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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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Chair, World Energy Assessment

Energy is central to achieving the interrelated economic, social, and environmental aims of sustainable human development. But if we are to realise this important goal, the kinds of energy we produce and the ways we use them will have to change. Otherwise, environmental damage will accelerate, inequity will increase, and global economic growth will be jeopardised.

We cannot simply ignore the energy needs of the 2 billion people who have no means of escaping continuing cycles of poverty and deprivation. Nor will the local, regional, and global environmental problems linked to conventional ways of using energy go away on their own. Other challenges confront us as well: the high prices of energy supplies in many countries, the vulnerability to interruptions in supply, and the need for more energy services to support continued development.

The World Energy Assessment affirms that solutions to these urgent problems are possible, and that the future is much more a matter of choice than destiny By acting now to embrace enlightened policies, we can create energy systems that lead to a more equitable, environmentally sound, and economically viable world.

But changing energy systems is no simple matter. It is a complex and long-term process - one that will require major and concerted efforts by governments, businesses, and members of civil society. Consensus on energy trends and needed changes in energy systems can accelerate this process.

The World Energy Assessment was undertaken, in part, to build consensus on how we can most effectively use energy as a tool for sustainable development. Its analysis shows that we need to do more to promote energy efficiency and renewables, and to encourage advanced technologies that offer alternatives for clean and safe energy supply and use. We also need to help developing countries find ways to avoid retracing the wasteful and destructive stages that have characterised industrialisation in the past.

Considerable work by many individuals went into this publication, and my hope is that it contributes to a more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable world.