The UN's Sustainable Development Goals are 17 encompassing objectives meant to address the world's most pressing health, educational, social and economic issues by 2030. This month, the UN General Assembly, as well as many of the governing bodies behind the UN's SDGs, will be convening and we'll be breaking down a goal a day.
SDG #7: Affordable and Clean Energy
Progress has stalled in the global effort to offer equitable, affordable, and clean energy to the global community. 2012 to 2014 saw only a 0.3 percent increase in global electrical accessibility, and the share of energy coming from renewable sources increased by only 0.4 percent over the same period. A monumental shift in priorities will be required on all continents to insure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
The world will need to triple its investment in sustainable energy, and sustainability-based global agreements will need extra TLC to make this important goal a reality.
Without sustainable, health-conscious energy, families are limited in cooking and food preservation, children struggle to study in the evening, and the scope of business and economic opportunity is limited. And the way we get the energy to make these development tasks possible matter's a lot, too.
Energy accounts for 60 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, making it the single leading cause of global climate change. While the down payments on a global shift to sustainable and renewable energy sources may look steep, it's nothing compared to the continuing economic impact of climate change degradation, which could potentially decrease the global GDP by 20 percent by 2100.
The "You" Factor
You might have your own accessible energy source, but energy pollution and inaccessibility impacts the the global climate and economy in a way that's everyone's business. It's time to get involved.
Renewable World focuses on bringing sustainable energy systems to the poorest corners of the world, and provides training to make the projects sustainable for the long term. Renewable World works with community leaders and working groups to figure out what energy resources are most needed, and then works with the community to make sure these energy needs are met with sensitivity to the geographic location, that local governance is in place to support resource maintenance, and to make sure that youth and women's voices are fairly represented in related decision making.
"We never start a project unless it can be sustained," they say. We ensure that community members are trained in maintenance, that they can meet upkeep costs, and that energy is distributed fairly."
Grid Alternatives works with low income communities and housing providers to make renewable solar energy accessible to communities with the most to gain from free or low cost energy, but the most barrier to entry. The group also provides job training to stimulate economic growth, employment, and solar program sustainability across the communities they serve.
WRISE also takes a double-header, environmental and economic approach to sustainable energy with their Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy programs. The program provides, events, mentoring, and job search assistance to engage and support women in the sustainable energy sector, and training and education to inspire the next generation of sustainable energy leaders.
To learn more about the SDGs, head to the Goalkeepers site created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which highlights an event in New York City on September 19 and 20 that convenes activists, world leaders, and the public to share their successes and challenges in advancing the SDG agenda. And September 25 is a global day of action on the SDGs -- find an event or opportunity near you.