GOAL 7: AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY
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
By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services
Proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology
Cooking, lighting and heating represent a large share of household energy use across the low- and middle-income countries. For cooking and heating, households typically rely on solid fuels (such as wood, charcoal, biomass) or kerosene paired with inefficient technologies (e.g. open fires, stoves, space heaters or lamps). It is well known that reliance on such inefficient energy for cooking, heating and lighting is associated with high levels of household (indoor) air pollution. The use of inefficient fuels for cooking alone is estimated to cause over 4 million deaths annually, mainly among women and children. This is more than TB, HIV and malaria combined. These adverse health impacts can be avoided by adopting clean fuels and technologies for all main household energy end-or in some circumstances by adopting advanced combustion cook stoves (i.e. those which achieve the emission rates targets provided by the WHO guidelines) and adopting strict protocols for their safe use. Given the importance of clean and safe household energy use as a human development issue, universal access to energy among the technical practitioner community is currently taken to mean access to both electricity and clean fuels and technologies for cooking, heating and lighting. For this reason, clean cooking forms part of the universal access objective under the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
Proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology is calculated as the number of people using clean fuels and technologies for cooking, heating and lighting divided by total population reporting that any cooking, heating or lighting, expressed as percentage. “Clean” is defined by the emission rate targets and specific fuel recommendations (i.e. against unprocessed coal and kerosene) included in the normative guidance WHO guidelines for indoor air quality: household fuel combustion.
Current global data collection focuses on the primary fuel used for cooking, categorized as solid or non- solid fuels, where solid fuels are considered polluting and non-modern, while non-solid fuels are considered clean. This single measure captures a good part of the lack of access to clean cooking fuels, but fails to collect data on type of device or technology is used for cooking, and also fails to capture other polluting forms of energy use in the home such as those used for lighting and heating.
New evidence-based normative guidance from the WHO (i.e. WHO Guidelines for indoor air quality guidelines: household fuel combustion), highlights the importance of addressing both fuel and the technology for adequately protecting public health. These guidelines provide technical recommendations in the form of emissions targets for as to what fuels and technology (stove, lamp, and so on) combinations in the home are clean. These guidelines also recommend against the use of unprocessed coal and discourage the use kerosene (a non-solid but highly polluting fuel) in the home. They also recommend that all major household energy end uses (e.g. cooking, space heating, lighting) use efficient fuels and technology combinations to ensure health benefits.
For this reason, the technical recommendations in the WHO guidelines, access to modern cooking solution in the home will be defined as “access to clean fuels and technologies” rather than “access to non-solid fuels.” This shift will help ensure that health and other “nexus” benefits are better counted, and thus realized.
The indicator is modelled with household survey data compiled by WHO. The information on cooking fuel use and cooking practices comes from about 1300 nationally representative survey and censuses. Survey sources include Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Living Standards Measurement Surveys (LSMS), Multi-Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), the World Health Survey (WHS), and other nationally developed and implemented surveys.
Estimates of primary cooking energy for the total, urban and rural population for a given country and year are obtained together using a single multivariate hierarchical model. Using household survey data as inputs, the model jointly estimates primary reliance on 6 specific fuel types: 1. unprocessed biomass (e.g. wood), 2. charcoal, 3. coal, 4. kerosene, 5. gaseous fuels (e.g. LPG), and 6. electricity; and a final category including other clean fuels (e.g. alcohol). Estimates of the proportion of the population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology (SDG indicator 7.1.2) are then derived by aggregating the estimates for primary reliance on clean fuel types from the model. Details on the model are published in Stoner et al. (2019).
Only survey data providing individual fuel breakdowns and with less than 15% of the population reporting “missing” and “no cooking” and “other fuels” were included in the analysis.
Countries with no household fuel data but classified as high-income according to the World Bank country classification (37 countries) were assumed to have fully transitioned to clean household energy and therefore are reported as >95% access to clean technologies.
No estimates were reported for low- and middle-income countries without data (Bulgaria, Cuba, Lebanon, Libya). Modelled specific fuel estimates were derived for 135 low- and middle-income countries and estimates of overall clean fuel use were reported for 190 countries.
The indicator uses the type of primary fuels and technologies used for cooking, heating, and lighting as a practical surrogate for estimating human exposure to household (indoor) air pollution and its related disease burden, as it is not currently possible to obtain nationally representative samples of indoor concentrations of criteria pollutants, such as fine particulate matter and carbon monoxide. However epidemiological studies provide a science-based evidence for establishing those estimates using these surrogates.
The indicator is based on the main type of fuel and technology used for cooking as cooking occupies the largest share of overall household energy needs. However, many households use more than one type of fuel and stove for cooking and, depending on climatic and geographical conditions, heating with polluting fuels can also be a contributor to household (indoor) air pollution levels. In addition, lighting with kerosene, a very polluting and hazardous fuel is also often used, and in some countries is the main fuel used for cooking.
While the existing global household survey evidence base provides a good starting point for tracking household energy access for cooking fuel, it also presents a number of limitations that will need to be addressed over time. Currently there is a limited amount of available data capturing the type of fuel and devices used in the home for heating and lighting. Accordingly WHO in cooperation with World Bank, and the Global Alliance for Clean Cook stoves, is leading a survey enhancement process with representatives from country statistical offices and national household surveying agencies (e.g. Demographic and Health Survey, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, Living Standards Measurement Survey) to better gather efficiently and harmoniously information on the fuels and technologies for cooking, heating and lighting. This process is currently in the piloting phase with expected rollout of the final household surveys questions (~6 questions in total) expected in the coming year. These few questions will replace and slightly expand the current set of questions commonly used on national multipurpose surveys to assess household energy.
Substantial progress has already been made toward developing and piloting a new methodology known as the Multi-Tier Framework for Measuring Energy Access (World Bank) which is able to capture the affordability and reliability of energy access explicitly referenced in the language of SDG7 and harnesses the normative guidance in the WHO guidelines to benchmark tiers of energy access. The methodology for the Multi-Tier Framework for Measuring Energy Access has already been published based on a broad consultative exercise and represents a consensus view across numerous international agencies working in the field. A first Global Energy Access Survey using this methodology has already been launched and is underway expecting to yield results by early 2017.
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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
See more Sustainable Development Goals
GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION
AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY
DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS
PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS