The goal of providing sustainable energy to all is highly dependent on the interactions between policy, technology and finance. This week, the Second Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Forum took place at UN headquarters in New York City. The Global Environment Facility (GEF), a longtime supporter of numerous energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, announced a series of proposals and ideas for the next four years to help advance SE4ALL’s mission.
GEF CEO Naoko Ishii, in attendance at the Forum, highlighted its role as “a strong rallying point, allowing the GEF and partners to identify several accelerator programs to support the accomplishment of SE4All goals”. Ms. Ishii highlighted that we are entering into “a new era of global cooperation on energy, among other key areas, where multi-stakeholder coalitions and platforms are emerging.” The GEF presented a new planned program on Sustainable Cities, and new ways that the GEF is engaging the private sector in the 2014-2018 period, during which the GEF will support climate change mitigation and adaptation through $3 billion projects and programs.
The GEF expressed its support for energy efficiency accelerator programs, namely the (i) Energy Efficient Equipment and Appliances Accelerator (such as fans, lighting and motors, with UNEP); the (ii) Energy Efficiency Financing Facility (helping local banks in China, India, and Brazil, with EBRD); the (iii) Global Fuel Economy Initiative (for fuel efficient light duty vehicle, with UNEP); and the (iv) International Lighting Efficiency Facility (LED street lighting, with World Bank). With over $5 million in direct investment, GEF partners are able to leverage at least $500 million in co-financing.
Sustainable Cities Integrated Approach Pilot
The new Sustainable Cities program for the sixth replenishment cycle of the GEF will be presented for GEF Council approval in the next couple of weeks. Total GEF financing would include $142 million, with co-financing estimated at $1.48 billion to promote sustainable urban planning in 23 cities in 11 countries. The program will seek to address challenges in cities in an integrated way, such as limited spatial and infrastructure planning to guide effective and efficient investments, or lack of coordination on land use planning between national and local levels.
As a strong supporter of countries efforts’ through country-owned projects, the GEF highlighted the important role to be played by governments in developing policies and strategies that prioritize low-carbon and resilient infrastructure. This includes shifts in power generation (moving towards renewable and energy efficiency instead of coal), buildings and urban planning (energy efficient and compact growth instead of sprawling urban areas), and transport (public transit-oriented instead of highways).
Private Sector Engagement
Essential to achieving SE4ALL goals is an effective engagement of the private sector through risk-sharing, coalition building, and innovative business models to catalyze trillions of dollars. In late 2014, the GEF launched a $110 million non- grant pilot program to demonstrate and validate the application of non-grant financial instruments to combat global environmental degradation. Resources from the pilot can be used for projects that deliver global environmental benefits in one or several of GEF’s areas of work, including energy efficiency. Ms. Ishii also highlighted the role of governments in influencing the direction of private finance by setting regulatory frameworks, incentives, and other policy measures; supporting technology development, as well as setting the right price on carbon.