Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Protection (UNDP, 1998, 36 p.)|
Conventional energy strategies for the most part have failed to help meet the basic human needs of the poor majority. Yet numerous opportunities are available for meeting basic needs at much lower energy consumption levels than has traditionally been the case. By using the most efficient technologies available today, and focusing increasingly on renewable sources of energy, the level of energy services can be increased considerably. Those increased services are essential for meeting basic human needs and in the process alleviating poverty and protecting the environment.
For people living in poverty, the first priority is the satisfaction of such basic human needs as access to jobs, food, health services, education, housing, running water, sanitation, etc. Energy plays an important role in providing for these needs. Although low energy consumption is not a cause of poverty, the lack of available energy services correlates closely with many poverty indicators. Addressing the problems of poverty requires addressing its many dimensions - poor education, bad health care, inadequate sanitation, etc. Addressing these issues involves increasing the level of energy services rather then the quantity of energy supply.
Developing countries have the most to gain from a sustainable energy future.
Those people living in poverty are the most vulnerable to the negative environmental effects of current energy development and would benefit the most in terms of social and economic development from a sustainable energy future. Improved energy services are needed but are not sufficient on their own to reach sustainable development goals. Energy activities can affect the goals of poverty and environment in profound ways, and a shift in the existing energy supply paradigm must occur towards measures that support sustainable development and sustainable energy.