UNDP in cooperation with Power Division organized a workshop on 11 September 2007 on ‘Energy for Millennium Development Goals’. The objective of the workshop was to create greater awareness on energy issues for achieving the MDGs. About 150 participants from Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Economic Relation Division, Planning Commission, Government institutions including Power and Energy agencies and utilities, Academic and Professional Institutions, NGOs, Private Sectors, Media, Development Partners attended the workshop.
Mr. Larry Maramis Deputy Country Director of UNDP chaired the workshop and Dr. M. Fouzul Kabir Khan, Secretary of Power Division, MoPEMR was present as the Chief Guest. Dr. Abul Barkat, Professor of Economics, Dhaka University presented the keynote paper on ‘Energy for Millennium Development Goals’. Prof. Barkat explained linkages between energy services & income poverty reduction, eradication of hunger, education, gender equality & empowerment of women, health, environmental sustainability (i.e., various goals & targets of MDG). He also provided the empirical evidences (including those from Bangladesh) towards understanding complex linkages between energy services & MDG and mentioned that it would not be possible to attain all the goals without easy access to energy services. Referring to International Energy Association~s assessment, he said during 2003-2030 the world energy sector needs investment of US $16 trillion, of which $9.6 trillion, or 60 percent, for electricity, $3 trillion for oil, $3 trillion for gas and $0.4 trillion for coal. Bangladesh needs $16 billion investment to ensure electricity for all by 2020, he said, adding that with the present economic growth rate Bangladesh has the ability to invest the amount in local energy sector. Giving concrete example of the electrified villages, Prof. Barkat argued that access to energy in rural Bangladesh would reduce poverty, eradicate hunger, ensure education, bring about gender equity, improve health services and ensure sustainable development in line with the MDG.
Ms. Shireen Kamal Sayeed, Assistant Country Director of UNDP presented the energy need of women and stressed on policy issues related to energy for attaining the gender related MDGs. Mr. B. D. Rahmatullah, Director (Training) of Rural Electrification Board showed the linter-linkages between rural development and energy. He mentioned that rural electrification and rural development must be integrated to ensure the sustainability of both. Professor M. Rezwan Khan, Vice Chancellor of United International University talked on urban energy crisis and environment.
The Chief Guest ensured that the government would soon take a holistic approach towards the energy sector. He said that fair and honest national debate was needed on energy resources like coal and the pricing of energy.
The chairperson in his concluding remark noted that in the context of Bangladesh rural energy is extremely important if poverty is to be reduced to half by 2015. The nation cannot progress in terms of growth if 70-80% of the population who live in rural areas are without modern energy. It not only affects their quality of life, it also leaves them with little or no option to be productive.