Scotland and UN ‘energy for all’ deal


People in Malawi and other developing countries will have better access to clean energy thanks to action by Scotland and the United Nations.

Scotland’s Sustainable Energy for All partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) will deliver sustainable energy to help some of the most disadvantaged communities across the developing world. It will cover everything from cooking to lighting for domestic to small-scale manufacture needs and renewable energy projects.

The development follows UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon praising Scotland’s ‘deep commitment’ to sustainable energy in a letter to the First Minister in March, when he invited Scotland to work with the UNDP.
Following discussions with the UNDP at the annual UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, Minister for Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse said:

“The climate negotiations are in the final crucial phase here in Doha. Making worldwide access to clean energy a reality is central to delivering green sustainable growth to developing countries, maintaining the post Rio+20 momentum. Our climate justice initiative is a new level of engagement to bridge the gap between developing and developed countries.

“Among the 65 developing countries that have committed to the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative objectives, including Malawi, many need support on sustainable energy.

“Scotland has many years of experience in renewables. We have a new target of 500MW of community and locally owned renewables by 2020, which could be worth up to £2.4 billion to our communities and rural businesses, while investing hundreds of millions in Scottish green energy projects.

“We have raised the bar with our commitment to act as an exemplar for community renewable projects both at home and internationally – and have already helped communities in Malawi and other countries develop ownership of community renewable energy schemes. As part of this new agreement we’ll capitalise on that good work, with a toolkit to support some of the world’s poorest communities develop their own renewable energy.

“UNDP currently has 1,500 community renewable energy projects – with everything from micro hydro to cooking stove initiatives. By partnering with them and sharing Scotland’s expertise we can make a real difference to developing countries across the globe.”

Veerle Vandeweerd , Director of UNDP Environment and Energy Group, said:

“Access to energy is critical to eradicating poverty and achieving Millennium Development Goals. There are almost three billion people who rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, and more than a billion without access to modern energy services.

“It is one of the most pressing global development challenges. UNDP welcomes the generous commitment of the Scottish Government to increasing access to clean and affordable energy and we look forward to working together.”

Mr Wheelhouse met with UNDP’s Director of Energy and Environment, Dr Veerle Vandeweerd at the UNFCCC in Doha to agree the next steps in Scotland’s partnership with the UN on Sustainable Energy.

The Scottish Government is developing a toolkit that will set out good practice drawn from its experience in Scotland, Malawi and other countries of how communities can develop ownership of community based renewable energy schemes both on-grid and off-grid.

By establishing a firm community basis for such schemes (which can include wind, solar or other forms of renewable energy) the community can improve their livelihoods and ensure the maintenance and sustainability of the projects. By choosing renewables, communities can have access to technologies which are appropriate to their needs, have low running cost and contribute to efforts against climate change. Already communities in Malawi have developed schemes which have improved school education and created employment opportunities, leading to a better quality of life and in line with the UN sustainable energy for all initiative.

Alongside development of the toolkit, the Scottish Government has agreed to provide two policy experts who can work with the Government of Malawi to help design a Renewable Energy and Climate Strategy for the country. This policy framework will help to create the long term regulatory and fiscal framework to incentivise private sector investment in renewables and the low carbon economy, as well as further stimulating community ownership of renewables. 

Scotland is already working with the EU and donors to disseminate this innovative approach with Governments in Malawi and elsewhere. Scotland will work with the UNDP to roll out this initiative in many countries and make a contribution to providing much needed energy and support global efforts to fight climate change.