Capacity Needs of Government Officials for Integration of Energy and Human Development
Achieving Sustainable Energy for all (SE4ALL) is one of the fundamental needs for attaining development goals while ensuring economic growth and safeguarding the environment. Access to energy is a necessary precondition for achieving many development goals that extend far beyond the energy sector-eradicating poverty, increasing food production, providing clean water, improving public health, enhancing education, creating economic opportunity, and empowering women. Despite this, ground realities are starkly different in India. Around 600 million Indians do not have access to electricity and about 700 million Indians use biomass as their primary energy source for cooking. The Union government and various State governments in India play an important role in addressing the energy access concerns of the nation. At the national and state levels, the policies shaped by the governments determine the course of action with regard to human development. While policies have traditionally adopted a piecemeal approach to address human development and energy concerns, there is growing consensus that the two, being complimentary, must be addressed in an integrated manner. However, such integration at the level of policy requires a considered awareness of the interlinkages between energy and human development. At the level of the state and district administration, line departments play the role of implementing the policy determined at the national and state levels. Even if the policy takes an integrated view of energy and human development, it is important for the line functionaries of the government to appreciate these linkages. Without an understanding of how energy access and efficiency can directly contribute to human development, one of the goals may be sidelined at the cost of the other at the time of policy implementation. Political priorities, level of awareness and skills, financial resources, human resources, and time frame of projects are some of the pressing concerns that determine the level of convergence of energy and human development goals. Integration of energy and human development is also limited by the distribution of responsibilities related to these two spheres over several ministries and departments. In many areas policies relevant for energy are in the hands of State government. These policies also need to be made consistent with the overall mandate of energy access to attain the objective of sustainable energy for all.