This article has been re-posted from mei.chathamhouse.org. View the original article here.
Affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all is the vision of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, which was under review in July at the United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York City. At this occasion, on July 11th, over 100 participants from governments, humanitarian, development and energy sectors, donors, academia and the private sector gathered at the Permanent Mission of Germany to launch the next stage of the Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement (GPA). This is an evolving framework, that is aiming - through collaborative, cross-sectoral action - to achieve the vision that “every person affected by conflict or natural disaster has access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services by 2030."
Development of the GPA began at a working conference in Berlin earlier this year. Now, six months later, a growing cadre of partners gathered to review and discuss the summary of key challenges and recommendations for the GPA Framework, which was elaborated during the last half year in five working groups on different subjects. The Framework emphasizes the crucial role of sustainable energy in saving lives, enabling development, and enhancing livelihoods among displaced people and surrounding communities.The GPA is being structured to serve as the platform to coordinate, advocate, and mobilize resources to ensure we are “leaving no one behind."
In the morning, attendees participated in an expert meeting featuring round table discussions where consensus grew around first priority actions to take on for implementing energy solutions in situations of displacement.
In the afternoon, Nikhil Seth, Executive Director of United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), moderated a high-level panel with key stakeholders responsible for protection and wellbeing of displaced people. Michele Klein Solomon, Director of the Global Compact of Migration at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Craig Sanders, Deputy Director in the Division of Programme Support and Management of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) emphasized the importance of partnerships – especially with development actors, the private sector, and donors – to create large scale change on energy access. Ms. Solomon highlighted the GPA as a tool to improve the lives of those displaced by conflict and crisis through meeting their energy needs.
Mr. Sanders explained that, as an emergency response organization, UNHCR will continue to prioritize meeting the basic needs of displaced populations, and invited development and private sector actors to invest in energy projects through wide scale partnership. “We can’t do it alone,” he said. Hans Olav Ibrekk, Policy Director for Energy and Climate Change at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, underlined for other major agencies to clearly articulate their energy needs to donors, pointing out that this issue is one caught between energy, humanitarian and development actors. Clear requests and information on the need for energy are required in order to channel available funding appropriately. He encouraged implementing agencies not to “pass the buck” to donors.
Mohammed Afaneh, Director of Policy and International Cooperation in the Jordanian Ministry of Environment, rounded out the panel by advocating for the importance of working with the global humanitarian and development actors to meet energy demand among displaced people – highlighting the recent upgrades of Azraq and Za’atari refugee camps to solar energy as tangible examples of providing clean energy access to the large influx of Syrian refugees. Mr. Seth echoed these comments, clearly defining the benefits of unlocking transformative change on clean energy access in the humanitarian sector, and more broadly for all displacement situations. “It’s good for economics, the environment, and most importantly, the people in displaced settings," he said.
“The Global Plan of Action is the answer to what we’re grappling with.”
- Hans Olav Ibrekk, Energy Policy Director, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The launch of the GPA Framework met with unanimous support from the panelists and audience, and the Steering Group was encouraged to continue its development. Over the next few months, it is planned to translate the framework to a cohesive, actionable work plan for the sector to move forward together and implement projects in partnership. This will be facilitated by a support structure consisting of the GPA Working Groups, Steering Group, and Secretariat, which is currently hosted at UNITAR.
Involuntary large-scale migration is one of the world's most pressing challenges. Urgent and well-informed action is needed to bring displaced people into the achievement of SDG 7. The GPA aims to enhance and extend existing initiatives already working on this issue and move them towards coordinated action. There is a clear need to bridge the public and private sector involved in development, humanitarian and energy deployment; work together to implement appropriate solutions; and directly empower displaced people with the resources and capacity to meet their energy needs.
The Global Plan of Action initiative is jointly steered by IOM, UNHCR, UNITAR, GIZ, The Moving Energy Initiative, Practical Action, WFP, UNEP DTU, UNDP, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, FAO, and the UN Foundation.
This Steering Group invites existing and new partners to get engaged and contribute their expertise and resources as the recommendations are translated into an actionable work plan to accelerate energy access for all. To join a working group as the GPA framework is translated into operational action, please indicate your group of interest in this form. For more information on how to support the activities, please email email@example.com or visit http://onlinelearning.unitar.org/global-plan-of-action/.
The Steering Group would like to kindly thank the panelists from the New York event for their support, the Permanent German Mission to the UN for hosting the event, the Federal Foreign Office of Germany for their support, and the event participants for contributing expertise to the GPA framework.