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Towards a Sustainable Future

Energy Connectivity in Asia and the Pacific Region

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This report, aimed at policy makers from Asia and the Pacific, provides a historical perspective on regional energy connectivity and its implementation challenges, as well as outlining an action plan for accelerated regional energy integration to bring shared benefits to ESCAP’s member States. The report concludes that energy connectivity can increase the supply and reduce the cost of energy, while lowering its social and environmental costs and addressing the challenges of energy security. Regional cooperation in energy has been evolving mainly through five subregional clusters –– South-East Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, North-East Asia, and the Pacific. A great many resources have been spent on bringing the subregions together; however, overall results remain below the potential. One of the main reasons for the slow progress is the decision-making process for cross-border projects. Energy markets do not connect by themselves; in the next few decades, actions will be needed to build physical energy networks, institutional connectivity and, most importantly, trust between nations to meet the Region’s two most important challenges — overcoming energy poverty and mitigating climate change. Governments, policymakers, and experts must work together in partnership with the private sector to provide sustainable energy for all by 2050 by connecting Asian energy networks and building institutions of integration. ESCAP is in a unique position to lead such a transformative partnership for ensuring that regional energy connectivity creates incentive structures and institutions to deliver cost-effective energy for the entire Region. It is time to build energy connectivity for an interdependent Asia and the Pacific –– prosperous and connected –– thus ending Asian economic dependence on a single source or a single fuel.

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Introduction and overview

The global leadership at the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015. Universal energy access is an important goal to transform the world of development and the Agenda is intended to stimulate action such that by 2030, affordable, reliable, modern energy service for all becomes a reality. The task at hand is extremely challenging: despite enormous economic success, the Asian-Pacific Region (“the Region”) is home to the majority of the world’s energy-poor population, with 455 million people lacking access to electricity. Nearly 1.8 billion people rely on traditional fuels for cooking and heating, which raises significant environmental concerns, health problems and gender inequality issues (ESCAP, 2015).

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