UNHCR is setting a bold agenda to address the energy needs of refugees and host communities, while seeking to reduce our own environmental footprint.
Improving access to a clean and sustainable source of energy can transform broken lives. It can power health centres and ensure that life-saving medication is refrigerated. Street lighting allows people to move around camps in greater safety at night, particularly women and girls, and solar-powered lamps mean they can work, cook, study, socialize and continue with their lives long after the sun has gone down. With a clean, sustainable fuel, or fuel-efficient technologies, refugees can cook meals and avert the malnutrition and ill-health that may occur when using open fires.
Increasingly there is a global recognition that the impact of climate change and environmental destruction are most acutely experienced by the world’s most vulnerable, and that current energy generation and consumption habits in displacement settings are not sustainable and need to change.
In this context, UNHCR has released its Global Strategy for Sustainable Energy for 2019 to 2025.
The Strategy focuses on two mutually-reinforcing goals. Firstly, to improve refugees’ protection and wellbeing; and secondly, to reduce the environmental impact of refugee operations through a transition to clean energy solutions.
Building on experiences and best practices at the regional and country levels, the Strategy promotes four strategic action areas:
- Addressing refugee households´ energy needs from the onset of an emergency;
- Improving access to sustainable, safe and affordable household cooking energy;
- Expanding sustainable household electrification;
- Expanding sustainable electrification of community facilities, while limiting overall consumption.
Partnership is critical to successfully deliver on this strategy – between the public and private sectors, the international community and host governments. While UNHCR will continue to implement energy programmes directly and through partners, UNHCR will seek to encourage others to intervene in order to meet the energy needs of both refugees and host communities.