Open-access publication examines energy access as key to poverty reduction

Energy Policy journal publishes a free supplement on universal access to energy with the support of the UN Development Programme

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Henri van Dorssen

Henri van Dorssen joined Elsevier from Reed in 1994 after the companies merged. Based in Oxford, he is Executive Publisher for the Energy portfolio. He has been working in the energy field since 2002 and has launched several publications, including the award-winning Encyclopedia of Energy (a 6-volume major reference work published in 2004), the Dictionary of Energy (2005), and the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control (2007). Since 2009, he has been collaborating with Reed Exhibitions on the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, a global annual conference and exhibition in renewable energy. He is currently overseeing the launch of a new peer-reviewed quarterly journal titled Energy Strategy Reviews.

Energy Policy supplement

Today, 1.4 billion people around the world still lack access to electricity, while, 2.7 billion people rely on solid fuels, such as biomass and coal, for cooking and heating. These situations are important indicators of “energy poverty.”

Modern energy services have a profound effect on productivity, health, education, climate, food and water security, and communication services.

By designating 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the importance of energy for sustainable development.

“Achieving sustainable energy for all is not only possible, but necessary,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June. “It is the golden thread that connects development, social inclusion and environmental protection.”

The lack of access to energy forms a major impediment to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Encounter at conference sparks an idea

Last year, the Vienna Energy Forum 2011 drew more than 1,200 participants from 125 countries, including heads of state, policymakers, experts, and representatives from government and industry. There, a discussion of universal energy access caught the attention of the two people involved in the publication of Energy Policy, “the international journal of the political, economic, planning, environmental and social aspects of energy,” published by Elsevier.

Leena Srivastava, PhD

In a session on defining and measuring energy access, board member Dr. Leena Srivastava, Executive Director of The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, described a large study of rural households in India.

Afterwards, she was approached by Elsevier Executive Publisher Henri van Dorssen, and the two forged the idea of a sponsored issue on “energy access and poverty” in Energy Policy.

Dr. Srivastava gained the support of the UN Development Programme Environment and Energy Group in New York, which appointed a special advisor to facilitate the project, enabling TERI to sign an agreement for the publication project with Elsevier. The UNDP assisted in engaging Dr. Youba Sokona, Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as the second guest editor.

Youba Sokona

Dr. Srivastava and Dr. Sokona, two of the world’s foremost energy access experts, then invited a dozen leading experts on South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa – areas with the largest concentrations of “energy poor” – to write papers based on their knowledge and experience of energy access, while highlighting the key challenges they have encountered.

After they reviewed the outline and contents with the editor of Energy Policy, the papers were peer-reviewed and revised where needed according to the rigorous standards of the journal.

To ensure publication ahead of the Rio +20 conference, an intensive work schedule was adopted, and the publication was planned as a supplement rather than a journal issue.[note color="#f1f9fc" position="left" width=400]

What needs to be done?

Authors recommended addressing the following issues in order to meet the goal of providing universal access to modern energy services:

  • The need to step up efforts to develop and disseminate clean and convenient energy technologies for the poor.
  • The recognition that the energy access challenge also plagues populations above the poverty line as it is defined.
  • The importance of framework conditions: delivery mechanisms, adequacy of supplies, pricing, regulatory frameworks, measurement, access to energy using technologies in addressing the challenge of energy access.
  • The importance of measuring the outcomes of energy access programs in an accountable manner.
  • The need to recognize the impact of sociocultural and geographical diversity on energy consumption patterns.

It involved collaboration among the journal editor, guest editors, and Elsevier employees in journal production, sales and marketing communications, facilitated by the UNDP special advisor and coordinated by the publisher.

In the foreword, Veerle Vandeweerd, Director or the UNDP Environment and Energy Group, Bureau for Development Policy, states:

The fundamental premise of this Special Report published by Elsevier is to provide a series of analytically informed papers focussed on key issues associated with energy access for the poor. This report is the unique outcome of collaboration amongst experts focussed on addressing key issues emanating from Africa and Asia, two regions of the world where the lack of access to energy cripples the daily lives of the poor.

Vandeweerd said she hopes this report “will serve as a global catalyst to promote analyses, dialogue and dissemination of innovative policies, assessments, tools and modalities that address energy access for the poor in a manner that is directly relevant to the needs and concerns of developing countries.”

Elsevier and UNDP are collaborating on further outreach to raise awareness of this publication.[note color="#f1f9fc" position="center" width=800 margin=10]

How to Access the Supplement

“Universal Access to Energy: Getting the Framework Right” has been distributed in print and is also available online on ScienceDirect as Energy Policy Volume 47, Supplement 1, Pages 1-94, with free access supported with a grant from the UNDP.

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3 Archived Comments

idalina isabel de morais guimaraes October 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm


Markos December 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm

It is of great help to the poor countries.



Markos December 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Really it is very helpful to get such kind of documents.

With regards

Markos Ayele


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