Promoting and mapping sustainable energy evidence to achieve SDG7

Delivering sustainable energy for all (SDG7) is key to making progress on several sustainable goals. However, most of the world’s rural population still does not have access to electricity, and the growth of modern renewables has been modest in the last decade. To inform efforts to promote sustainable energy with the most rigorous and updated evidence available, 3ie and SEforALL are co-producing the first evidence gap map based on SDG7 outcome targets, followed by a systematic review to understand which interventions work best.

For Illustrative purpose only

The number of people living without access to electricity and clean cooking in 2030 is estimated to be around 600 million and 1.9 billion, respectively, according to the Tracking SDG7 Report 2023. Ensuring future energy interventions are informed by rigorous and updated effectiveness evidence of what works, where and how is imperative for accelerating improvements in this sector.

Our flagship project with Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) aims to produce groundbreaking research leveraging existing evidence around specific geographies, technologies, and other intervention areas. We are identifying gaps where new studies will further help and are co-producing the systematic review, the first to focus on the SDG7 outcome targets: access, renewables and efficient energy. It is also the first to provide easy access to the available rigorous evidence on the effects of sustainable energy across low- and middle-income countries. 

Given the high costs of implementing programs and conducting impact evaluations, the findings of the mapping and synthesis can be used to help guide evidence-informed policymaking and research design, while highlighting the existing evidence gaps that may be filled through future research and evaluation investments.

Mapping and understanding the evidence on sustainable energy

The online map shows that the evidence on sustainable energy is large and growing, with almost half of the studies having been published since 2021. However, this body of evidence is clustered around few interventions (e.g., improved cookstoves) and outcomes (e.g., energy consumption). We identified three main gaps in the evidence: 1) no evaluations of risk guarantee instruments, push and pull finance or advocacy and diplomacy interventions; 2) few evaluations of programs in countries with the lowest electrification rates 3) few evaluations of interventions related to public service delivery, such as in hospitals and schools. 

Using the evidence from the EGM, our systematic review will help understand the effectiveness, barriers, and facilitating factors of off-grid interventions designed to increase energy access.