The need for cross-sector partnerships to provide sustainable energy solutions to the poor is more pressing than ever in the Asia-Pacific region, where more than more than 800 million people have no access to energy, and nearly 1.8 billion people still rely on traditional biomass fuels to meet their cooking and heating needs.
During the Asia Clean Energy and Climate Week 2009, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) launched the Energy for All Partnership, which aims to provide access to modern energy to an additional 100 million people in the Asia-Pacific region by 2015. As a member of the Steering committee of the E4All, the WBCSD joined the launch event that took place at ADB's headquarters in Manila.
Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, ADB vice-president for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, speaking at the launch, said the Energy for All Partnership will emphasize low-cost, environmentally friendly technologies and innovative financing mechanisms that will enable even the poorest households to gain access to energy. This will have a significant impact on all households, especially on women and children and particularly regarding their health security.
“For households without energy, the benefits of access are immediate and life-changing,” said Ms. Schaefer-Preuss. “The benefits of modern energy extend across the spectrum of human development, from improved health, education and social equality, to increased economic opportunity and higher agricultural productivity."
The Energy for All Partnership will support an initial phase of six working groups – on domestic biogas, solar lanterns, liquid petroleum gas, financing for energy services, energy enterprise development, and the Pacific region – that will design and implement programs, such as increasing microfinance lending for energy investments, or replicating business models for private-sector service delivery, in high-impact areas.
The new partnership is funded by the ADB's Energy for All Initiative, a regional technical assistance program that is supported by the government of the Netherlands and is guided by a steering committee that brings together partners from business, governments, NGOs and international organizations, and includes ADB, e8, E+Co, GVEP International, the National Electrification Administration of the Philippines, ReEx Capital Asia, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore, The Energy and Resources Institute and the WBCSD. The ADB will host the partnership's secretariat for the next two years.
Throughout the Clean Energy and Climate Week, the private sector provided perspectives on the challenges and opportunities for scaling up the provision of affordable and clean energy solutions in both urban and rural areas. In a private-sector panel moderated by the WBCSD, Gatot Prawiro, GE Energy Asia, provided an overview of the innovative solutions the company is exploring to support sustainable development in the region. With the help of carbon finance and GE's Jenbacher gas engines, the company is transforming waste into a reliable source of energy and bringing about massive changes in the way many Asian countries supply energy. The panel concluded that given the appropriate policy frameworks, the Asia-Pacific region has the potential to become the “tiger” in the widespread delivery of low-carbon energy solutions in the years to come.
The Energy for All Partnership is a key pillar of the WBCSD's work on promoting the role of business in providing sustainable energy solutions and ultimately, a shift to a low-carbon economy in the developing world. The WBCSD is also engaged in improving access to energy in Africa through Energy Poverty Action, an alliance with the World Economic Forum and World Energy Council and initiated by Vattenfall , BC Hydro and Eskom, which aims to deliver business expertise and best practices to reduce energy poverty by developing innovative, scalable and replicable energy projects in rural areas.
At the heart of these initiatives is the understanding that to reach communities that do not have energy access today, new business models, supported by appropriate policy frameworks, are needed. The private sector has an important role to play in designing and delivering innovative solutions to bridge the “energy divide” and support a transition to a low-carbon energy future in the developing world.