14 February 2014

Africa: New Global Coalitions for Green Tech Solutions

New Delhi — The global community needs three kinds of new 'coalitions' of countries that can spur innovations and cut down costs in green technologies, and deliver affordable energy to all people, says Kandeh Yumkella, chief executive officer of the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

Yumkella told the 14th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit last week (6-8 February), that the proposed coalitions would help achieve the three goals of the UN initiative: end energy poverty, double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, and increase energy efficiency.

The coalitions would include one to reduce costs of green technologies, comprising the G-8 (group of top eight developed economies) and other countries with key research institutions. Another coalition for energy efficiency would comprise 23 countries that account for 80 per cent of the global energy demand but also 90 per cent of investments in green energy.

A third coalition, Yumkella said, would be made up of the emerging economies of Brazil, China, India and South Africa and those at a similar stage that could invest in renewable energy projects in developing countries.

The idea of forging new partnerships for green energy recurred throughout the conference. "To get out of the current lock-in situation we need new partnerships of top academics, top governments, top businesses, and top civil societies," said Pavel Kabat, director-general and chief executive officer of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Vienna.

Kabat also suggested new cross-sectoral partnerships that link energy and climate change; think-tanks, and methods to finance and subsidise green technologies.

Carlos Lopez, executive secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa, outlined a six-point strategy for Africa which, he said, was likely to outgrow Asia's growth rate in the coming decades and could be "part of the sustainable development solution even as it continues to grow."

One strategy, Lopez said, is investing in south-south partnerships, say with the Caribbean countries, and small island developing states, to help disaster risk management. The others are: leapfrogging all carbon-intensive growth pathways to clean growth and greater investment in climate science, services and data.

Linked to the theme of partnerships is the idea of a "nexus approach" between the energy, food and water sectors - three crucial areas where future unmet needs, especially of millions of poor people in developing countries, are a global concern and the focal theme of the conference.

Countries should adopt a nexus-oriented approach which integrates future measures of water and food demands; map available resources and their optimum allocation; as well as technology options and cost estimates, suggested Hinonari Hamnaka, chair of the board of directors at the Institute for Environment Strategies, Tokyo.

A version of this story was originally published on the South Asia edition.

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