NEW YORK – 24 September 2021 – Today at a United Nations (UN) energy summit, the UN as well as a group of international organizations and governments announced a compact to help UN peacekeeping missions transition to renewable energy. The initiative responds to the UN Secretariat’s commitment to source 80% of its power from renewable energy by 2030, which hinges overwhelmingly on peacekeeping operations.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare said: “Our focus on improving the effectiveness and operational resilience, and on reducing our environmental footprint through the Secretary-General's Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) as well as our six-year Environment Strategy (2017-2023), has enabled peacekeeping missions to implement more renewable energy projects. In countries emerging from conflict where access to resources is limited, finding opportunities for synergy between UN peace operations’ renewable energy transition and the 2030 SDG agenda and exploring creative ways in which we can leave a positive legacy is an imperative. This compact is a great step in this direction, strengthening the ongoing collaboration with host nations and creating an opportunity for peace operations to support the host nation's electrification plans through renewable energy projects.”
H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister for Political Affairs and Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, said: “Renewable energy offers the UN community an exceptional opportunity to simultaneously strengthen our peacekeeping operations and deliver a positive legacy for host communities. Today launches a process to identify where renewables can lower costs and risks and then harness that potential for local market development.”
The compact – presented at the UN’s High-Level Dialogue on Energy by the UN Departments of Operational Support (UNOPS) and Peace Operations (UNDPO), the United Arab Emirates, Norway, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and a number of member states – seeks to displace diesel through UN procurement of renewable energy in host markets. Results from UN peace operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and Somalia, among others, have shown that renewable energy reduces operational costs, security risks associated with fuel convoys, and greenhouse gas emissions, while enhancing infrastructure for host countries.
H.E. Mona Juul, Permanent Representative of Norway to the UN, underlined that “not enough attention is paid to renewable energy in peace operations, despite its critical role and the opportunities it offers for a broad range of stakeholders. It can act as an enabler for the UN to reach its climate goals, for peace operations to adapt to a security landscape that is increasingly impacted by climate change and to leave a positive legacy behind”.
UN peacekeeping operations consume about 500 gigawatt-hours per year of energy, concentrated in six major peacekeeping missions. They are often among the largest energy consumers in their host countries, potentially providing an opportunity to anchor emerging renewable energy capacity that can be sustained beyond the lifetime of the mission. Missions are also among the largest greenhouse gas emitters, making them integral to some host governments’ efforts to achieve their Paris Agreement goals. Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA, said: “The peacekeeping operation shift to renewable energy is more than reducing the carbon footprint. It is a vital building block for creating local markets and a contribution to long-term sustainable development.”
Key upcoming milestones for the compact include the UN peacekeeping ministerial in the Republic of Korea this December and the IRENA Assembly in January 2022.