The Deep Dives: Energy in Humanitarian Settings

IISD Summarizes Humanitarian Energy Session at 2018 SEforAll Forum

May 6, 2018

The 2018 Sustainable Energy for All Forum took place in Lisbon, Portugal, from May 2-3, 2018. On May 3, a Deep Dive Session on Energy in Humanitarian Settings took place. The following summary is quoted from the SEforALL Bulletin, Vol 181 No. 22, published on by the International Institue for Sustainable Development (IISD) on May 6th. Download the full report or view a summary

This session took place on Thursday morning and was moderated by Sheila Oparaocha, Programme Manager, ENERGIA. Panelists comprised: Simon D’Ujanga, Minister of State for Energy, Uganda; Andrew Harper, Director, Division of Programme Support and Management, The UN Refugee Agency; Michael Keating, Special Representative of the UN
Secretary-General in Somalia; Tara Nathan, Executive Vice President, Public-Private Partnerships, MasterCard; and Andreas Spiess, CEO, SolarKiosk.

Oparaocha invited the panel to offer perspectives from their respective institutional settings on how working with refugees and displaced people is changing the way we think about the delivery of modern energy solutions and the potential impact on achieving SDG 7. Speakers noted that refugee camps provide a unique ecosystem for testing out innovative energy services due to their high density, huge energy budgets, institutional commitment to succeed and responsibility to serve surrounding host communities. The opportunity that this creates to link short-term emergency relief with long-term development planning, in close collaboration with local and national governments and other stakeholders, was repeatedly emphasized.

Many noted that humanitarian agencies have an opportunity to leapfrog to clean energy solutions, such as mini and micro grids. With regard to technological innovations, panelists highlighted the use of mobile technologies and smart meters in opening up opportunities for energy entrepreneurs in camps, including women-owned businesses. Specific examples of this were presented from Mastercard’s Smart Communities Initiative and Solarkiosk.

Noting that this is the first time that this issue has been addressed at the SEforALL Forum, a representative from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves pointed out that the lack of clean and safe energy in refugee camps is not only an environmental and security issue, but a nutrition issue as well. She called for stakeholders to scale up pilot projects and reported on the launch of a clean cooking fund to this end. The discussions highlighted a number of outstanding issues, including the need to: build the capacity of budding entrepreneurs in the clean energy sector; develop learning platforms and alliances to aggregate data and identify best practices; and explore innovative financing models.