The international community recognises a number of basic rights: the right to water, the right to food, the right to health, the right to adequate housing, the right to work and the right to take part in cultural life. Missing from this list is the right to energy. Yet, everyone needs energy to cook food, to heat the home, to earn a living, to benefit from good health and education services. Energy poverty denies people a basic standard of living, which should be available for all.

A total of 189 countries adopted the Millennium Declaration and committed to the Millennium Development Goals in 2000. The eight Millennium Development Goals are a shared world vision for reducing poverty. Achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals has been limited by energy poverty across the developing world. This lack of access to efficient modern energy has a significant impact on economic development, educational opportunities, infant mortality, drudgery for women and quality of life.

An estimated US$435 billion would be required to provide electricity to all of the population presently un-served. An estimated investment of US$135 billion would enable about 50% of the population currently cooking with solid biomass to switch to other fuels, and provide access to efficient and clean cooking for those that will remain on biomass.

A contribution of US$48bn a year from the international community would provide electricity to millions of poor people across the world leading to better health, education, climate and economic growth. It is all of our moral imperative and social responsibility to join together and muster our strength; commitment and financial generosity to help and save our poor – a fraction of the US$48bn a year shall go a long way to alleviating such a cruel burden.

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.

The UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon, has recognised the importance of this issue by including the goal of universal access to modern energy within his Sustainable Energy For All initiative.

By the World producing more and more clean energy will not save the energy poor. There exists a serious inequality between the energy affluent and energy poor – an inequality we are committed to change.