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OpenAccess Energy

Despite many decades of global efforts directed at mass electrification, we have failed to deliver modern electricity services to approximately one-third of the people on Earth. 1.1 billion people continue to live without access to electricity. A further billion have unreliable access. According to the International Energy Agency’s most optimistic scenario for future energy access, the number of people worldwide without electricity in the year 2030 is projected to remain above 1 billion. In Sub-Saharan Africa the problem is projected to get worse, not better. The fact that population growth is outstripping electrification means that by 2030 the number of people without electricity will have risen by 10% (16% in rural areas) from 2009 levels. Clearly, our approach to opening up energy access has to change.

There is good reason for making a renewed effort. Access to electricity can open up economic and educational opportunities, eliminate the drudgery of hard manual labour and bring vast improvements in health care. These are only some of the reasons the UN has made ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030 one of its Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 7). Unfortunately, we are not on track to meet this goal. Although governments, NGOs, communities and researchers all over the world are trying to solve the problem of access to energy, the scale of the problem is far bigger than the pace and scale of current solutions.

This sobering scenario provides the rationale behind the Waterloo Global Science Initiative's OpenAccess Energy Summit.

Meet the multinational, multidisciplinary and multigenerational group that will meet from April 24-27, 2016 to develop an actionable framework for addressing electricity provision for energy isolated communities.

At a pre-Summit Advisory Group workshop held in October 2015, a group of experts defined success in the following terms:

The end goal is to improve well-being through the transformative change modern electricity services provide. We will identify and catalyze the strategies and actions necessary to sustainably provide the energy-isolated with reliable and affordable access to modern electricity services. This will be made possible by harnessing current and emerging science, technology and social innovations, and considering short, medium and long-term timeframes.

WGSI’s goal is to create the necessary space for alignment of different organizations and disciplines to deliver effective solutions. Our organizational impact comes from fostering connections between individuals and stewarding the development of strategic partnerships to meet the global energy access challenge. Although an enormous amount of research has been carried out in the energy access space, questions and uncertainties about the best paths to progress remain, especially in the translation of research into action.


As a complement to the globally focused OpenAccess Energy Summit, WGSI is bringing organizations in the Waterloo Region with an interest in sustainability and energy issues together under the #PowerShiftWR banner for a week of public programming that will engage all ages in discussions about our energy choices.

View the full event listing here

OpenAccess Energy Brief V2

Co-authored by a science journalist and an energy researcher, WGSI's OpenAccess Energy Brief is an engaging overview of energy access issues that identifies challenges, knowledge gaps and opportunities. This version incorporates feedback collected by our advisory group who met in October 2015 to evaluate version 1 of the Brief and Summit goals. This version of the Brief serves as a framing document for the upcoming OpenAccess Energy Summit (April 24-27, 2016).


Download WGSI's OpenAccess Energy Brief V2.

OpenAccess Energy Communiqué

Developed by a group of researchers, practitioners, representatives of Canada’s First Nations and energy-isolated communities, lawyers, government advisors and financiers assembled at the OpenAccess Energy Summit in Waterloo, Ontario, the OpenAccess Energy Communiqué outlines strategies to bring integrated, implementable and impactful solutions to the global energy landscape.







Download the OpenAccess Energy Communiqué (PDF)
Read the OpenAccess Communique in German (Deustche) - Translated by Summit contributor Joachim Knebel Read the OpenAccess Energy Communiqué in Vietnamese (tiếng Việt) – Translated by Summit contributor Hang Dao  

OpenAccess Energy COP22 Brief

WGSI's recommendations for global action on energy access, grounded in examples from remote and Indigenous communities in Canada.