Parliamentarians Discuss Investments in Renewables at IRENA Legislators Forum


Convening over 100 legislators from over 50 countries, IRENA hosted its 6th Legislators Forum virtually on 13 January 2021 at the sidelines of the Eleventh Session of the IRENA Assembly. Living up to its consultative nature, the Forum provided a structured platform for dialogue on parliamentary action to promote investments in renewables and also set the stage for practical and actionable financing solutions to address global challenges including the recovery from COVID-19.

“All countries have some indigenous renewable potential to harness”, said Francesco La Camera, IRENA’s Director-General opening the Forum. “The key is to find the right avenues to take advantage of these potentials for sustainable energy services that are secure, bring local jobs, stimulate economies, and improve human welfare. Investment is a crucial piece of the puzzle and often the main barrier to taking full advantage of this potential.”

The Director-General highlighted that investment and project facilitation are priority areas for IRENA, citing the Agency’s partnership with UNDP and Sustainable Energy for All, in collaboration with the Green Climate Fund, under the Climate Investment Platform. The Platform works to mobilise climate finance to support countries with their energy transition.

“As countries are now resetting their priorities and reallocating resources to deal with COVID-19, there is an urgent need for recovery strategies that are aligned with sustainable development pathways that ensure human and environmental well-being,” said Martin Chungong, the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. “Through their legislative budgetary oversight and representation functions, Parliaments are in a unique position to ensure that responses to the pandemic scale up investments in renewable energy and facilitate a global energy transition.”

The first of the event’s two panel discussions was dedicated to analysing renewable energy as an enabler to rebuild better after COVID-19. The four-person panel discussion was followed by interventions from participating Legislators who shared their experiences, questions, and concerns on the topic. The second session also opened with a panel discussion focused on the sub-theme “accelerating the energy transition by scaling up investments for renewables”. Interventions followed.

Very early in the discussions, access to modern and sustainable energy services was identified as an area of high concern considering the current global health and economic crisis. To this effect, the 2021 virtual edition of the IRENA Legislators Forum explored short- and medium-term actions that parliamentarians can promote to mobilise and increase investments in the renewable energy sector, both at local and national level. These actions aim to enable services that offer a range of benefits including significant economic and employment opportunities, improve healthcare services and address climate change together with challenges and opportunities in the agriculture sector.

Participants to the 2021 IRENA Legislators Forum renewed their commitment as Parliamentarians in promoting the deployment of renewable energy projects and supporting the scaling up of renewable investments to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the targets set by the Paris Agreement. This commitment included the promise of enabling a cleaner, greener and more efficient future for their countries while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this regard, legislators also expressed need and appreciation for IRENA’s role in enabling national legislative and policy frameworks that support the deployment of renewable energy and welcomed the suite of project facilitation services developed by IRENA as toolset to support countries with their energy transitions.

Legislators also recognised the need for multilateral partners to support countries in systematically and coherently addressing barriers to the achievement of a steady pipeline of investor-ready and scalable projects, while also tabling the opportunities that renewables can bring especially during the pandemic.

Participants also emphasised that the shift to renewable-based energy systems requires the need to mobilise capital not only from private actors but also from institutional investors, such as pension plans, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, and foundations and endowments. It was also highlighted by legislators that public funds should prioritise investments to drive a wider structural shift and foster national and regional energy transition strategies as a decisive step in building resilient economies and societies.

With renewed commitments, it is encouraging that Legislators will continue to mobilise and enable capital not only from private actors but also from public players at much more intensive rates than before. IRENA will continue to further support dialogue and co-operation with parliamentarians and parliamentary associations to accelerate the energy transition.

Further insights and material, including the recording, on the 2021 IRENA Legislators Forum, are available here.