Unlocking climate action: Why cities are at the forefront

18 Oct 2016 by Bahareh Seyedi, Policy Specialist, Climate Change, Energy and Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP

By 2060, more than a billion people will be living in cities in low-lying coastal zones, the vast majority in developing countries. Photo: Igor Rugwiza/MINUSTAH
Tehran, Managua, Vancouver, Manila, Montreal, Ouagadougou, New York: seven cities I love and have had the pleasure of living in! Each is rich in beauty, history, and culture, and has its own unique urban characteristics. But there is a shared threat faced by these cities that if left unaddressed has the ability to jeopardize their entire existence. The threat of climate change. From droughts, storms, and heat waves, to floods and hurricanes, these cities are all exposed to risks from climate hazards and natural disasters in one way or another. My hometown, Tehran, is at serious risk of water scarcity, with its major reservoirs reaching critically low levels in the past couple of years due to reduced rainfall and increase in temperature. … Read more

Here's to being called Ms. Cookstove for years to come

11 Dec 2015 by Kidanua Abera, Programme Analyst, Energy and Low Carbon Development, UNDP

Members of the Ethiopian government look at cookstove technology on a UNDP-supported experience sharing visit to India. Photo: UNDP Ethiopia
For the past few years, I’ve proudly been referred to in our office as ‘Ms. Cookstove’. I joined UNDP to work on the carbon market, specifically the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) capacity building programme for Eastern and Southern Africa. When people talk about international carbon trading, they usually talk about ‘big’ emitting industries. But in 2010, I learned about the importance of seemingly ‘small’ but equally devastating emitters such as the traditional three-stone open fire cooking method, used by the majority of rural households in Ethiopia. Three billion people across the world use this method of cooking, which not only contributes to serious health problems, but also contributes significant levels of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. … Read more

Cooperation and sharing can help combat climate change

27 Nov 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Chinese landscapeChina has pledged RMB 20 billion (US$3.13 billion) to support other developing countries in combating climate change through South-South cooperation. Photo: UNDP China
Around the world, countries are working towards ways to reduce climate change. And while individual countries must take into account local contexts, it is unnecessary to always “reinvent the wheel” with each new solution. Through the South-South cooperation (SSC), UNDP connects various stakeholders to form partnerships across the developing world for pursuing these solutions. On climate change and environmental sustainability, UNDP delivers a portfolio of US$2.3 billion, supporting over 140 countries in pursuing low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways. A central element of this work is South-South cooperation … Read more

Climate investment: burden or benefit for the poor?

30 Oct 2015 by Angelica Shamerina, Program Advisor for Climate Change and Regional Focal Point (Latin America and Caribbean), GEF Small Grants Programme

men in riverCommunity members work on a small hydro installation as part of the Small Grants Programme in the Dominican Republic.
Over time, most arguments against climate action have been pushed to the margins—we now have widespread acceptance of climate change’s threats and impacts, as well as an understanding of the mitigation and adaptation measures that need to be taken. However, one argument has stubbornly remained: that the issue is simply too costly to address. Thankfully, this thinking is starting to change. Technological advances, a better understanding of the relationship between energy access and poverty, and the importance of off-grid, low carbon solutions have all helped show that climate action is not a burden, but rather an essential aspect of poverty reduction. Indeed, prominent development thinkers argue that low carbon development is itself a path to growth. … Read more

Making energy efficiency visible

23 Oct 2015 by Marina Olshanskaya, Regional Technical Advisor, Energy, Infrastructure, Technology and Transport, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

kids in classroomIn an Uzbekistan school, the implementation of simple energy efficiency measures increased the classroom’s temperature from 10°C to 20°C, making for a much more comfortable learning environment. Photo: UNDP
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their perspective on issues of climate change, in the lead up to COP21 in December. The buildings where we live and work are responsible for over one-third of global energy needs and a correspondingly high share of CO2 emissions. Improving the energy efficiency in buildings is one of the most cost-effective climate mitigation solutions we have: one “negawatt” of saved energy costs much less to produce than generating a new watt from conventional or even alternative energy sources. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, there is a vast number of highly inefficient buildings, and a tremendous potential for greenhouse gas emission reduction and the production of negawatts. … Read more

