Return to the UEM Homepage

Adopted by the Special Session of the UN General Assembly 23-27 June 1997


42. Energy is essential to economic and social development and improved quality of life. However, sustainable patterns of production, distribution and use of energy are crucial. Fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) will continue to dominate the energy supply situation for many years to come in most developed and developing countries. What is required then is to reduce the environmental impact of their continued development, and to reduce local health hazards and environmental pollution through enhanced international cooperation notably in the provision of concessional finance for capacity development and transfer of the relevant technology, and through appropriatenational action.

43. In developing countries sharp increases in energy services are required to improve the standard of living of their growing populations. The increase in the level of energy services would have a beneficial impact on poverty eradication by increasing employment opportunities and improving transportation, health and education. Many developing countries, inparticular the least developed, face the urgent need to provide adequate modern energy services, especially to billions of people in rural areas. This requires significant financial, human and technical resources and a broad-based mix of energy sources.

44. The objectives envisaged in this section should reflect the need for equity, adequate energy supplies and increasing energy consumption in developing countries and should take into account the situation of countries that are highly dependent on income generated from the production, processing and export, and/or consumption of fossil fuels and that have serious difficulties in switching to alternative sources of energy, and the situation of countries highly vulnerable to adverse effects of climate change.

45. Advances towards sustainable energy use are taking place and all partiescan benefit from progress made in other countries. It is also necessary to ensure international cooperation for promoting energy conservation and improvement of energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy and research,and the development and dissemination of innovative energy-related technology.

46. Therefore there is a need for:

(a) A movement towards sustainable patterns of production, distribution and use of energy. To advance this work at the intergovernmental level, the Commission on Sustainable Development will discuss energy issues at its ninth session. Noting the vital role of energy in the continuation of sustained economic growth, especially for developing countries, be they importers or suppliers of energy, and recognizing the complexities and interdependencies inherent in addressing energy issues within the context of sustainable development, preparations for this session should be initiated at the seventh session and should utilize an open-ended intergovernmental group of experts on energy and sustainable development to be held in conjunction with inter-sessional meetings of the eighth and ninth sessions of the Commission. In line with the objectives of Agenda 21, the ninth session of the Commission should contribute to a sustainable energy future for all;

(b) Evolving concrete measures to strengthen international cooperation in order to assist developing countries in their domestic efforts to provide adequate modern energy services, especially electricity, to all sections of their population, particularly in rural areas, in an environmentally sound manner;

(c) Countries, bearing in mind the specific needs and priorities of developing countries, to promote policies and plans that take into account the economic, social and environmental aspects of the production, distribution and use of energy, including the use of lower pollutant sources of energy such as natural gas;

(d) Evolving commitments for the transfer of relevant technology, including time-bound commitments, as appropriate, to developing countries and economies in transition so as to enable them to increase the use of renewable energy sources and cleaner fossil fuels and to improve efficiency in energy production, distribution and use. Countries need to systematically increase the use of renewable energy sources according to their specific social, economic, natural, geographical and climatic conditions and cleaner fuel technologies, including fossil fuel technologies, and to improve efficiency in energy production, distribution and use and in other industrial production processes that are intensive users of energy;

(e) Promoting efforts in research on and development and use of renewable energy technologies at the international and national levels;

(f) In the context of fossil fuels, encouraging further research, development, and the application and transfer of technology of a cleaner and more efficient nature, through effective international support;

(g) Encouraging Governments and the private sector to consider appropriate ways to gradually promote environmental cost internalization so as to achieve more sustainable use of energy, taking fully into account the economic, social and environmental conditions of all countries, in particular developing countries. In this regard, the international community should cooperate to minimize the possible adverse impacts on the development process of developing countries resulting from the implementation of those policies and measures. There is also a need to encourage the reduction and the gradual elimination of subsidies for energy production and consumption that inhibit sustainable development. Such policies should take fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries, particularly leastdeveloped countries, as reflected in the special and differential treatment accorded them in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures;

(h) Encouraging better coordination on the issue of energy within the United Nations system, under the guidance of the General Assembly and taking into account the coordinating role of Economic and Social Council

Return to the Urban Energy page
Contact: Hari Srinivas -