One of the main dilemmas facing global sustainable development governance today is the growing democratic deficit of the intergovernmental policy-making system (Scholte, 2002). The lack of responsiveness of intergovernmental norms and policies to collective concerns, as well as the lack of accountability of intergovernmental organisations and member states, are generating a crisis of legitimacy (Castells, 2001; Keohane, 2003; Haas, 2004). Resolving this crisis is a difficult task that requires among other things the creation of institutional mechanisms that allow citizens to participate in a meaningful way
in the creation and implementation of global norms (Castells, 2005). In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro institutionalised participatory governance with the creation of nine overarching categories called the major groups, through which “all concerned citizens” could participate in the United Nations’ (UN) activities on achieving sustainable development, as stipulated in principle 10 of the Rio Declaration. Twenty years later, this representative-based system of participation raises serious issues about its capacity to offer all concerned citizens direct access to processes of global norm production.
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Universal Access to Energy, after a troubled path that started with the identification of the Missing Millennium Development Goal during the Rio+20 Conference and the launch of the Sustainable Energy For All initiative (SE4ALL) by the UN, will finally be included among the new Goals for sustainable development, expected in September 2015.
Energy is a key condition to guarantee access to clean water, sanitation, schooling and business in developing countries, and represents a key factor for growth and development.
Currently, about 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity, some 18% of the world population, geographically concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and South-East Asia, and to a lesser extent in East Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. The worst conditions are observable in Sub – Saharan Africa, where only 290 out of 915 million people have access to electricity and the total number without access is rising (IEA 2014).
At the same time, more than 2.6 billion people – 38% of the world population – rely on traditional cooking methods based on the use of biomass which generates negative impacts on social and health households’ conditions: the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels and more than 50% of premature deaths among children under 5 are due to pneumonia caused by particulate matter inhaled from household air pollution (WHO 2012).
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