Universal Energy Access

Sustainable energy powers opportunity. Yet more than 1 billion people—one in five globally—lack electricity to light their homes or conduct business. 

Sustainable development is not possible without sustainable energy

Nearly 40% of the world's population rely on wood, coal, charcoal, or animal waste to cook their food breathing in toxic smoke that causes lung disease and kills nearly two million people a year, most of them women and children.

Electricity enables children to study after dark. It enables water to be pumped for crops, and foods and medicines to be refrigerated. Modern fuels for cooking and heating relieve women from the time-consuming drudgery and danger of traveling long distances to gather wood.

Without access to modern energy, it is not possible to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the eight-point global agenda adopted by the United Nations in 2000—whether reducing poverty, improving women's and children's health, or broadening the reach of education. Energy facilitates social and economic development, offering opportunity for improved lives and economic progress.

Replacing outdated cookstoves and open fires with modern energy services would save the lives of 800,000 children who die each year as a result of exposure to indoor smoke.

Private-sector investment is key to building and serving those markets

Energy can be used to support businesses and achieve greater prosperity. A farmer who irrigates his fields can double the size of his crop, feed his family, and earn a living. A sewing machine and a light to work from at night can enable a woman to generate extra income for her family.

Without sustainable energy, we will not meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Greater prosperity means more disposable income and new markets for consumer goods.

Through innovation in energy products and investment in deployment, businesses can create jobs and supply millions of people with the tools they need to make a better life. Policymakers can do their part to remove legal and regulatory barriers that stand in the way of business innovation and investments. Civil society groups can encourage governments to make more sustainable choices and provide community-based models of energy innovation.

Energy Access Fact Sheet

Universal Energy Access