Ban Ki-moon, the eighth United Nations Secretary-General has a powerful assertion that where sustainable development is concerned, “There can be no Plan B, because there is no Planet B”. This very sobering fact underscores the reasons for which the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), were crafted and drives the global agenda for change. Further accentuating these goals, is the need for conservation and sustainable use of energy without which, achievement of the SDGs will be an exercise in tiresome endeavor.

A closer look at each one of the SDGs reveals that energy in its diverse nature and form, provides a good leverage for implementation and achievement of the requirements, across the 194 member states that are signatory to the resolution that is so aptly represented by the agenda title  “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”

# Sustainable Development Goal The Role of Energy in Goal Achievement
Goal 1

End poverty in all its forms everywhere


Access to cost effective sources of energy for heating, lighting and fuel, has a direct impact on the socio- economic well-being of communities. Every effort must be made to enhance the use of sustainable energy forms for the good of mankind
Goal 2

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture Energy has since time immemorial been a key aspect required for food production. There cannot be discussion on sustainable agriculture without putting in place systems to ensure farm energy is clean and safe. Renewable energy technologies in farming are of the essence.
Goal 3

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages Renewable energy projects and energy efficiency initiatives have direct health benefits. The shift away from fossil fuels to alternative sources of energy, helps reduce l emissions of harmful gases that jeopardize human health including nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide.
Goal 4

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all In the developing world, student performance is directly proportional to the availability of rural electrification projects. The need for adequate lighting for study remains a key differentiator between the rural and urban poor, and their counterparts living in what is now known as energy abundance. Until this gap is bridged, the effects of scarcity continue to bite.
Goal 5

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls Women and girls especially in Africa’s urban low income settlements and rural villages, are charged with the responsibility to source for cooking energy. This has a direct impact on school going girls, and women involved in entrepreneurial activities who divide their time between their core engagements, and the search for cooking fuel. There is a serious need to bridge the energy poverty divide.
Goal 6

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all Water is life; it takes water to produce energy, and energy to ensure water provision for domestic and industrial use. The two are interconnected. It requires a significant amount of energy to ensure water is pumped and transported from source to destination and the conservation and prudent used of water and energy, require the same mindset.
Goal 7

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all The case for a simple clear return on investment for a better, cleaner, safer world could never be more clearly outlined, than by the call to action to advocate for effective development of energy resources in the continent. Every country in the world needs to ensure the energy agenda is given top priority, to steer away from destruction, and leave the world a better place for future generations.
Goal 8

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all The energy sector continues to grow worldwide, with new and innovative energy projects dominating investment platforms. It is widely recognized as well that sustainable use of energy will drive the economy and provide solutions to alleviate poverty and ensure green growth. With growth comes the opportunities for economic empowerment and a sustained future.
Goal 9

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation The industrial revolution of the late 1700s that exploded and revolutionized industry, relied heavily on fossil fuels whose insatiable use to date has created environmental emergencies worldwide. With some countries much more affected than others, it is imperative that the world moves speedily into a green industry heist to counter the effects of unsustainable energy use of the past.
Goal 10

Reduce inequality within and among countries Access to stable and consistent electricity from renewable and non-renewable sources remains disparate world over, with some countries far ahead of their counterparts in technology and management.  The need to find a balance and to have standardized solutions that level the energy playing field is every energy engineers dream. More energy financing to fund initiatives to drive change remains a desperate cry.
Goal 11

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable Resilient and sustainable habitats worldwide be they rural or urban, can only be adequately described as such, if they run on an energy base that is clean and well managed. Energy safety includes discussions on physical and environmental safety, as well as safety from direct risk and danger from interaction with electrical power. Every government should ensure their countries’ energy policy is watertight enough to address these concerns.
Goal 12

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns Manufacturing energy use is recorded as a huge consumer of energy resources. With companies increasingly taking the conservation conversation seriously, initiatives to use and generate surplus energy for distribution is high, with a main focus to ensure higher energy efficiencies and to control production costs. If what are commonly known as “Industrial Areas” turned around their energy culture and focused on best practice – this goal would come alive.
Goal 13

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts There is no discussion on climate change that can be held without mention of energy. The two are synonymous. Energy production and use worldwide has a significant effect on the environment irrespective of if it is from renewable or non-renewable sources.

There needs to be reconciliation between the global energy needs and the climate change agenda.

Goal 14

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development Marine energy is an emerging energy topic that is being discussed with a view to tapping wave and tidal energy, as well as salinity and temperature differences. There is ongoing research with a view to generating electricity from this alternative source. This solution promises to provide a new option for renewable energy and is slated to change the world energy outlook.
Goal 15

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss History has proven over and over that man’s irrational use of bio-energy has not only set the world on a climate change course that requires re-setting, but also led to massive loss of green cover in nature. The rate of forest logging especially in Africa is not commensurate with the replacement efforts. Each nation needs to rework their energy policy to include the pursuance of energy solutions that do not damage the order of nature
Goal 16

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels It is said that the next world war will be fought over water. The LA Times goes on to indicate that the hypothesis says that increased water shortages around the world will lead to war between states. Hydro power is produced in over 150 countries and the need for peace and inclusivity especially over natural resources needs to be cultivated.
Goal 17

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development The energy fight cannot be fought alone. The excellent efforts in one nation can in one fell swoop fall to insignificance from the damaging impacts of another. The world is one unit, united by a common bond of humanity. Every action that has an equal and opposite reaction, rings true in the energy spheres. It is in partnership and goodwill that the battle can be won, with every soldier donning their helmet of energy peace and their armor of energy prudence for all.


The role of energy in achievement of the SDGs is significant and should not be taken lightly and its importance is very well summed up in the quote by Jimmy Carter “Every act of energy conservation is more than just common sense; It is an act of patriotism”.


Carolyne Gathuru,

Strategy and Branding – Eenovators Limited

1 Comment

  1. Complementing these objectives with a practical dimension, the study will then identify good practices in Member States while taking into consideration their national contexts, and develop recommendations about the energy policy beyond 2014 for the EU institutions and for Members States, particularly with a view on the upcoming 2030 policy package.

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