Energy Access: A Human Right

We at SELF believe that access to energy should be a basic human right. It is foundational to improving water and food security, healthcare, education, safety, and much more for communities in the developing world.

The Path to Recognizing Energy Access as a Human Right

Too often, the role of energy has been overlooked as a critical component for sustaining and advancing people’s lives in the developing world. 

For example, in 2000, the United Nations launched its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which committed world leaders to address its to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women. But it was disappointing to discover that this new plan had a hole.  Nowhere in the document could you find the goal to combat energy poverty.  Without access to reliable energy, more than a billion people worldwide have little hope of improving their lives.  SELF and other energy advocates spoke up about the necessity to recognize energy as the predicate factor in assuring the human rights of all people. This realization that energy is foundational to achieving a broad range of basic human rights resulted in the inclusion of affordable and clean energy in the 2015 United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).


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Since 1990, SELF has completed projects in more than 25 countries and pioneered unique applications of solar power such as for drip irrigation in Benin, health care in Haiti, telemedicine in the Amazon rain forest, online learning in South Africa and microenterprise development in Nigeria.

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