Access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is not only part of SDG 7, but is also essential for achieving other SDGs and is at the centre of efforts to tackle climate change. However, the moderate growth rates of Sustainable Energy and Climate Technology (SECT) markets in many developing countries demonstrate that SDGs 7, 9, and 13 cannot be achieved by 2030 under business-as-usual scenarios. In this context, formal, informal, centralized and decentralized multi-stakeholder partnerships can leverage flexible networks and resources among a broad range of like-minded partners in both developing and developed countries. In addition, partnerships can become important accelerators and help to achieve economies of scale.
Towards a Solution
To address this challenge, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in partnership with sub-regional economic communities (RECs) and their Members States, established the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC), an innovative South-South and triangular multi-stakeholder partnership to accelerate the energy and climate transformation in developing countries. Since 2010, UNIDO has assisted RECs to establish and operate sub-regional sustainable energy promotion centres.
The gradually expanding partnership comprises a sub-network of centres for the African and the Arab region in cooperation with the East African Community (EAC), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Arab League and a sub-network for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in cooperation with SIDS DOCK1 , Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). Currently, the network is expanding to include Central America, Central Asia and the Himalaya-Hindukush region.
The regional sustainable energy centres aim to accelerate the energy and climate transformation by creating economies of scale and ensuring equal progress and spillover effects among countries. In partnership with Member States and other sub-regional players (e.g. power pools, utility organizations, regulatory authorities and regional banks), the centres work to create integrated regional markets for SECT products and services by setting targets, policies, standards and incentives, as well as de-risking of investments by providing reliable data, analytics, bundling of projects and convening power. Each centre has its own priorities depending on the demand in Member States.
SIDS DOCK is an initiative among member countries of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) to provide SIDS with a collective institutional mechanism to assist them in transforming their national energy sectors into a catalyst for sustainable economic development and help generate financial resources to address adaptation to climate change.
Some of the barriers to the development of SECT markets can be addressed more effectively and at lower cost at the sub-regional level. The GN-SEC centres play an important role in setting domestic priorities, contributing to donor harmonization and coordination, as well as ensuring the sustainability and availability of results and deliverables after project closure. The centres provide the RECs with the urgently needed technical capacities to coordinate and monitor the implementation of sub-regional energy and climate policies/regulations at the national level.
Moreover, GN-SEC centres serve as knowledge resource facilities and provide advice to Member States on how best to manage the transition towards sustainable energy. Through cross-border approaches and methodologies, the centres complement and accelerate national efforts in the areas of policy and regulation, capacity development, knowledge and data management, awareness raising, as well as the promotion of investment, innovation and entrepreneurship. The centres serve as a hub for all kinds of domestic and international partnerships.
The GN-SEC is currently becoming a formalized global platform to advocate for SDGs 7, 9 and 13, and joint interests in international policy processes. The platform is hosted by UNIDO in Vienna, Austria. It also provides a virtual market place for South-South cooperation activities and joint project proposals. For example, SIDS share similar challenges and opportunities in electric mobility and storage solutions. Least developed countries (LDCs) in sub-Sahara Africa share a common interest in renewable energy (hybrid) mini-grid development for rural electrification and productive uses. The platform also provides an interesting forum to exchange experiences and lessons learned on methodologies related to sub-regional cooperation and institution building.
The centres are advocates for a ‘New Deal’, in particular giving LDCs, landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and SIDS a stronger voice in shaping climate and technology transfer processes. The official mandate assigned by Ministers and Head of States, the intergovernmental character (based on international agreements) and the close link to the RECs and national ministries (through national focal points) give the centres legitimacy.
From the very beginning, the respective sub- regional organization and its Member State exercised ownership and leadership of the centres. The centres are well anchored in the sub-regional decision-making structure and usually report to the RECs and their Member States. The centres, which employ domestic staff and seconded international experts, are designed as hubs for all kind of domestic and international partnerships.
Name: Mr. Martin Lugmayr, Sustainable Energy Expert, Department of Energy, UNIDO
Sustainable Development Goal target(s): 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.a, 7.b, 9.1, 9.4, 9.a, 17.6, 17.7, 17.8, 17.9, 17.16
Supported by: Austrian Development Agency (ADA)
Implementing entities: UNIDO in partnerships with CARICOM, EAC, ECOWAS, ICIMOD, ICSHP, ISEC, SADC, SICA, SIDS DOCK
Project status: Ongoing
Project period: Phase I (July 2014 July 2016), Phase II (July 2016 June 2019)
URL of the practice: www.se4allnetwork.org