Regional Conference on Scaling up Sustainable Energy Solutions: Role of the Private Sector

Regional conference on sustainable energy and the role of private sector in Istanbul had people feeling, for lack of a better word, energized.

The event is organized with the partnership of UNDP, the Islamic Development Bank and the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. Robust discussions and keen insights from speakers and the nearly 200 participants made for a fascinating and thought-provoking first day.

The conference took place in the context of Europe and Central Asian countries’ commitments to expanding engagements on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy access in line with UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative.

The day started with an exciting announcement with Turkey declaring it had joined SE4ALL. This is a major step forward for the country and will strengthen its ability to achieve the ambitious national targets set by the government for reaching wind, solar and hydropower potentials by 2023.

The first session also opened with UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Cihan Sultanoğlu, who reminded the audience that 1.6 billion people in developing countries lack access to electricity.

“Their human development,” she said, “is obstructed by energy poverty.”

Ms. Sultanoğlu went on to discuss the region’s untapped potential to improve its energy supply security and standard of living through renewable energy. The private sector must be at the forefront, she remarked, in those countries looking to successfully scale up their use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.

Challenges and opportunities for sustainable energy investment in the region were also discussed in great detail.

A a report on the market and policy outlook in the region was also presented during the conference. The report explains the linkages between policy development and renewable energy deployment, while examining the barriers and opportunities associated to increased investments in renewable energy.

Afternoon sessions continued by exploring funding and investment perspectives in sustainable energy in the region. Project developers sat together with representatives of financing organizations such as International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Investment Bank, sharing best practices and the existing problems they face in financing sustainable energy projects.

For Patrick Willems, Program Manager of IFC’s Russia Renewable Energy Program, one of the biggest problems is the lack of a “vested interest in and absence to a long-term vision when it comes to energy policy. The only power required to move from fossil fuel power to renewable power, is brainpower.”