Based on On-the-Ground Experience of Hundreds of Practitioners

Rio de Janeiro (June 18, 2012) – The United Nations Foundation today released Energy Access Practitioner Network: Towards Achieving Universal Energy Access by 2030 – a set of recommendations based on international on-the-ground experience to provide electricity to the 1.3 billion people who still lack it.

The report focuses primarily on micro- and off-grid electricity solutions for households and communities. The International Energy Agency estimates that such solutions – not extension of the traditional power grid – will be needed for 60 percent of those who now lack electricity.

Members of the Practitioner Network who prepared the report say five areas are of particular importance – understanding the market, improving policy and regulatory frameworks, facilitating finance, advancing mini- and micro-grids, and improving standards and testing.

The report will inform governments, investors, the private sector, civil society organizations, social enterprises, the United Nations, and policymakers about the policy shifts and innovative business models that are needed to catalyze the sector and provide sustainable energy to the poorest communities, which suffer the most from not having access to high-quality, safe, and affordable energy services.

"For many years, the prevailing myth in the energy sector was that there were no cost-effective ways to extend energy infrastructure to very poor communities, and that renewable energy solutions were too expensive for the poor," said Richenda Van Leeuwen, the UN Foundation's Executive Director for Energy Access and coordinator of the Practitioner Network. "It's time to disprove that myth.

"These recommendations draw on the combined practical experience of people working on the front lines to deliver energy services in some 125 countries around the world," Van Leeuwen continued. "It highlights their challenges and opportunities, and a range of policy, financing and technical recommendations that will help communities and the customers they serve to get the development benefits in health, income generation, agriculture, education, gender equity, and environmental protection that modern energy services can provide."

The recommendations were prepared by the Energy Access Practitioner Network, a group that now numbers more than 500 international experts, representing a range of disciplines and organizations, participating in six Working Groups. The report came out of an almost two year-long highly participatory consultation process and reflects the viewpoint of the practitioners in the sector, the majority of which are small- and medium-sized enterprises, NGOs, and other companies.

The Energy Access Practitioner Network works in support of the UN Secretary-General's Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which calls for achieving three interrelated objectives by 2030: universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

About the Energy Access Practitioner Network:

The Energy Access Practitioner Network, led by the UN Foundation, is a "network of networks" bringing together practitioners and institutions working on household and community-level electrification, incorporating innovative financial and business models in predominantly market-based applications supporting improved income generation, health, agriculture, education, small business, and telecommunications outcomes. The Network's particular focus is on the removal of market barriers to the effective delivery of energy services, as well as the identification and dissemination of best practices and advocacy for universal energy access, consistent with the UN Secretary-General's Sustainable Energy for All objective of achieving universal access to modern energy services by 2030. Visit Energy Access Practitioner Network for more information.

Media Contact: Sean Bartlett | 202.419.6401 | sbartlett@unfoundation.org