High-level Briefing to LDCs Group on Accelerating Sustainable Recovery with Renewable Energy

14 October 2020 |Virtual

On 14 October 11:00-12:00 EDT the permanent representatives of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to the United Nations gathered virtually to participate in the briefing on Accelerating Sustainable COVID-19 Recovery with Renewable Energy. The meeting was called by the Chair of LDC Group, H.E. Mr Perks Master Ligoya, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of the Republic of Malawi to the United Nations, and co-organised by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UNOHRLLS).

The briefing which aimed at showcasing the support provided by IRENA to the LDCs and identifying opportunities and modalities of cooperation was moderated by H.E. Sonam Wangdi, the Chair of the LDC Group in UN climate change negotiations.

Mr Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA opened the session highlighting that at a time of both COVID-19 and climate crisis, building back better with renewables as the most resilient energy source is paramount. IRENA's recent report on the Post-COVID Recovery shows that investments in energy transformation towards renewable energy pay off in short and the long term. Jobs in renewables can grow to some 30 million in 2030, almost three times the levels of 2018. The global GDP can be boosted by an additional average of 1.3% per year between 2020 and 2030. IRENA's latest analysis also finds that renewables are the least cost option of new power generation in most parts of the world.

But this positive global picture doesn't truly reflect the situation in LDCs. Only 52% of the overall LDC population have access to electricity. With non-renewable energy capacity growing faster than renewables, it is clear that many LDCs have not been able to benefit significantly from recent trends in technology development and falling costs. It is crucial more than ever that LDCs seize the opportunity to leapfrog straight to renewable technologies.

The recovery measures should be aligned with countries' renewable energy ambition as included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 2020 revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. All NDCs submitted by LDCs have energy targets and measures for renewable energy and energy efficiency. But LDCs cannot implement these measures alone. IRENA, with its nearly global Membership and close collaboration with the UN and all relevant stakeholders, stands ready to support LDCs in accelerating sustainable recovery with renewable energy.

H.E. Mr. Perks Master Ligoya reaffirmed that despite the extraordinary growth potential for the energy sector in LDCs, these countries rarely benefit from larger financing schemes to the same extent as other countries. The pandemic is most likely to disrupt the progress made in terms of energy access in LDCs. Going back to rebuilding an old energy system is, however, an enormous missed opportunity. Government of Malawi partnered with UNOHRLLS, UNDP and other stakeholders to launch a sustainable energy investment study, which offers the roadmap for the energy sector in Malawi. The study found that the country requires three billion USD of investment to meet its energy sector goals. Sustainable energy should further be a priority theme for the next ten years Programme of Action for LDCs, which will be adopted at the LDC V conference in 2022.

Ms Fekitamoeloa Katoa' Utoikamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States highlighted that access to energy is crucial to advance almost all of the SDGs. The deployment of modern renewables is lagging far behind its potential in the least developed countries. LDCs need strong support from all their partners, including innovative partnerships to scale up efforts to create enabling environments, improve access to finance and attract investments. With the right policy framework and investments for renewable as well as reliable data, LDCs can progress rapidly. UNOHRLLS stands ready to further cooperate with IRENA on technical assistance and capacity building in LDCs.

The technical presentations covered IRENA's support to LDCs on NDCs and beyond, presented by Country Engagement and Partnerships Division (CEP) as well as integrated renewable energy project facilitation support, delivered by Project's Facilitation and Support Division (PFS).

IRENA continues to support LDCs by providing advice and capacity building on stimulating post-pandemic recovery efforts through energy transformation. As a short-term action, the Agency is pursuing projects in different countries, including LDCs on nexus between energy and other social sectors like healthcare and food security. IRENA's project in Burkina Faso on the assessment of electrifying primary healthcare facilities is a part of its effort to support the over-burdened health sector. IRENA's viability assessment on renewables for agri and food sectors in the Hindukush Himalayas region covers LDCs like Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and Myanmar to improve the food value chains in the mountain communities.

The Agency continues to support countries on NDC enhancement, development of bankable projects and access to finance as well as technical-related aspects of renewable energy deployment. IRENA, in partnership with UNDP is pursuing the Climate Promise Initiative that aims to support around 100 countries in raising their renewable ambitions in 2nd NDCs. IRENA has also committed its support to NDC Partnership on its Climate Action Enhancement Package (CAEP) supporting around 26 countries under the initiative. IRENA's current engagement on NDCs covers more than 60 countries around the world, including 16 LDCs.

IRENA, along with SEforAll and UNDP, in collaboration with the GCF, also launched the Climate Investment Platform to help realise the ambitions of LDCs. The countries are invited to participate in the sub-regional investment forums. Organised by IRENA starting 2021, the forums aim to create enabling conditions, improve access to finance, build capacity and assist developers in the preparation of bankable renewable energy projects.

The moderator, H.E. Sonam Wangdi, concluded the session with three key outtakes. LDCs are facing exacerbated effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the preexisting socio-economic conditions. Nonetheless, LDCs have an immense opportunity to establish a more resilient future by adopting strategies to deploy renewables-based energy systems and linking the short-term recovery to medium and long-term objectives to ensure sustainable development and green growth.

NDCs serve as a foundation for medium to long term development. This year as governments review the implementation and objectives expressed to the Paris agreement, IRENA continues to render support to governments to establish or make upward adjustments on their renewable energy targets. In order to enhance implementation of renewable energy ambitions, there is a need to strengthen project development, facilitation and financing. IRENA aims to bridge this gap with its work and engagement.

See the concept note.

Contact nyoffice@irena.org