Energy access is called the “golden thread” due to the critical role it plays in enabling economic opportunity and growth, health, gender equality, food security, and environmental sustainability to individuals, households, and communities. Such access makes it possible to light classrooms, refrigerate vaccines, power machines in factories, and irrigate crops.
Just as access to energy underpins development, so can lack of access to energy perpetuate and exacerbate poverty, insecurity and inequality. Experts agree that energy access is vital to human development, but the challenge of ensuring energy access is becoming both more difficult and more urgent.
The proportion of the world's population lacking access to electricity has decreased in recent years, but the absolute number of people without electricity continues to rise as a result of population growth. Today, more people lack access to electricity than in 2000. The increases in temperature associated with global warming and rapid urbanization will make the need for energy access and efficient cooling technologies more critical than ever.
Two projects that emerged from our energy access Forum (detailed below) are currently underway in Ghana and Uganda. Learn more about them.
On February 20, 2018, Columbia World Projects (CWP) invited about 35 experts from inside and outside Columbia University for a Forum – a meeting to better understand key aspects of this challenge and identify promising projects that CWP could implement to achieve potential solutions. Before the meeting, experts worked with CWP staff to develop more than 15 project proposals, which were discussed and evaluated at the Forum.
Working Groups and Project Proposals
Forum participants were divided into five working groups organized by theme: decarbonization of buildings; breakthrough technologies in storage, materials, and capture; transportation and infrastructure; tracking and measuring emissions to change practice; and policy innovation.
Subject matter experts were assigned to the groups based on their various fields of knowledge, distinct backgrounds, and different views on the topic. Each working group had to evaluate between two and five project proposals developed in advance by participants and CWP staff.
Read more about the project proposals and the working group discussions in our Forum report.
Energy Access Working Groups
- Finance: Innovative financing mechanisms for affordable and reliable energy access add
- Efficiency: Accelerating access by promoting efficient end-use to make energy services more affordable add
- Infrastructure: Structural solutions to deliver universal energy access add
- Renewables: Governance and policy frameworks for energy access add
- Targeted Interventions: Clean cooking, displaced populations, and disasters add
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Michael BruceDirector, Emerson ElementalRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
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Christine EganExecutive Director and CEO, Center for Law and Social PolicyRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
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Jonathan ElkindFellow and Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia UniversityRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
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Alex EvansPresident and Chairman of the Operating Committee, Global LPG PartnershipRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
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Karina GarbesiDirector, Environmental Studies Program, California State University, East BayRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
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Michael GerrardAndrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia Law SchoolRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
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Avril HainesDeputy Director, Columbia World Projects (on leave of absence)Read Full Bio arrow_right_alt
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Judith KarlExecutive Secretary, UN Capital Development FundRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
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Vijay ModiProfessor of Mechanical Engineering, Columbia UniversityAffiliate, Earth Institute and Data Science Institute; Director, Sustainable Engineering LaboratoryRead Full Bio arrow_right_alt
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