The Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report provides a comprehensive look at the world’s progress towards global energy targets on access to electricity, clean cooking, renewable energy and energy efficiency. The report is published annually by agencies that hold custody of SDG 7 indicators, namely: the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the UN Statistics Division (UNSD) at UN DESA, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Policy Briefs were published by the SDG7 Technical Advisory Group, and provide a special focus on the interlinkages of SDG7 with all other SDGs.

On 7th June 2021, stakeholders from across the globe gathered virtually for the launch of the Tracking SDG7 Report and the SDG 7 Policy Briefs. It is anticipated that deliberations during this event will inform discussions during the High-level Political Forum in July, the High-level Dialogue on Energy in September, the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs, and the implementation of the UN Decade of Action.

Key findings

  • As anticipated, the report acknowledges that the world is not on track to achieve SDG 7 and that gains in energy access throughout Africa are being reversed despite showing incredible resilience from effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also revealed stark inequalities in energy access particularly in peri urban and rural areas. Due to the pandemic, closing the access gap will become increasingly challenging, and, the report indicates that the balance between affordability and financial viability required to leave no one behind will not be easy to find. Key findings are shown in the infographic.
  • Covid-19 recovery strategies have been seen as unlikely opportunities to deploy clean energy technologies due to the low base lending rates that have been adopted by central banks to support economic growth in addition to recovery strategies that utilize existing skills to support clean energy transitions. This, however, has been seen in advanced economies.
  • On a positive note, in Sub Saharan Africa, access to electricity outstripped population growth between 2017 and 2019. Nine out of twenty countries with the largest populations lacking access to electricity kept pace with population growth between 2010 and 2019. There are major disparities in urban vs. rural access to electricity that are observable but electrification through decentralized renewables-based solutions has advanced significantly since 2010. Despite the progress, the world may still fall short of 100 percent access to electricity by 2030 and this is further compounded by the Covid-19 crisis.
  • In the clean cooking sector, the top 20 access-deficit countries accounted for 81 percent of the global population without access to clean fuels and technologies between 2015 to 2019, with an urban-rural access discrepancy that has, fortunately, been declining. Among all the SDG 7 targets, clean cooking presents the greatest cause for concern owing to its slow progress with the report recommending the need to scale up investment.
  • The electricity sector is identified as having the fastest progress in renewable energy consumption with hydropower as the fastest source, followed by wind and solar PV. It further recommends comprehensive policy packages that combine efficiency and renewable energy sources while phasing out the use of fossil fuels. The report notes that for the first time in 2018, a majority of new renewable electricity capacity was installed in developing countries. In terms of renewable energy supply per region, sub-Saharan Africa has the largest share of renewable energy sources yet more than 85% of its population continue to use traditional biomass which has negative effects on health and the environment.

The commendable report reiterates that good-quality data are vital for informed policy making at country, regional, and international levels and is made possible through national and international cooperation. To this end, ACCESS commits to:

  • Facilitating adequate capture of data, statistics and experiences of SDG 7 implementation by CSOs through tools like the Voluntary National Reviews of the High-Level Political Forum and Energy Compacts made possible by the High-Level Dialogue on Energy. In addition, ACCESS will ensure that CSO and community experiences are shared in different multi-stakeholder dialogues at national, regional and international levels towards integrated, inclusive policy-making that contributes to the achievement of other SDGs while leaving no one behind.
  • Socializing the Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy Toolkit to CSOs, particularly those based in Sub Saharan Africa, so that they are be able to contribute to policy making initiatives in their respective countries.