Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Goal 7 aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Sustainable energy is a critical enabler and dramatically improves the quality, accessibility and reliability of services that children rely on for their survival, development and well-being. In homes, for example, children need reliable access to modern lighting for their daily chores and to do homework after dark. And they need heating and cooling to stay comfortable. Health centres and schools require energy for lighting, operating medical devices and life-saving procedures, cooking, heating, cooling and digital connectivity. Low levels of electricity access are correlated with poor educational performance, lower attendance and a decreased ability to attract and maintain teachers.

Sustainable energy measures provide considerable benefits in reducing indoor air pollution and related health risks, particularly for children. Indoor air pollution, largely caused by the burning of solid fuels, contributes to over half a million deaths of children under 5. Even more will suffer lasting damage to their developing brains and lungs.

UNICEF’s contribution towards reaching this goal centres on working with partners to support sustainable energy, by providing solar lighting for schools, solar pumps in communities vulnerable to droughts and floods, and other off-grid energy solutions that improve children’s learning and health. Energy-related data on the sectors most relevant to children is scarce, specifically the health- and education sectors as well as infrastructure such as transport. Disaggregated data on children and their access to and benefits from energy is even scarcer, which also applies to specific data on access to sustainable energy. Collecting and disaggregating these data are vital to understanding how and where children are being left behind in the context of energy access.

Child-related SDG indicators

TARGET 7.1 By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services

Key asks

UNICEF has one key ask of governments to help reach Goal 7: UNICEF encourages countries to include children in policies and investments related to sustainable energy. UNICEF encourages governments conducting a Voluntary National Review to ensure their reports are:

1) Informed by relevant, disaggregated data, including on children.

2) Linked to national plans, budgets and accountability frameworks.

3) Inclusive of children’s voices on SDG issues, for instance through conducting consultations with children and youth.

Learn more about UNICEF’s key asks for implementing Goal 7