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

Statement by Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States

14 October 2020 
New York, USA

Ladies and gentlemen,

Greetings to all.

We are here together united by our conviction and shared goal that we must advance the access to renewable energy in the least developed countries. We all know that access to renewable energy  is crucial to advance almost all the SDGs. 

In June this year, UN-OHRLLS together with IRENA, UNIDO and the Rocky Mountain Institute, released a Policy Brief on advancing SDG 7 on Energy in the least developed countries.

The findings are unequivocal. Yes, the LDCs have made significant progress to achieve SDG7 over the last decade but they cannot do this alone. The least developed countries need strong support from all their partners to scale up and speed up efforts.

The good news is, with the right policy frameworks for renewables and finance, LDCs can move rapidly towards a future of clean, affordable electricity for all.

The ongoing COVID pandemic has unmasked many inequalities. The pandemic has unmasked how we cannot separate public health from access to energy , to food, to water - in short, the energy cross-sector linkages are very apparent and  energy access takes centre-stage.

As admittedly slowly countries move from crisis response to recovery, we now must integrate sustainable energy as part and parcel of recovery programmes.

We cannot miss this opportunity and this will  help economies to bounce back quicker and build inclusive, sustainable and resilient futures.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Integral to this effort is that we must continue to strive for limiting the global temperatures below 1.5 degree Celsius. 

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our age. Two-thirds of  greenhouse emissions can be attributed to  energy-related sources. Renewable energy and energy efficiency form the cornerstone of the global climate mitigation strategy.  LDCs need urgent and enhanced support of the international community on both these fronts. LDCs have contributed the least to global emissions.

We have  together an opportunity to raise their climate ambition through enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement and at the same time support job creation in the renewables and energy efficiency sectors in LDCs.

The deployment of modern renewables is lagging far behind its potential in the least developed countries.

Harnessing this potential is critical to leapfrog straight to renewables.

Let us be reminded of what happened in communication technologies. Many countries  skipped fixed lines to go straight to mobile technology !

This leap enabled countries to skip costly infrastructure investments in land lines and move straight to digital technologies.

This triggered economic and social development benefits to millions and contributed to reducing poverty within and across countries.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Non-renewable energy capacity is growing faster than renewables in LDCs, partly due to lack of accessible finance. Thus, many LDCs have not been able to benefit from falling costs of renewables.

This does not have to be so. New technologies in off-grid and mini-grid solutions provide more cost-competitive options for improving energy access, especially in rural settings.

But it takes Innovative partnerships.

It takes investment in  gathering up-to- date and reliable data on the energy needs and generation potential in LDCs.

It takes  creating an enabling policy environment, legislation that are predictable and stable to attract investments.

The Malawi Energy Investment Study mentioned earlier by Ambassador Ligoya holds important lessons that other LDCs could also benefit from. The case of Malawi holds true for many LDCs. The case shows how critical capacity building and increased technical assistance  are and particularly so to improve the pipeline of projects ready for investment. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

The COVID pandemic is a game changer. It is up to us to now fashion recovery in ways to build inclusive and sustainable futures.

It is now that the measures to safeguard and promote renewable energy have to be put in place.

We need to create enabling environments, improve access to public finance as well as private investments.

The pandemic has grown the global momentum for a clean energy transformation. 

We must capitalize on this momentum and accelerate the energy transition in LDCs.

I now look forward to the upcoming presentations and discussions on opportunities for strengthening cooperation with IRENA in harnessing the renewable energy potentials in the LDCs.

OHRLLS will continue to be by your side.

I thank you.