UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said in a statement to the fourteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York that poor people living in towns and cities around the world had benefited very little from conventional energy policies, with an estimated 2 billion forced to cut down trees and use other traditional fuels for cooking because they had no electricity.
In a statement delivered on her behalf, she said the magnitude of energy consumed per capita has become one of the key indicators of modernization, progress and economic development.
"The urban poor, and especially slum dwellers, are particularly hard hit by the lack of access to modern energy sources," she said. "The urban poor suffer direct physical harm from indoor air pollution. The urban poor spend a much greater share of their household income on energy than higher income groups. They have smaller and less predictable incomes, and their appliances are less energy-efficient. This situation applies particularly to urban poor households headed by women."
Indeed, she said the benefits of modern energy supplies and services were yet reach more than one-third of the global population. People living in poverty have benefited very little from conventional energy policies while more than two billion people continue to use traditional fuels for cooking with two billion more lacking electricity.
UN-HABITAT, mandated to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements and the achievement of adequate shelter for all, sent two experts to address the 14th annual Session of Commission on Sustainable Development which this year
"Ways and means to reduce the costs of energy services to the urban poor will be a crucial factor in our quest to reduce poverty and to meeting the Millennium Development Goals," Mrs. Tibaijuka said. "Our projections show that the rate of increase in urban poverty is far outstripping that of rural poverty and, unless urgent action is taken to reduce urban poverty, the 1 billion slum dwellers of today could easily reach two billion within the next 25 to 30 years." examined progress in sustainable energy, climate change, air pollution and industrial development issues. They told the commission that better urban transport and energy for the urban poor, often the majority in cities and towns around the world, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save valuable financial, natural and other resources.