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Access to modern and sustainable energy services is vital for satisfying basic human needs and is a prerequisite for growing prosperity in a green economy. Yet more than 1.3 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity and 2.7 billion rely on traditional biomass for cooking. This is why energy is among the key target areas of EU assistance, as outlined in the Agenda for Change presented in October 2011.

What's On

  Sustainable Energy for All

The European Union is championing access to sustainable energy for all. Welcoming the United Nations' rallying call in the framework of the UN´s Year of Sustainable Energy for All, it has set out an ambitious agenda to help achieve this key objective by 2030. On 16th April 2012, the European Union organised a Sustainable Energy for All summit, gathering high-ranking decision-makers to engage the development community to achieve the Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

More information on the Sustainable Energy for All Summit

The challenge

Energy poverty is a pressing global issue, and tackling it is key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals:

  • One fifth of the global population lacks access to electricity, and two in three families live without electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Around 2.7 billion people depend on traditional biomass for cooking. 2.5 million women and young children in developing countries die prematurely each year from breathing the fumes from indoor biomass stoves according to the World Health Organisation.
  • On average, per capita electricity consumption in developing countries is barely one tenth of the consumption in the EU. If everyone consumed as much oil as the average European, world oil resources would soon be depleted.
  • Limited global fossil fuel resources and global climate change which is hitting many of the poorest countries first and hardest require a shift to sustainable energy production based on renewables and energy-efficiency.

Taking up this challenge is not only vital to improving living conditions and reducing preventable deaths, but will also fuel prosperity in an inclusive green economy, reduce environmental damage, slow-down climate change and resource exhaustion.

Expertise and funding

In October 2011, the Commission adopted the Agenda for Change, a Communication outlining how the impact of development policy could be increased over the coming years. In the field of energy, the document defines three main areas for action:

  • price volatility and energy security;
  • climate change, including access to low carbon technologies; and
  • access to secure, affordable, clean and sustainable energy services.

To achieve progress in these areas, the EU provides support by making expertise as well as funding available.

Long-term partnerships with developing countries based on mutual accountability and political dialogue provide the framework for achieving tangible progress and sustainable results.

More on EU energy policies and programmes for developing countries

Building on results

As the largest contributor of official development aid worldwide, the EU has been supporting energy access, sustainability and security in the framework of its development cooperation for years.

For instance, between 2007 and 2011, 15 million beneficiaries in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries have been provided with access to modern energy services thanks to the ACP¨-EU Energy Facility.

In 2010 only, the Commission committed a total of €319.49 million for energy generation and supply.

The EU uses various methods of aid delivery to support energy in developing countries, combining geographical and thematic instruments.

As sustainable energy services have a strong multiplier effect on developing countries' economies and contribute to environmental protection, energy aspects are mainstreamed in many other fields of the EU's development policy to maximise their impact.

Regional Cooperation


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Last update: 04/12/2012 | Top