COP23: Improving livelihoods through regional cooperation

15/11/2017
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A panel discussion on “Providing NEXUS Solutions: Improving Livelihoods through Regional Cooperation” was held Wednesday, November 15 during the UN Climate Summit (COP23) in Bonn. Organized by the African Regional Sustainable Energy Centres in collaboration with UNIDO and hosted by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the session addressed the urgent need of channeling regional cooperation towards a stronger NEXUS approach.

Tareq Emtairah, Director of the UNIDO Energy Department, opened the session highlighting the potential held by Africa’s regional sustainable energy centres in increasing regional cooperation and capacities to mitigate existing barriers to renewable energy and energy efficiency investment, markets and industries – and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Africa’s population continues to be faced with lack of access to sustainable and affordable energy – the International Energy Agency (2017) estimates that in 43% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa has access to electricity, the lowest in the world. Challenges and opportunities to achieve sustainable development are further strengthened once the intricate connection between energy, water, and food – integrating related dimensions such as gender, climate change, health and livelihoods – is considered.

A presentation by Tom Derksen, SNV Managing Director for Energy, linking the agriculture-water-energy-gender-climate change nexus, and stressing the importance of taking an integrated approach with new thinking in the development and implementation of projects.

Amadou Hott, African Development Bank Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, gave a keynote where he reiterated the Bank’s commitment to partnering with the continent’s regional sustainable energy centres in addressing the energy gap. A recent example that he provided was the Bank’s partnership with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD IPPF) to fund the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) entity of ECREEE’s Feasibility Study on Business Opportunities for Women in a Changing Energy Value Chain in West Africa.

The panel, which took place within the 1st meeting of the “African Sub-Network of Sustainable Energy Centres”, was moderated by Elfriede-Anna More, Director of International Environment Affairs of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. More noted that ECREEE’s preparation of the ECOWAS Policy for Gender Mainstreaming in Energy Access – the first of its kind on the continent – and urged the other regional economic communities to follow suit. The African Development Bank supported ECREEE in preparing the policy.

“Integrating the nexus approach in energy projects, for example in relation to green mini-grids, makes business sense and increases the bankability of these projects”, said Daniel Schroth, Advisor to the African Development Bank Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth. He further emphasized the importance of integrated energy planning, project preparation support, and the set-up of dedicated funding vehicles to support small-scale projects, which are key pillars of the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa.

The New Deal’s universal energy access objective by 2025 can only be achieved in partnership with all relevant stakeholders. In this regard, the Bank intends to increase its collaboration with the continent’s various regional sustainable energy centres.