Our Perspectives

From science-fiction to reality: A world without electrical power


  Universal access to modern energy services is achievable by 2030. There are no fundamental technical barriers, and proven and innovative solutions exist.

This week is the season 2 finale of “Revolution”, an American science fiction television series that takes place 15 years after the start of a worldwide, permanent electrical-power blackout. 

Now you may wonder why this is the start of a UNDP blog. Let me elaborate:

Far from the entertainment industry and the fictional world depicted in this drama series, a world without access to energy is a reality for 1.3 billion people worldwide who are without electricity and for 2.6 billion living without clean cooking facilities.

Energy affects all aspects of our livelihood, from the way we prepare our food and keep our homes warm to our education, health, and environment.

 In Sub-Saharan Africa, close to 80% of people still use wood, animal waste, charcoal and other pollution-causing fuels to cook their food and heat their homes. In 2012 alone, 4.3 million people died because of indoor air pollution due to these types of fuels… more than those killed by malaria and HIV/AIDs combined. 

In India, for the 25% of the population who lives without electricity, access to energy means more children can go to school and study after dark, more women can invest in starting up a business or taking care of their health, and more companies can extend their working hours and offer job opportunities. 

To help bridge the gap between fiction and reality, in a collaboration with the UN Secretary General’s Creative Community Outreach Initiative (CCOI), UN staff teamed up with writers, producers, and the cast of “Revolution” to help inject some of these facts into an otherwise fictional story. 

I had the opportunity to take part in some of those occasions as we, at UNDP, have supported more than 100 developing countries in the past 20 years in providing sustainable energy solutions, and in advocating for energy to become a development priority. We also partner with the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, which aims to achieve three goals by 2030. As part of our contribution to this initiative, UNDP is currently developing a global hub to scale-up actions that will provide access to energy through decentralized and community-driven solutions for schools, health centres, households, and women-led enterprises in hard-to-reach parts of the world.   

While the season is coming to an end for “Revolution” and its fictional world, our efforts must go on for in the real world close to one fifth of humanity continues to live with the lights off. Join us at action4energy.org to learn about energy poverty challenges and help us turn the lights on. 

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