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Synergizing efforts to move forward a sustainable energy agenda

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Fifteen-man Bja (yak hair tent) with a solar panel, Bhutan. Photo: Nakul Chettri/ICIMOD

A centre of excellence on Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) was launched on Tuesday at ICIMOD to improve access to modern, affordable and reliable energy services in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region.

The centre, called Regional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Capability for the Hindu Kush Himalaya (REEECH), aims to deliver innovative and sustainable energy solutions in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation to meet the social and economic development needs of mountain populations.

Energy is crucial for economic growth and strengthened resilience. ‘Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’ – the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 – however, has been especially elusive for the Hindu Kush Himalaya region, where energy poverty is shockingly high. About 80% of the population don’t have access to clean energy and depend on biomass – mostly fuelwood – for both cooking and heating while vast hydropower potentials remain largely untapped.

To address this pressing need for more energy security in mountain societies and ecosystems in the HKH region, the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) has been supporting the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) to establish the regional centre of excellence on Sustainable Energy for All.

The REEECH initiative will function as a regional thematic hub under the umbrella of the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC), which is coordinated by the United Nations’ Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Its ultimate goal is to accelerate universal energy access in the HKH region and place mountain energy issues prominently on the global sustainable development and climate agenda.

Martin Ledolter, Managing Director of the Austrian Development Agency, emphasized the need for ensuring access to renewable energy services in order to advance sustainable mountain development. Martin said ,“Improving access to renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies is key to building climate-resilient mountain livelihoods across the Hindu Kush Himalaya region.”

ICIMOD’s Director General David Molden highlighted the significance of this initiative for the region, “As a global community, we have the knowledge to solve problems of energy poverty. We know that solar, wind, biogas, micro-hydro, and micro-grid renewable energy technologies can be effective.”

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