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A new EU energy initiative which will provide access to sustainable energy for an additional 500 million people in developing countries by 2030 has been announced by European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso

Speaking at the EU Sustainable Energy for All Summit in Brussels, the President unveiled this EU commitment in the framework of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4All) launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last year.

The Commission's proposals include a new EU Technical Assistance Facility worth €50 million over the next two years, which will support those developing partners that "opt in" to the initiative by providing EU expertise in the field; thereby promoting sustainable development and inclusive growth.

President Barroso also emphasized that in the run-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio in June, the "Rio+20" conference, the EU and Member States will look to mobilise additional support of up to several hundred million euros to support concrete new investments in sustainable energy for developing countries – working with banks and the private sector to create a leverage effect to multiply this amount many times over. As the largest provider of development assistance in the world, the EU plays a crucial role in efforts to end energy poverty around the globe.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said:

"The link between energy and development is fundamental. Without energy access, we simply will not meet the Millennium Development Goals. That's why we've organised today's summit – we are committed to the aim of providing universal access to sustainable energy for all by 2030. By bringing together our partners, the private sector and civil society, we will work shoulder to shoulder to make this aim a reality.

With today's strong pledge that we will assist developing countries in providing energy access for 500 million people by 2030, we are demonstrating our own commitment and hope that others will join us in making sure that by 2030, energy access is no longer a privilege but the right of all."

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said:

"I welcome the commitment by the European Commission in support of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Its strong leadership in making energy central to its development policies, and for advancing the issue of energy access, helps place energy at the forefront of the global development agenda.”

The new EU "Energising Development" initiative will also focus on expanding and improving EU innovative financial instruments to make sure that the billions of Euros that they leverage result in real change on the ground. This could include, for example, support to develop public-private partnerships on energy access in developing countries or setting up risk guarantee schemes in developing countries with a bank. This could potentially result in substantial investments, as it would provide investors with some assurance that their money is secure.

Today, one in five people lives without access to electricity and the opportunities and security it provides for working, healthcare, learning and running a business. Up to two million people a year die of respiratory diseases due to indoor air pollution caused by cooking with unclean fuels.

The EU is the world's leading donor on energy. In the recent Agenda for Change Communication in which the EU Commission sets out the bases for a reinforced development policy, energy was confirmed as one of its key priorities. The European Commission alone has spent around €1 billion over the last five years on improving the state of the energy sector in developing countries, including efforts to increase access to modern energy services. It has focused on all elements of energy policies, from electricity to governance and regulation, from improved technology to clean cooking and energy efficiency.

Through the ACP-EU Energy Facility - set up to give poor people in developing countries access to sustainable energy - the EU has been involved in more than 130 projects in ACP countries, bringing modern energy services to between 12 and 13 million people worldwide.

A powerful example of its success is the PAMENU project in Uganda - set up to provide access to basic energy services to rural households, social institutions and small and medium-sized enterprises. With just a small budget, the project has succeeded in extending modern energy services to more than a million people and providing almost 200,000 households with improved cooking stoves.

Written by Scott Buckler
Tuesday, 17 April 2012 9:09

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