UNDP and Korea push forward energy access plan for Asia's poor
Over forty Korean and international experts gathered in Seoul today to push forward a Korea-UNDP partnership to boost energy access for the poor in the Asia-Pacific region.
UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre champions the Asia-Pacific Energy Plus Innovation initiative, which aims to harness innovative energy related ideas and solutions. The initiative was conceived at a workshop hosted by the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre and the Green Technology Centre of Korea in Seoul, in April 2013.
"Building on the work with our partners, the Green Technology Centre of Korea, we’ve begun building our network to boost sustainable, affordable energy access in our region," said Seoul Policy Centre Director Alvaro Pinto-Scholtbach.
"We have the will, the knowledge and the expertise. It’s time for practical progress for Asia’s poor," he said.
Ramya Gopalan, a Knowledge and Innovation Specialist in UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre, explained the extent of the challenge:
"Energy underpins virtually everything we do. Despite spectacular development progress, more than half of the world’s energy poor still live in the Asia-Pacific Region."
1.9 billion people lack access to clean cooking facilities and almost 630 million lack access to electricity in the Asia-Pacific region. "The lack of access to electricity deprives them of opportunities to earn a living," Ms. Gopalan said.
Based on current investment levels, projections show that 545 million people in the region will still not have access to electricity by 2030. To ensure sustainable energy access for everyone by then, investment should increase by at least fourfold.
Thiyagarajan Velumail, UNDP Asia-Pacific Energy Adviser, underlined the importance of adopting a ‘business unusual’ approach in boosting energy access and cited the need to increase investment for energy access and productive energy use, particularly for those at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
Workshop participants also put forward the idea of a Trust fund to ensure long term funding for energy access projects across the region.
45 international and Korean experts took part in today’s workshop, with participants from Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the Korea EXIM bank, KOICA; Korea’s development agency, the Green Technology Centre, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre and a range of UNDP Asia-Pacific country offices.
The workshop comes immediately before the Seoul Science and Technology Forum, which will bring international and Korean experts together to discuss the role of technology in sustainable human development worldwide.