SDG7: Mobilising youth to achieve energy for all
World Access to Modern Energy (WAME) strives to help educators share the knowledge and tools needed to understand the role of energy in the pursuit of a more sustainable lifestyle and the value of scientific evidence and data in this pursuit.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), provide an urgent call to action and “blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future” for developed and developing countries and their citizens. At the heart of the SDGs lies SDG7, which strives to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
How can we raise awareness, motivate action and community engagement to support SDG7 and the interconnected goals among the community at large, especially among young people?
World Access to Modern Energy (WAME) strives to help educators share the knowledge and tools needed to understand the role of energy in the pursuit of a more sustainable lifestyle and the value of scientific evidence and data in this pursuit. In this article, WAME explores the linkage between youth mobilization and education to achieve universal access to energy.
Today’s youth, tomorrow’s leaders
It is the children and young people of today that will face the worst effects of climate change and environmental degradation at local, regional, national, European and international levels. They need not be passive victims. We have seen millions of children and young people taking part in the #FridaysForFuture, a movement initiated by Greta Thunberg that began in August 2018. This action must be accompanied by adequate knowledge and understanding for it to have long-lasting effects. It is fundamental that our youth not only engage in demonstrations demanding governments and world leaders to take action, they must also acknowledge their own role and impact on preserving the planet and make changes in their everyday lives.
The young generations play a crucial role in the success of SDGs with their daily action and behaviour. They will inherit this planet and will be charged with taking better care of it than previous generations did; they need to be prepared for this enormous task. This is why they should be actively engaged from an early age in coming to grasp complex issues such as sustainable development and how to design and implement environmentally friendly solutions. This applies to all spheres of engagement, whether addressing how to commute, what to eat or which clothes to wear to what jobs and higher education to pursue and in which sector: business, sciences, or policy. As such, the better equipped they are to deal with complex issues like climate mitigation, circular economy or town planning, the better equipped they will be to face the challenges and sustainable choices that lie ahead of them.
Energy: The heart of the matter
While we strive for sustainable development and climate mitigation, energy lies at the heart of achieving both successfully. Fossil fuel consumption is responsible for the vast majority of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. This is why the exploration, development and deployment of all forms of renewable energy sources, and of all ways to make energy production more efficient by appropriate technologies, are key to help fight climate change and take a more sustainable path.
While we strive for sustainable development and climate mitigation, energy lies at the heart of achieving both successfully.
Energy is furthermore recognised as one of the main drivers and essential conditions to economic and human development in the global South, as it was and continues to be in the global North. Insufficient energy infrastructures can cause the marginalisation of entire villages or cities, as well as undermine educational and business opportunities for the individuals. Women and children are often suffering disproportionally from the lack of energy, as they are responsible for most of the household chores like collecting water and fuelwood as well as cooking and cleaning and looking after the very young and elderly family members. This results in physical drudgery, as well as the use of inadequate technology for cooking and heating. Biomass (wood, dung and agricultural waste) is, in fact, most frequently burned on inefficient traditional stoves and open fires. No – or limited – access to energy not only reduces women and children’s empowerment and increases inequalities, but also affects the entire household’s health, as toxic fumes are produced by inadequate combustion.
A case study highlighted by WAME demonstrates how transitioning away from biomass to other fuel sources has positive externalities such as decreasing health complications, increasing girls’ attendance to schools (because they no longer have to gather biomass fuel) and reducing deforestation.
Call for stories! WAME would like to receive real stories that present the good, the bad and the obstacles faced by local communities all over the world, either directly or indirectly, as a result of the energy transition. If your story is selected we will give it visibility through all our social media channels as well as make reference to it in our educational material. If you think you have an interesting story to share with the community, please submit it to Pia Lovengreen Alessi.
Coupling youth mobilisation and education
The path to establishing a more sustainable lifestyle starts with education.
However, just a few teachers possess the highly scientific cross-disciplinary approach needed to grasp and teach the complexity of such topics. And even if they did, that knowledge would not be enough in itself. Teachers should also keep up to date with fast-evolving technological solutions that are being deployed both in the developing and developed world, such as smart meters, mobile payments, improved cook-stoves, electricity generation from solar or wind energy, electric vehicles, carbon dioxide absorption (both industrial carbon capture and storage and agricultural innovation) and many others.
Teaching sustainability is important both in the Global North and the Global South as Local action is needed Globally to achieve the SDGs. Implementing modern technology supports improved learning, while improved learning supports the implementation of more sustainable lifestyles. This is evident in Senegal as students harness solar energy so they can continue their studies at night. Overall allowing the students to study longer and save money as solar light is less expensive than other alternative energy sources.
World Access to Modern Energy (WAME) provides assistance to teachers and students all over the world by helping them develop SDG lesson plans and interactive worksheets, to give young people the knowledge needed to understand the importance of pursuing more sustainable lifestyles and the role of energy in this pursuit. To do this, it is fundamental to teach students the value of scientific evidence and data and to show them how to obtain such information. Young people must be given the tools tha
t allow them to inquire about the scientific validity of the news being presented every day and to distinguish opinions from facts. For more information see WAME Didactic material.
On 22 April 2020, the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Earth Day. For this occasion, WAME published a report titled “Exploring energy access and its nexus” which provides an analysis of access to energy, its evolution over time, its connection with other important challenges of our time including poverty alleviation and hunger, ensuring healthy lives, education and equality, promoting sustainable consumption and economic growth, and mitigating climate change.
For the rest of 2020, WAME will focus on further exploring the interconnection between SDG7 and other SDGs to highlight the importance of looking beyond cultural barriers. We shall launch a series of Interactive Worksheets that are convenient to use for home-schooling.
WAME aims to share knowledge and stories from the field. It does this by providing a comprehensive database with publications and by providing the information in a user-friendly manner. It also develops didactic material for teachers to inform students about the centrality of energy access in economic and social development.
Knowledge with our Partners
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