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Humanitarian Energy Conference 2019

July 31, 2019 — August 1, 2019   |   Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Registration for HEC 2019 is now closed.  We look forward to seeing you in Addis!


The Humanitarian Energy Conference (HEC) is a new global event that convenes the broad community of actors and initiatives worldwide working to improve and expand energy access for displaced and crisis-affected people. Approximately 200-250 participants from over 40 countries and multiple sectors are expected to attend, including humanitarian agencies, NGOs, development organizations, private companies, governments, funding entities, and researchers.

The HEC is a critical opportunity for this diverse community to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and collaborate towards achieving the vision of affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern services for all crisis-affected people by 2030.

The 2019 Humanitarian Energy Conference is a joint production of the Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Humanitarian Working Group and the Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement (GPA). It is hosted by the Clean Cooking Alliance and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), Shell International, and the IKEA Foundation.

Please Note: The 2019 SAFE Workshop and the HEC are complementary but separate events, with separate registration links. For information on the 2019 SAFE Workshop, please click here.


The Humanitarian Energy Conference aims to bring together the entire global community of actors who are working to improve and expand energy access for displaced and crisis-affected people and leverage their collective expertise to advance the sector. Specifically, the conference aims to:

  • Facilitate an open and strategic dialogue on safe and sustainable energy solutions for crisis-affected communities among numerous and diverse stakeholders;
  • Foster coordination and partnerships between diverse stakeholders through networking and peer learning while emphasizing cross-sectoral approaches that can accelerate access to energy in humanitarian settings;
  • Promote the exchange of information including best practices, lessons learned, evidence, initiatives, tools and other resources, along with ongoing efforts;
  • Develop innovative solutions to existing challenges in the humanitarian energy space through structured and collaborative expert-led sessions.
In contrast to other conferences, the HEC is designed to be a participatory event. Panels and presentations will be kept to a minimum, in favor of facilitated discussions and other group activities. Participants should come prepared to actively and thoughtfully contribute to these discussions. The HEC also takes a solutions-oriented approach. Rather than re-stating the well- known challenges and barriers associated with energy programming in humanitarian situations, the conference will use these challenges as prompts for participants to propose and share innovative solutions.


A full agenda for the event will be available in late May. The conference will touch on both household and institutional energy use, including cooking, lighting and powering community spaces and humanitarian operations. Key topics for 2019 will include (but not be limited to):

  • Fostering partnerships between humanitarian agencies and the private sector;
  • Improving inclusivity and accountability to affected populations and host communities by actively working with them to develop energy solutions;
  • Cash-based assistance and associated challenges and opportunities;
  • Innovative financing for energy interventions in the humanitarian sector;
  • National policies and frameworks on displaced people; and
  • The persistent challenge of scaling clean cooking solutions in humanitarian settings.

Action Village

In addition to the conference sessions, an “Action Village” will be open at select times during theconference in which participants may apply to exhibit fuel samples, energy technologies, research, tools and resources, or visual material related to energy interventions in humanitarian settings. The sole purpose of these displays is learning and exchanging of knowledge. Participants will be strictly forbidden to sell, freely distribute, or inaccurately advertise products or resources.
Additional information about the Action Village and instructions for applying will be shared in late May.


The HEC will take place over two full days (July 31 – August 1, 2019) at the Capital Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Participants may register here.
There is no fee to register or to attend the HEC. However, participants are expected to cover all of their own travel, accommodations, and daily expenses. Lunch, coffee breaks, and beverages will be provided at no cost on conference days.

Two networking receptions will take place at the Capital Hotel for registered participants – one in the evening of Tuesday July 30th (the day before the conference), and the other in the evening of July 31st (at the end of the first day).

Additional logistics information, including a booking code for a conference-specific hotel rate, will be sent to registered participants in early June.


Registration is open through June 28th. Please register for the event here. We encourage you to register as soon as you have confirmed your availability to attend, rather than waiting until the deadline, so that we can help facilitate the process of obtaining a conference e-visa for Ethiopia. More information on Ethiopian visa requirements can be found at https://www.evisa.gov.et.


Energy access is a critical and under-served need among the 131 million people in need of humanitarian assistance today. Safe and accessible fuel is needed to cook the dry foodstuffs provided by humanitarian agencies and reduce the exposure of women and girls to the risk of gender-based violence during firewood collection. In the absence of adequate shelter, energy is needed to maintain acceptable temperatures. Electricity is needed for community services such as public lighting, water pumping and treatment, mobile phone charging, cooling of medicine and vaccines, and powering health clinics. Simply put, energy access impacts food security, nutrition, health, protection, shelter, telecommunications, and other key aid sectors. (Read more)

However, current energy practices in situations of displacement are often insufficient, inefficient, unsafe, expensive for displaced people, and harmful to the surrounding environment. An estimated 80% of refugees and displaced people living in camps are cooking with biomass fuels such as firewood and charcoal, and 90% have no access to electricity. Current practices in electricity production are also costly for implementers. A recent study estimates that around 5% humanitarian agencies’ expenditure goes to diesel, petrol, and associated costs.

Since 2014, the Clean Cooking Alliance and other members of the SAFE Humanitarian Working Group have hosted annual SAFE Workshops to build the capacity of humanitarian field practitioners in terms of incorporating effective energy strategies and programming into their work with displaced people, as well as increasing their expertise on available energy technologies and alternative fuels. (Read about the 2017 SAFE Workshop here.) For several years, it was the only annual event that convened actors focusing on this issue. 

As the humanitarian energy community grew and diversified between 2016 and 2018, the SAFE Working Group recognized a growing demand for coordinated action and strategic discussions in SAFE Workshops. At the same time, new global partnerships such as the Moving Energy Initiative and the Smart Communities Coalition emerged, which brought fresh perspectives to the sector.

In 2018, a group of key stakeholders developed a framework for a Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement (GPA). This document addresses current challenges impeding energy access in humanitarian settings and provides a basis for a more systemic, collaborative approach towards the vision of “safe access to affordable, reliable,sustainable, and modern energy services for all displaced people by 2030.” The GPA seeks to strengthen and coordinate, rather than duplicate, existing initiatives working to improve energy access in situations of displacement.

In recognition of the above, the SAFE Working Group and the GPA will launch the inaugural Humanitarian Energy Conference in 2019 as the seminal forum for collaboration and coordinated action among this expanded community of stakeholders, while the annual SAFE Workshop will continue in parallel as a training and capacity-building event for actors who are new to the topic. Both events are hosted by the Alliance, in its capacity as co-chair of the SAFE Working Group, and UNITAR as the host of the GPA Coordination Unit.

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