Partnership aimed at enhancing capacity and increasing sustainable energy access through an ecosystem approach in humanitarian settings
UNITAR, hosting the Global Platform for Action on Sustainable Energy in Displacement Settings (GPA) and SELCO Foundation with its Global SDG7 hubs initiative, have entered into a strategic partnership to enable the integration of sustainable energy solutions, with appropriate models, processes and learnings that can benefit communities living in humanitarian contexts.
The GPA, steered by 16 United Nations agencies and international NGOs, is a global initiative to promote actions that improve and increase sustainable energy access in displacement settings. SELCO Foundation and its Global SDG7 hubs initiative use a practitioner-driven approach to amplify developmental outcomes in the Global South using sustainable energy as a catalyst.
The 21st century has continued to see a rise in conflict and instability forcing communities out of their homes into humanitarian crises. In addition, the last two decades have witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of disasters including floods and extreme temperature events, caused in part by climate change. By the end of 2021, there were nearly 89.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, including refugees, asylum seekers, Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and other displaced people.
Sustainable energy can play a critical role in aiding humanitarian response, across time frames – from emergency to post emergency and protracted scenarios – to provide basic energy access, ensure reliable healthcare delivery and catalyse local livelihoods.. This includes, for example, solar powering disaster shelters, health facilities to provide immediate relief and emergency healthcare in disaster-affected areas, or solar charging stations in refugee and displacement settings to power basic lighting, mobile charging and ICT. These decentralized renewable energy-based solutions can reduce the time taken for communities to restart socio-economic activities in the aftermath of disasters and displacement, thereby building their resilience and creating safety nets.
It is in this context that the collaboration, which builds on the expertise of core partners, aims to strengthen the enabling ecosystem for sustainable energy in humanitarian settings and develop longer-term energy programmes that can catalyse developmental outcomes. The partnership seeks to do so by:
- Customizing tools and knowledge products for field-level assessments and solution development in humanitarian settings that benefit individual households, healthcare facilities, local livelihoods and micro entrepreneurs
- Engaging with key stakeholders, including local NGOs, UN agencies, local energy and technology enterprises to build capacity at various levels for replication of successful processes and institutionalize the energy ecosystem approach across varying humanitarian contexts
- Co-designing holistic energy programmes with on-ground partners to enable implementation of sustainable energy solutions for improvements in livelihoods, wellbeing and healthcare.
The SELCO Foundation and UNITAR have started to provide such support to the humanitarian sector through training practitioners on how to develop sustainable Energy Delivery Models, and through a mini-webinar series sharing knowledge on the energy-livelihoods nexus in humanitarian contexts. The partnership will build on this experience and streamline such support in the future for energy and humanitarian sector partners, aiming to unlock renewable energy solutions for emergency and conflict affected contexts.
Speaking about the collaboration, Huda Jaffer, Director, SELCO foundation said, “The partnership comes at an opportune moment. With millions of current and future populations being displaced by conflicts and natural disasters, there’s a need for greater collaboration between the humanitarian and sustainable energy sectors. This partnership will facilitate cross-regional learning and enhance the capacity of local champions and partners to design and deploy need-based, long term energy solutions. By developing local ecosystems for demand driven energy solutions, the effort aims to catalyse better health, livelihoods and overall well-being outcomes of refugee and host settlements.”
Building on the SELCO Foundation perspective, Thomas Fohgrub, Head of the GPA said, “At the global level, the past years have seen progress in the policy landscape to unlock the willingness and resources for achieving the global energy transition under SDG7 and for a more just and equitable response to refugee and displacement situations through the Global Compacts for Refugees and Migrants. This partnership between UNITAR and the SELCO Foundation connects those two agendas in practice, aiming to provide the technical support, training and enabling tools needed to the energy and humanitarian sectors to increase access to clean energy for refugee and hosting communities. SELCO Foundation is a thought leader on energy access solutions for communities that are at risk of being left behind, and we look forward to applying this knowledge into action for the displaced people we serve as well as their host communities.”
Through the partnership, the GPA and SELCO Foundation aim to increase energy access efforts and improve the sustainability of energy access interventions for and with displaced and host communities. These efforts will contribute to the ultimate goal of meeting wider sustainable development and improved quality of life outcomes, enabling greater service delivery of health, water and education services, and improving overall livelihoods and economic development within communities. Humanitarian organisations and displacement hosting governments interested in receiving technical assistance and training support are encouraged to reach out to find out more.