renewable energiesA large majority of the global population still has limited or no access to electricity, which impedes the possibility of technological advancement. This finding forms the centerpiece of the Technology and Innovation Report presented by UNCTAD in Geneva (November 29). The report focuses on the crucial role of renewable energy technologies (RETs) - innovations that can respond to “the dual challenge of energy poverty and climate change,” according to UNCTAD’s Secretary General, Supachai Panichpakdi. Panichpakdi called for the issue of energy poverty to be included on the agenda for the Durban Climate Change Conference. The report was launched in advance of the “How Emerging Economies Will Green the World” conference, jointly organized by UNCTAD and Energy Pact Foundation.

Recent findings by the International Energy Agency (IEA) highlighted that in 2010 over 20% of the global population (1.4 billion) lacked access to electricity. This scarcity complicates the process of industrialization and social development. The UN General Assembly declared 2012 as the “international year of sustainable energy for all.” In order to achieve this ambitious goal, however, and move closer to a global green economy, the report emphasizes the importance of the role of the international community. Specifically, UNCTAD recommends an increase in global support for RETs, including the creation of an international innovation network for the least developed countries and a technology transfer fund.

The report highlights the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach involving both the private and public sectors, as market-based mechanisms alone remain insufficient for national development. In order to reap the benefits of technology transfers, countries must have significant infrastructure and absorption capabilities. Developing country governments have a key role to play in promoting their transition to a green economy.     


(Photo © DR)