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close this bookWorld Energy Assessment - Energy and the Challenge of Sustainability - Overview (UNDESA - UNDP - WEA - WEC, 2000, 42 p.)
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Mark Malloch Brown
Administrator United Nations Development Programme

Nitin Desai
Under Secretary-General United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Gerald Doucet
Secretary General World Energy Council

More than 175 governments have committed to Agenda 21, the programme for achieving human-centred sustainable development adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Agenda 21 noted energy's importance to sustainable development. The June 1997 Special Session of the UN General Assembly, convened to review progress on Agenda 21, went further. It emphasised that sustainable patterns of energy production, distribution, and use are crucial to continued improvements in the quality of life. It also declared that the ninth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-9), in 2001, should focus on issues related to the atmosphere and energy and to energy and transport.

To inform the discussion and debate, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), and World Energy Council (WEC) initiated the World Energy Assessment in late 1998. This report analyses the social, economic, environmental, and security issues linked to energy supply and use, and assesses options for sustainability in each area.

We offer the World Energy Assessment as an input to the CSD-9 process, the “Rio Plus Ten” meeting in 2002, and beyond. We believe that a synthesis of reviewed and validated information on energy production and consumption patterns will be a valuable tool for energy planners at the regional and national levels, and for many other audiences as well.

Our energy future will largely depend on the actions not only of governments, but also regional alliances, the private sector, and civil society. For this reason, this assessment is the centrepiece of an outreach effort by UNDP, UNDESA, and WEC. This outreach includes regional dialogues, exchanges among developing countries and between developing and industrialised countries, and consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, including the private sector, which is not always brought into debates.

The World Energy Assessment represents a collaborative effort involving the three founding organisations, 12 convening lead authors, and the teams of experts they assembled. Drafts of the report were sent out to a wide audience of experts and government representatives for review and consultation. This review included a special Advisory Panel meeting, an electronic posting, and consultations at the local, regional, and global levels, as well as with non-governmental organisations. The Editorial Board considered the content of the chapters at six meetings over the course of 16 months. Whereas the overview reflects the combined judgement and scrutiny of the Editorial Board, each chapter is the responsibility of its convening lead author.