Seven SEforALL 2019 highlights


Our calendars will soon flip to 2020 and we will enter the final decade for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG7 calling for affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. In 2019, Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) acted to ensure that stakeholders in the SDG7 movement are aligned and committed to the pivotal issues and areas required for delivering universal access to sustainable energy in the next ten years. With the help of our partners, we continued to provide data and evidence to inform decision-makers and create platforms for collaboration on SDG7 targets. Here are seven highlights from 2019.

1. The 2019 SEforALL Charrettes

The release of Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report 2019 revealed a clear lack of progress on SDG7, with 840 million people in the world lacking electricity access and almost 3 billion without clean cooking.

Considering these numbers, SEforALL organized a unique event to help catalyze disruptive solutions. For the 2019 SEforALL Charrettes, held in Amsterdam from 18-20 June, a purposeful list of participants from diverse backgrounds was invited to participate in intensive, two-day interactive sessions, with each charrette focused on a different issue on the critical path to delivering SDG7.

Using design-thinking, each charrette group focused their efforts on one of four areas of inquiry: private sector-led market for clean cooking, data and evidence for securing electricity access, bridging the electricity access financing gap and funding for last-mile electricity access.

By the end of the event, each charrette produced at least two disruptive solutions with participants committing to work on developing these ideas further.

A full description of the event and the solutions generated can be found in the 2019 SEforALL Charrettes Report. Or you can catch a glimpse of how it transpired by watching our Charrettes video.

2. Damilola Ogunbiyi named new CEO

2019 saw a change in SEforALL’s leadership as former CEO Rachel Kyte stepped down from her role at the end of September.

The SEforALL Administrative Board conducted a global search for a new leader, and on 29 October it was announced that Damilola Ogunbiyi will succeed Kyte as CEO and as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy.

Previously, Ogunbiyi was the Managing Director of the Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency (REA), where her work focused on mobilizing the stakeholders and finance needed for delivering energy access to people and communities that need it most.

Speaking about the appointment, António Mexia, Chairman of the SEforALL Administrative Board and CEO of Energias de Portugal (EDP), said “Damilola is the right leader at the right time. She has the experience, track record, and passion for sustainable development to catalyze progress, scale energy access, and lead SEforALL with ambition and impact.”

Ogunbiyi will take up these roles on 1 January 2020.

3. Marshalling evidence on energy access finance

For the third consecutive year, SEforALL published new research under its Energizing Finance research series. The series consists of in-depth primary research and analysis by SEforALL and partners that examines supply and demand for finance across two key areas of energy access: electricity and clean cooking.

Two reports were published this year, Understanding the Landscape 2019 and Taking the Pulse 2019, with both illuminating trends in financial commitments that can make or break SDG7 success. Understanding the Landscape 2019 showed how in 20 countries with the highest energy access deficits, tracked finance for residential electricity access was just a quarter of the estimated USD 51 billion required to meet universal access. Meanwhile, an annual investment of USD 4.4 billion is required to close clean cooking access gaps, yet only USD 32 million in finance commitments for clean cooking solutions were tracked.

SEforALL presented these findings at several key events throughout the fall, including the World Bank meetings and at COP25, using this evidence as an urgent call for action by financiers, governments and the private sector to invest in electricity and clean cooking.

4. UN Climate Action Summit

SEforALL was a co-lead on the Energy Transition Track at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, along with the governments of Ethiopia and Denmark and the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit Team.

As a co-lead, SEforALL helped organize the Energy Action Forum held the day prior to the summit. The Forum saw the launch of the Climate Investment Platform as a new global public good aiming to increase the flow of capital in developing countries to meet climate ambitions.

The following day, at the Climate Action Summit, SEforALL helped launch the Three Percent Club, which is a coalition of countries, businesses and institutions committed to a three percent annual global increase in energy efficiency across their economies and businesses, a target necessary to meet global climate goals while enhancing economic prosperity in all countries.

Additional initiatives supported by SEforALL and unveiled during the forum and summit included the Cool Coalition and the Getting to Zero Coalition.

5. Elevating sustainable cooling

In 2018, SEforALL published its first Chilling Prospects report detailing the scale and importance of the global cooling challenge: how to protect billions of people from rising temperatures while managing overall energy demands.

Since then, SEforALL has built huge momentum in bringing this issue to the forefront of the energy transition debate. In January 2019, SEforALL launched the Cooling for All Secretariat, which promotes awareness of the need for universal access to cooling, provide data and knowledge about the issue, and help coordinate focused responses. The Secretariat is guided by the Global Panel on Access to Cooling—a group of leaders from business, philanthropy, policy and academia.

SEforALL also produced Chilling Prospects: Tracking Sustainable Cooling for All 2019 to serve as a status update to the inaugural edition. As part of the update, the 2019 report introduced a Cooling for All Needs Assessment tool that allows governments, NGOs and development institutions to accurately size the market for cooling demands based on comfort, safety, nutrition and health needs.

6. Integrating efforts on SDGs

SEforALL consistently stresses the enabling role of sustainable energy for achieving other SDGs, including those on health, gender equality, climate, clean water and sanitation, and more. In 2019, we worked to integrate efforts on SDGs in a variety of ways.

In April, SEforALL co-published a report titled Lasting Impact: Sustainable Off-Grid Solar Delivery Models to Power Health and Education to help decision-makers in the public and private sectors design delivery models for reliable off-grid electrification projects for rural schools and health centers.

Keeping with the intersection of energy and health, this year’s Seven for 7 event, developed in partnership with Ashden, profiled seven leaders whose energy-focused work is improving the health and well-being of people in their communities.

The merger of the UN Foundation’s Energy Access Program into SEforALL in August was a keep step for strengthening our focus on these nexus issues by bringing over personnel dedicated to our Energy and Health, Energy for Displaced People, and Gender work.

7. New strategies for electrification

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 573 million people without electricity access. One of the major aims of our Electricity for All in Africa work is to help countries and regions develop new strategies for tackling their electricity access gaps.

As part of this effort, in June 2019 we published Integrated Electrification Pathways for Universal Access to Electrification: A Primer as a practical tool for facilitating government and private sector efforts to develop national electrification plans taking a full-systems approach.

Complementing the report was a series of videos illustrated the concept of Integrated Electrification Pathways, including three case studies for Ethiopia, Togo and Nepal, as well as a summary video, which you can watch below.

Prior to the release of the report and videos, SEforALL’s emphasis on integrated planning was already having an impact on policy. In April, Ministers from 39 African countries assembled for a meeting organized by the African Union Commission (AUC) in Cairo adopted a recommendation presented by SEforALL on integrated approaches to national electrification.

We look forward to building on these 2019 successes and working with both current and new partners on the push towards SDG7 in the year and decade to come.