Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

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Endorsed in September 2000 by the general assembly of the UN millennium declaration, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the world's time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty by 2015 worldwide.

The eight Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) include:[1]

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty & hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Energy

Although energy is addressed in only one of the eight Millennium Development Goals, access to sustainable, modern and clean energy contributes greatly to achieving all the MDGs. This can be achieved by inclusion of improved energy services which are; modern cooking fuels, access to electricity and motive power.

To achieve this the United Nations Millennium project proposed that countries adopt the following specific targets: [2]

  • Reduction by 50%: number of people without effective access to modern cooking fuels. Making improved cook stoves widely available by 2015.
  • Provide access to electricity to all schools, health faculties, and other key community facilities.
  • Ensure access to motive power in each community.
  • Provide access to electricity and modern energy services for all urban and pre-urban poor.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Basic Energy Services

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Energy

Importance of Energy in Achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Table Millennium Development Goal / Role of Energy

Although energy is not specifically mentioned as a factor in the achievement of the MDGs, it is important in the national economic and social development strategies, including poverty reduction strategies.

In the achievement of the specific Millennium Development Goals energy plays the following roles:[3][4]

Eradication of Extreme Poverty and Hunger

This would include halving poverty levels by year 2015. Energy would facilitate this by increasing agricultural productivity which increases food security and saving of 1-4 hours daily in cooking, fuel collection and food processing. The time can be allocated to better economic activities which improve standards of living.

Achievement of Universal Primary Education

This MDG incorporates information and communication technology (ICT) in education, substitute child labor by boosting adult labor productivity. A girl would get more time to engage in school activities instead of concentrating on domestic chores. For most of the rural underdeveloped areas, modern energy could attract more teachers to the remote communities by improving rural living standards.

Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

This MDG seeks to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015. Previous studies show that women choose to spend most of their saved time in increasing their productivity and indulging in household chores. Energy would play a key role by giving these women access to information and in some case empowerment through the media. Street lighting and lighting in the community also gives a chance to adult education and community involvement by increasing safety. Modern cooking fuels would also be available which would reduce respiratory related diseases and save time on firewood collection, leading to more leisure time and women empowerment.

Reduce Child Mortality

This MDG seeks to reduce mortality rate for children under five by two thirds between 1990 and 2015. To achieve this modern energy and electricity can be utilized in the reduction of malnutrition related deaths by boosting food production and household incomes. Waterborne diseases are also reduced by powering equipment for pumping, boiling and treatment of water on the other hand respiratory diseases are also combated by the use of modern energy and improved cook stoves which reduce the indoor air pollution (IAP) levels.

Improve Maternal Health

I order to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015 the, modern energy can be used in health care facilities as a mean of providing better services and dissemination of information on how to fight the spread of preventable diseases through radio and television. This also reduces the risk and time spent by the women when collecting firewood and it is evident that women collecting firewood are at risk of sexual abuse.

Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

By 2015 this MDG seeks to half the spread of HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other major diseases and reverse their spread globally. Modern energy facilitates this by adoption of recommended health behavior such as cooking for people living with HIV/AIDS or other diseases. Attracting and retaining health and social workers especially in remote and rural areas can also be facilitated with modern energy.

Ensure Environmental Sustainability

This MDG was established to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation as well as the achievement of a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.
For this to be achieved it is imperative to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs so as to reverse and manage the loss of environmental resources. Government involvement can control the emissions from burning of fossil fuels which are the major contributors of air pollution especially in urban areas. Acidified rain which causes changes in the water and land composition can also be controlled which in turn reduces the unpredictable changes in the climate. Land degradation from firewood collection and charcoal burning which is not only unsustainable but causes indoor air pollution (IAP) can also be changed so as to reduce the carbon emission levels.
Some changes that can be applied to contain and reverse the environmental damage levels include increasing energy efficiency, introducing modern technologies for energy production and use, substituting cleaner fuels for polluting fuels, and introducing renewable energy.

Develop a Global Partnership for Development

The World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) called for partnerships between public entities, development agencies, civil society and the private sector to support sustainable development, including the delivery of affordable reliable and environmentally sustainable energy services.

Role of Cooking Energy in Achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Nearly 3 billion people are cooking with biomass and charcoal and mostly using three stone and rudimentary stoves. Since 80% of the foods we consume need to be cooked, cooking energy is essential for the survival. Cooking energy (although not specifically addressed) is important in achieving the MDGs as various factors depend on it.

These factors include: time spent looking for firewood and lighting, reduction of diseases related to indoor air pollution, women empowerment and engaging in more productive activities and mostly less deforestation leading to climate control.[5][6]

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