India, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines must improve transparency and public participation in their electricity sectors to provide citizens with affordable, reliable and clean energy, concludes a new report.
"Empowering People: A Governance Analysis of Electricity" examines the decision-making processes leading to the design of and investment in electricity infrastructure in Southeast Asia. More than $6.5 trillion of investment is needed in the sector in developing countries by 2030.
But there are questions about how well efforts to privatise electricity services have supported public interests and sustainable development targets such as the Millennium Development Goals.
"More open planning and regulatory processes can help manage trade offs, and allow for more investment in clean energy at affordable prices," said Smita Nakhooda of the World Resources Institute, one of the authors of the report released in New York on Friday.
The report is part of the Electricity Governance Initiative (EGI), a global partnership of non-governmental organisations engaged in national energy policy debates. The data analysed in the report was collected by a partnership of 20 civil society organisations in the four countries.
Shantanu Dixit of Prayas Energy Group, and a co-author of the report, noted: "The energy sector policies of today have focused on financial viability and economic growth at the cost of neglecting institutions, governance, equity and sustainability.
"Unless this major shortcoming is addressed by promoting transparency, accountability and public participation in the policy making and regulation, crisis in the electricity sector can not be resolved."
EGI, a partnership for sustainable development registered with the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, seeks to promote open, transparent, and accountable decision-making processes to reach a socially and environmentally sustainable energy future.
The EGI is a joint undertaking of the World Resources Institute, an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organisation and Prayas Energy Group, a registered charitable trust based in Pune, India. The National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (India) was centrally involved in developing the EGI indicator toolkit and implementing the assessments in Asia.