Essayah: Finland must work for a sustainable energy policy in developing countries

Sari Essayah is disappointed that the attainment of the UN Millenium Development goals is proceeding extremely slowly. According to the Commission’s estimate, the intermediate goal of 0,56% of GNI being given to development aid will be achieved in 2012 at the earliest and not 2010 as originally envisaged.  Ms Essayah spoke on Saturday at the 20th anniversary celebrations of the local chapter of UNIFEM in Lapinlahti, Finland.

”I am concerned about the new ”ODA plus” concept in the Commission’s development policy report. According to the concept, development aid funds would also include other financial flows to developing countries in addition to traditional development aid. As such it will become possible to water down the concept of development aid to include expenses incurred in the course of crisis management, in combating and adapting to climate change as well as refugee matters. These will eventually serve as justifications for evading the actual development aid goal of 0.7% of GNI.

”On the contrary, I think that European countries should agree on binding annual supplements to development aid,” says Ms Essayah. She suggests that the tax deduction provisions of the law on income tax should be extended to cover donations to development aid organisations made by individuals. This would encourage citizens to participate in the attainment of the development cooperation goal.

According to Ms Essayah, the EU’s energy policy is not in all aspects sufficient in the long run. Large corporations have acquired hundreds of thousands of hectares of arable land in developing countries for the production of biofuels, to the detriment of local food production.

”The EU should reconsider this matter: it cannot take land away from people in developing countries in order to attain the 2020 biofuel goal. Rather, the goal should either be reduced or it should be attained solely through the use of so-called ”second generation biofuels” such as the wood gasification technique developed in Finland or algae-based biofuel production,” suggests Ms Essayah.

The energy demands of developing countries will also increase dramatically in the course of the next thirty years. Energy consumption will also increase by 250%.

”In particular, the problem of rising fossil fuel consumption must be addressed urgently. Finland could play an important role in taking its bioenergy know-how to where sunshine and other preconditions for crop cultivation abound,” says Ms Essayah.