The overall goal of SDG 7 is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential.
Working towards this goal is especially important as it interlinks with other Sustainable Development Goals on which SDG 7 can have a direct impact on improvement. Focusing on universal access to energy, increased energy efficiency and the increased use of renewable energy through new economic and job opportunities is crucial to creating more sustainable and inclusive communities and resilience to environmental issues like climate change.
Currently there are approximately 3 billion people who lack access to clean cooking solutions and are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution. Additionally, slightly less than 1 billion people are functioning without electricity and 50% of them are found in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. Fortunately, progress has been made in the past decade regarding the use of renewable electricity from water, solar and wind power and the ratio of energy used per unit of GDP is also declining.
The global challenge however is far from being solved and there needs to be more access to clean fuel and technology and more progress needs to be made regarding integrating renewable energy into end-use applications in buildings, transport and industry. An important focus are regulatory frameworks and innovative business models that will contribute to transforming the world’s energy systems.
Access to electricity
The proportion of the global population with access to electricity increased steadily, from 79% in 2000 to 85% in 2012. Recent progress was driven largely by advancements in Southern Asia, South-Eastern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite these improvements, 1.1 billion people are still without this essential service. In particular, over 65% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa are living without electricity. Of those gaining access to electricity worldwide since 2010, the vast majority (80%) are urban dwellers.
From 2005 to 2014, the proportion of the global population with access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking, such as gas and electricity, increased from 54% to 58%. Advancements have been slow in some regions, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, where access remains very low.
Limited progress since 2010 falls substantially short of global population growth and is almost exclusively confined to urban areas. As a result, the absolute number of people relying on polluting fuels and technologies, such as solid fuels and kerosene, for cooking has actually increased, reaching an estimated 3 billion people.
What does this mean and what does this look like?
As can be seen on the graph above Oceania is a region where access to electricity and clean cooking fuels can still be improved. Among the countries with low rates is Papua New Guinea. It is an extremely geographically diverse part of the world with beautiful coral reefs and beaches, as well as rainforest and mountains and is one of the least densely populated countries in the world.
The proportion of Papua New Guinea‘s population with access to electricity increased from 11% in 1996 to 54.43% in 2017, with stark differences between urban and rural areas. And only 12 % of the population relied primarily on clean fuels and technology.
Now, the country’s western extremity is located along the border to Indonesia as can be seen on the following image. And in Indonesia (in green), the figures are quite different.
There the proportion of the population with access to electricity reached 98.14% in 2017 and 65% of the population relied primarily on clean fuels and technology.
Differences that can also be observed depending on who is telling the story and what the aim of this story is. When it comes to the SDGs, there is still much to be done, but when we look at Papua New Guinea as a country rich in culture and magical landscapes, we might forget its challenges and just take it for heaven on earth.
Both realities coexist, but if we really want to achieve Sustainable Development, we should find a way of combining both realities to ensure wellbeing for all.
SDGs in Papua New Guinea
Tourism in Papua New Guinea