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Dialogue Session at the 8th Informal Ministerial Meeting – Bergen

Access to Energy for a Sustainable Future

This is a UNED FORUM summary of issues raised in the stakeholder background papers, created for the preparatory process only. Please read in conjunction with the full papers, submitted by the stakeholder groups.  


Local Government

Trade Unions

Business & Industry

NGOs and Women

Inadequate and inefficient energy services are fundamental poverty issue

Strengthen the social aspects of sustainable development, especially for employment as means of addressing poverty issues.

Access to energy is a priority for addressing poverty

Energy-poverty nexus is fundamental, complex and has a strong gender dimension.


Provide strengthened, demand driven energy services

Reduce negative environmental and social impact of energy consumption/production

Make linkages to transport, industrial production, urbanisation and energy generation

Challenge of climate change


Emphasis on Workplace assessments for energy efficiency in  production and personal consumption of workers

Social and employment dimensions of energy must be understood and measured.

Transition planning for energy through job creation and social programs

Respect for core labour standards and freedom of association to promote worker participation. 


Accessibility to modern, affordable energy.

Reliable service acceptable to social, environmental goals.

Overcome energy poverty.

Enhance quality of delivered service.

Minimise negative environmental and health impacts.


Goal is to achieve equitable access to sustainable energy for all.

A need for diverse supplies of energy that reflects different basic needs requirements

Conditions of access must be acceptable and affordable to local people and conform to environmental objectives.

Close the demand -supply gap.

Local governments can be powerful agents of change, but are constrained by large scale centralised energy services and fossil fuel subsidies.



Foreign Direct Investment is constrained by risk in countries where majority of world’s population reside.

Transition to wider accessibility of more socially and environmentally acceptable energy products relies on enabling frameworks and support of all social actors. This is constrained by lack of awareness and commitment to clear energy goals.

People have been marginalized in the development process.

Energy is either accessible to everyone and undervalued (e.g. biomass) or supplied centrally and governed by market sources, making it unaffordable to poor people.

Barriers to adoption of energy efficient technologies need targeted interventions.

Need to focus on demand side improvements (conservation, efficiency, renewables).

Water-Energy &


Nexus themes proposed for Rio+10


Need to focus on demand-side improvements and crucially on unlocking local needs.


Local Government

Trade Unions

Business & Industry

NGOs and Women

Reform subsidies to be consistent with economic and environmental objectives

Reform subsidies to achieve social and environmental objectives, especially for transportation.

Where subsidies exist for sound policy reasons, maybe convert them to local incentives for employment, or improving non-motorised transport.

Gradually remove hidden subsidies that artificially depress fuel prices and cross-subsidies.



Issue of subsidies is complex. Requires participatory crosscutting analysis and open debate with all stakeholders.

Generally subsidies for polluting energy technologies should be phased out.

Cross-subsidies may be needed to guarantee access for poor people

Introduce carbon tax

Companies must accept financial taxes or other economic tools designed to encourage transition to a sustainable energy sector.

Establish a consistent energy taxation system.

Economic incentives are useful tools for managing energy consumption, but may not be always viable – behavioural changes are important too.

Price of energy should reflect its full social cost.

Cost and benefits of transition to sustainable energy sector must be equitably distributed

Price energy to cover costs of supply and, in some cases, the cost of well-identified externalities related to energy security or environmental protection.

Social and environmental costs must be reflected in price of energy.

Change investment patterns to encourage demand-side investment.





Changes must be made relative to social employment indcators

Key conditions for investment:

Political & economic stability; Governments that facilitate business, rather than make arbitrary interventions;

Legally functioning frameworks and reliable dispute mechanisms;

Sound economic frameworks;

independent regulatory regime; ethical governance and business practices and mechanisms to ensure social objectives and protection of the poor.

Solutions must respond to needs of poor people.







In a deregulated energy market, the initial high level of investment for energy efficiency and renewable technologies are comparatively very expensive. Need policies that recognise their long-term cost- effectiveness.

Measures to reform regulation must take place to improve compliance, strengthened by voluntary approaches. Verification must be reinforced by inspections systems.

Continue market reforms (liberalisation, privatisation) within regulatory framework.


Structural reform to facilitate private sector investment must only be taken after ensuring adequate social safety nets in place.

Domestic energy policy must advocate for universal access and thus define all investment activity.

Initial high level of investment for demand-side management and renewable energy is a major constraint.



Relative expense of renewable energy is prohibitive. Need to invest in development and distribution now so cheaper in future.



Keep all energy options (fossil fuels, large hydro and nuclear) open in near to mid-term to balance with development of renewable energy

Encourage shift   away from the unsustainable dominance of fossil fuels, nuclear and large hydro, which undermines support for alternatives.

