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close this bookEnergy as it relates to Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Protection (UNDP, 1998, 36 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPoverty and Environment Initiative Publications
View the documentPreface
View the documentIntroduction
close this folderKey Energy Issues as They Relate to Poverty and Environment
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentInefficient and environmentally harmful energy use
View the documentFirst-cost effect generates poverty-energy-environment lock-in
View the documentFor the poorest of the poor, small improvements in commercial energy services produce large welfare benefits
View the documentConventional energy paradigm contributes to perpetuation of poverty
close this folderEnvironmental problems such as urban air pollution and climate change affect people living in poverty more directly due to current patterns of energy usage
View the documentUrban air pollution
View the documentClimate Change
View the documentInordinate expenditure on energy
View the documentDesigning Sustainable Energy1 Policies for Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Protection
close this folderRemaining Challenges
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSubsidies for conventional fuels distort the markets
View the documentPricing does not reflect externalities
View the documentTheft and pilferage
View the documentOutmoded policy
View the documentLack of coordination in decision-making
View the documentLobbies supporting conventional energy
View the documentLack of information
View the documentLack of skills
View the documentLack of initiative
close this folderExamples of Sustainable Energy Strategies that Simultaneously Address Poverty and Environment Concerns
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentImproved cookstoves and modern fuels
View the documentRural electrification - decentralised options
View the documentImproved urban transportation
View the documentModernised biomass
View the documentConclusions
View the documentReferences


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.