You are here: SE4ALL People-Centered Accelerator: a bottom-up approach to tackling energy poverty emerges from COP23


Conversations at UN Climate Change Conferences are often dominated by large corporations and developed economies of the Global North discussing top-down strategies for transitioning to clean energy sources. But what about the people in the Global South who do not have access to energy at all? This year, at COP23 in Bonn, ‘tackling energy poverty’ was also on the agenda. Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) put the spotlight on bottom-up solutions to make clean, affordable energy accessible to all and make a positive impact on people’s lives as well as on the climate. And women are at the centre of this approach.

At a side event entitled, ‘Leaving No One Behind: Delivering and Designing Diversified Energy Services,’ Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) drew attention to the need for bottom-up solutions to tackling energy poverty.  With the catchy slogan: "It's not kilo watt hours, it's people", SEforALL presented their People-Centered Accelerator: an initiative which aims to strengthen collaboration between stakeholders who are committed to advancing gender equality, social inclusion and women’s empowerment in the energy sector. The initiative also aims to work with global leaders to promote an energy transition that leaves no one behind.

Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, outlined the Accelerator’s work streams, including finding the best pathways for sustainable energy access, directing capital to gender-inclusive and socially responsive business models, and empowering women in the energy sector to transform the system themselves. Speakers also highlighted the value of a decentralised approach to power distribution; the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s first Gender Action Plan; and women’s access to social networks where they can build distribution chains that would be too risky for traditional commercial actors.

According to the International Energy Agency, 1.3 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity and 2.7 billion people still rely on biomass to cook.

We will not achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals if we do not include those people who are being poisoned while cooking, 

said Rachel Kyte.

In the global transition to an economy built on clean energy, that group cannot be left behind.

To learn more about the Accelerator and take part in the initiative, please contact Jane Ebinger, Policy Director, on and Fiona Messent, Policy Specialist, on