Geothermal energy, a bet on the future

17 Sep 2015 by Leo Isidro Heileman, Resident Representative, UNDP in Comoros

The Karthala volcano, ComorosThe Karthala volcano, peaking at 2361 metres altitude, is a clean and sustainable energy reservoir, hitherto unexplored. Photo: UNDP Comoros
In the Comoros, a small southwestern island nation in the Indian Ocean, electricity is almost 100 percent from fossil fuels, and the government is struggling to meet the energy needs of the country’s 700,000 inhabitants. For example, the people in the capital Moroni have just over five hours of electricity a day. In the three islands of the archipelago, the rates of access to electricity do not exceed 50 percent which inevitably impacts the economic activities of the country. But there are solutions. Located on the island of Grande Comore (Ngazidja) is the Karthala volcano, a clean and sustainable energy reservoir, unexplored to date. This active volcano – its last eruption was 2007 – rises 2,361 metres above sea level and could shift from a pervasive threat into opportunity for development. … Read more

UNDP missions powered by the sun

03 Aug 2015 by William Allen, Communications Specialist, UNDP

workers install solar panelsWorkers install solar panels on the roof of the UNDP offices in Sierra Leone.
UNDP offices are looking to the sky to power their programmes. It's interesting to see what we have already accomplished, and how much more we can do. Solar power is a champion for many of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, including targets for resilient cities, infrastructure, and sustainable energy. It is a key to our global warming crisis, especially for sun-filled regions of the world. It creates an energy-independent environment with less noise and air pollution and sustainable, outage-free workplaces for UNDP and its partners. … Read more

Sustainable energy, climate change and disasters

18 May 2015 by Martin Krause, Head of Global Energy Policy and Regional Climate, Energy and Disaster Resilience Team Leader for Europe and Central Asia

Man lighting an improved wood stoveEnergy efficient cook stoves require less wood or charcoal and thus reduce deforestation and land degradation, helping to avert landslides and floods. Photo: UNDP Burundi
In 2007, a lack of rainfall resulted in low water levels in rivers and lakes in Albania, severely hampering hydropower generation and resulting in frequent power outages across the country. Examples such as this exemplify the relationship between energy and development, highlighting how insufficient and intermittent energy access hampers development progress. … Read more

Latin America at a crossroads on climate and access to energy

22 Sep 2014 by Susan McDade

Woman in front of her fridge in Nicaragua About 10 million people, mostly rural poor, have gained access to modern energy services through UNDP-supported projects over the past decade. Photo: UNDP IN nICARAGUA
World leaders gathered at the Climate Change Summit  during the United Nations General Assembly have a crucial opportunity. In addition to mobilizing political will and advancing solutions to climate change, they will also need to address its closely connected challenges of increasing access to sustainable energy as a key tool to secure and advance gains in the social, economic and environmental realms. This is more important than ever for Latin America and the Caribbean. Even though the region is responsible for a relatively low share of global greenhouse gas emissions - 12 percent according to UN figures - it will be one of the most severely affected by temperature spikes.  And the region faces new challenges. Demand for electricity is expected to double by 2030, and, although nearly 60 percent is generated from hydroelectric resources, the share of fossil fuel-based generation has increased substantially in the past 10 years, mainly from natural gas.  Now is the time for governments and private sector to invest in sustainable energy alternatives—not only to encourage growth while reducing carbon emissions, but also to ensure access to clean energy to around 24 million people who still live in the dark. Latin America and the Caribbean is … Read more

How can we ‘walk the talk’ towards sustainable energy for all

04 Jun 2014 by Arun Kashyap, Resident Coordinator & Resident Representative

solar panelsUNDP and other sister UN agencies in Jamaica are using solar power for a green energy environment. Photo: UNDP Jamaica
Jamaica is an inefficient user of electricity, according to a recent Worldwatch Institute’s report. High energy costs, including electricity at $0.42 per kilowatt-hour, are increasingly becoming a burden for Jamaicans, directly affecting the country’s development. Jamaican citizens as well as the Government, are demanding and encouraging lower energy costs through new alliances with businesses and institutions to implement energy conservation measures while boosting the use of alternative energy sources. We’re in this together. UNDP has supported the Government’s Energy Policy roadmap 2009-2030 to transform the sector through energy efficiency and diversification. It commits to a minimum target of 30 percent renewable energy in its portfolio by 2030, in line with the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  We have also supported the National Energy Action Plan to improve energy efficiency and conservation. Energy affects us all, including our own UNDP bills. In line with what we preach, our office decided to “walk the talk” and pursue a clean energy path. This included applying a ‘cool roof’ technology in our UNDP Kingston office. Nearly 464 square metres of metal sheet roof were treated to cool down office temperatures by 5-10 degrees—greatly reducing the use of air conditioning. Additionally, over 600 … Read more