Ensuring Sustainable Energy Access for Displaced People

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The Global Platform for Action on Sustainable Energy in Displacement Settings (GPA) is the global initiative to promote actions that enable sustainable energy access and use in displacement settings. The GPA strives to remove barriers to energy access in humanitarian settings by providing a collaborative agenda for energy, development, and humanitarian partners to deliver concrete actions of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) for displacement contexts.

A new report explores the major challenges, progress and issues associated with humanitarian energy. A number of key messages have emerged from this report:

  • The vast majority of the world’s displaced people do not have access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern sources of energy: an estimated 94% of displaced people in camps do not have access to electricity and 81% rely on firewood and charcoal for cooking.
  • Millions of displaced people live in the dark, surrounded by smoke and pollution, unable to access basic electricity services or sustainable cooking solutions.
  • The total energy and environmental investment funding requirements listed in current humanitarian response plans, covering 28% of global refugee populations, was estimated at US$300 million for 2021. Scaling this to all refugee populations would have cost over US$1 billion for 2021. To cover all refugee energy needs globally between 2022 and 2030 would require over US$10 billion.


Without substantial investment and decisive political action, Sustainable Development Goal 7 is highly unlikely to be achieved in displacement contexts by 2030.

Action is needed on:

  • Governance and Coordination: Alternative partnerships that collaborate beyond the traditional humanitarian mechanisms are required to deliver energy access. While investment is required to increase clean energy deployment, dedicated support is also critically needed for coordination and advocacy for policy change and increased resources.
  • Policy and Access to Clean Energy: While there has been some progress on policy at the global level, national and local progress on delivering access to sustainable energy and transitioning to cleaner energy sources in infrastructure is still highly limited.
  • Funding and Financing: Alternative forms of institutional funding are needed to finance the supply of sustainable and renewable energy in displacement contexts. Innovative financing mechanisms and collaboration with the private sector can enable new ways of working, but institutional changes within agencies and collaboration with local markets are necessary to support such progress.
  • Delivery and Technical Capacity: There is a critical deficit for funding of staffing and expert technical capacity within the sector. Urgent resources are needed at the local, national and global levels to ensure low-carbon energy delivery is possible. There are many complex delivery models and implementation mechanisms which require new research to facilitate more effective implementation.
  • Evidence and Data: There is limited reliable data within the sector that could guide larger-scale programming. Practical progress and systematic reform of humanitarian energy cannot take place without high-quality data. Inclusive and targeted research is necessary to work with displaced communities and their hosts and generate evidence to inform systemic change.
  • Climate Action and Decarbonisation: The humanitarian sector contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, much of which is driven by the use of fossil fuels. To reduce its contribution to the global climate crisis, the humanitarian sector must invest in renewable and low-carbon sources of energy.
  • Practical Tools and Inclusive Action: Practical solutions and expert energy partners are available to support the humanitarian sector in delivering sustainable energy access and decarbonising energy infrastructure. Progressive action must be inclusive, working with displaced people at every stage of response: facilitating jobs and livelihoods for refugees, internally displaced people, migrants and host communities.



Excerpt of: GPA (2022) The State of the Humanitarian Energy Sector: Challenges, Progress and Issues in 2022. Global Platform for Action on Sustainable Energy in Displacement Settings. UNITAR Publishing. Geneva, Switzerland.


Download the full document.



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