International programmes and funding should become accessible to local authorities to promote sustainable energy.



ODA has to be increased substantially to support universal access.

Government commitments to cancel debt burdens must be honoured.

National government should prioritise investment for local projects that deliver integrated sustainable development objectives.



Foreign companies should be legally obliged to integrate national development objectives into their business plans.

Aggregate purchasing of energy efficiency products and technologies reduces costs.






Governments may have to absorb infrastructure costs to serve poor, and favour decentralised renewable energy systems where extension of grid too expensive.



Local Government

Trade Unions

Business & Industry

NGOs & Women

Engage in multi-stakeholder processes at all levels of governance

Strengthen industrial relations and workplace cooperation

Bottom-up, people led development is best.

All stakeholders to be given political space to participate in decision-making and define kind and quality of service they require.

Shift to decentralised units of supply using dispersed sources of energy


Decentralise energy policy to place rural people at heart of planning and implementation.

Off-grid requires, decentralised, integrated community based approach developed and managed in collaboration with all members of society.


Regulation must presuppose a strong public sector.


Government inspections strengthen regulatory compliance and verification of voluntary approaches

Encourage investment by stabilising national/regional markets through rules, which respect local circumstances and are independently regulated with minimum political interference

Encourage investment through proper regulatory mechanisms, and functioning legal systems.  Absence leads to corruption and inefficiency.

Set up independent regulatory mechanisms and regulatory reform.

Regulations must balance incentives to investors with benefits to consumers.

Regulators must consult on issues of access with all stakeholders.

Regulations must make private sector accountable to stakeholders

Strong transparent institutional framework


Strong, transparent rules based institutional framework to foster investment


Utilities should become energy service companies – offering a range of services for consumers to choose, both centralised and decentralised.



Aim is to have number of institutions offering a range of energy ervices for consumers to choose.


Integrated energy planning, using participatory decision making

If lack of local capacity, use regional centres to leverage expertise through partnership.




National government should increase power of local authorities to deal with energy, driven by national targets for renewables and cogeneration.







Access to energy will improve welfare only if adequate infrastructure exists to realise those benefits.


Local Government

Trade Unions

Business & Industry

NGOs and Women

Need greater public awareness and targeted information campaigns

Use workplaces for education and public awareness.

Need greater public awareness and education

Need more awareness rising Consumption and consumer behaviour patterns need to be examined to initiate behaviour change

Demand–side approach must be developed. Privatised energy companies must not deny access to local energy data



Prime constraint for improving access to energy is lack of good demand data to design a useful service Differences between men and women, social groups, income, place of residence

Shift to energy service companies that offer a range of commodities that the consumer wants (i.e. lighting rather than kWh)



Transition to energy service companies that act in a responsible and responsive manner to needs of poor households



Promote energy efficiency programmes



Use workplace assessments to reduce energy consumption. Integrated with health and safety programmes


Inefficient production, distribution and consumption of energy represent lost resources that could be distributed to people living in poverty


Prepare social and employment transition programmes to ensure continued livelihood during transition of energy sector



 Technology and Know How 

Local Government

Trade Unions


NGOS & Women

Introduce minimum efficiency standards (e.g. for buildings & transport) and integrate energy with urban planning

Perform social and employment assessments on innovation and technological change and transfers

Introduce minimum legal efficiency standards in energy equipment and service to encourage development and diffusion of cost-effective technologies


New efficient & renewable technologies are available commercially, but public policies bias the market against them



New efficient & renewable technologies are commercially available. They allow for decentralised easily managed system, which can be scaled up if required



Increase distribution of cost-effective energy efficient technologies

Publicise and support low-cost sustainable energy technologies. Make a clearinghouse of information.

Use of new technologies requires institutional and profession capacity building and skills transfer



Technology transfer needs to be accompanied by skills transfer

Network of organisations providing recognition for good practice



Sharing good practice and experience might encourage companies or governments to take a risk on new technologies

Possible Partnerships  

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Local Government

Trade Unions


NGOS & Women

Many opportunities for partnerships

Build consensus through workplace assessments that are linked to community targets and reporting

New and innovative partnerships are key

Many opportunities for partnerships and multi-stakeholder approach to build consensus

Joint buyers clubs, joint ventures to stimulate demand for new technologies


International Joint Venture: between multinationals, international financial institutions and NGOs to inform on local context.

Public-private partnerships.

Promote eco-efficiency and voluntary initiatives.

Tripartite pubic-private-community partnerships.

Build-Operate-Transfer partnerships.

Joint ventures with companies, community organisations and public utilities to assist technology and skills transfers



New partnerships are key to creating new investment.