The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), with financial support from the Austrian Development Agency, are preparing to establish a Himalayan Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.
The centre will help address the complex development and energy challenges of the mostly peri-urban and rural areas of the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, which is home to more than 200 million people, covering all or parts of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.
According to Martin Lugmayr, a UNIDO sustainable energy expert, there is a strong demand for decentralized sustainable energy solutions in the HKH region, especially in the off-grid mountain areas, to promote social development and increase the productivity of industrial key sectors, such as food- processing and high-value niche products and services. However, said Lugmayr, a broad range of barriers, including policy and regulatory obstacles, out-dated technology and a lack of capacity and of finance, have prevented the region from taking full advantage of existing and potential renewable energy sources.
“The centre will scale up ongoing national efforts in the areas of technology demonstration, investment and business promotion, rural energy policy development and implementation, capacity development, and knowledge and data management, as well as awareness-raising. It will also act as a regional hub of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) excellence in the region,” said Bikash Sharma, an ICIMOD environmental economist.
The centre will be part of the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres which is coordinated by UNIDO, in partnership with relevant regional organizations. The network is currently supported by around 90 ministers of energy and heads of governments from sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab region, the Asia/Pacific region, and the Central America and Caribbean region.