2 December 2021

Beirut time


Renewable energy in rural development

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ESCWA is organizing an online regional workshop entitled “Policy toolkit as guidelines for policymakers to integrate small-scale renewable energy in rural development” on 2 December 2021 at 10:00 – 12:00 (Beirut Time). Under the “Regional Initiative for Promoting Small-Scale Renewable Energy Applications in Rural Areas of the Arab Region", the workshop aims to improve livelihoods, gender equality and social inclusion in rural Arab communities, particularly in marginalized groups.

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Outcome document

Key messages from the Regional Workshop on “Policy Toolkit as Guidelines for Policymakers to Integrate Small-Scale Renewable Energy in Rural Development

  • Focus on education as an enabler of rural women’s empowerment and economic development.
  • Leverage the power of renewable energy to pioneer and expand new economic activities in rural areas.
  • Produce and disseminate guidelines for rural areas to increase financing from institutions and private investors.
  • Guide municipalities, NGOs and civil society in how to bring together stakeholders to create local cooperatives in order to leverage economies of scale.
  • Integrate renewable energy technologies with rural development policy and environmental management and facilitate private sector investment, raise awareness and improve communication and data collection.
  • Produce pilot projects in agriculture to test new and innovative renewable-energy-based solutions for irrigation and other applications.
  • Mandate recurring quality control training sessions for companies, engineers, and technicians to increase their knowledge and efficiency as a prerequisite for license renewal.
  • Create a strategic framework for an Arab strategy on equitable rural renewable energy access and development that considers climate change and food security.

The opening presentation from ESCWA provided a comprehensive overview and highlighted the role of energy as an enabler of sustainable development within the region, the gaps between rural energy use and access, regional challenges to renewable energy technology adoption, obstacles facing women, best practices, business models and related policy needs. Within this context, the role of the REGEND toolkit was elaborated, including the project’s objectives based on know-how and an integrated approach. These include increasing the use of small-scale renewable energy technologies in rural areas in an equitable manner by creating regulatory and institutional frameworks and rural planning, guidelines for financing innovative incentive mechanisms, sharing best practices and indicators, and implementing gender-affirmative actions and incentives for women entrepreneurs, among others. The presentation concluded by providing a series of recommendations, including the need to leverage rural renewable energy to power economic development, particularly for women and girls, while increasing access to healthcare and education to bridge gaps.

The panel discussed a wide range of topics within the context of rural energy and sustainable development. Chief among them was the need for a regional strategy for rural renewable energy deployment, supported by ESCWA and partners, which takes all citizens into account, urban, rural, women and men, rich and poor. Projects and policies from around the region were shared, which focused on productive and sustainable agriculture and the water-energy-nexus, off-grid cooperatives forming small-scale renewable energy to benefit from solar photovoltaic and storage technologies, and educational programmes for companies, engineers and technicians among others. Energy reliability and affordability were key themes.

The discussion concluded by noting the need for capacity building, trainings, and bootcamps to increase the technical skills in rural areas, particularly for the poorest communities where heads of household are often women.

Questions from the audience touched on:

  • How the REGEND project is ensuring women’s empowerment and linkages with the SDGs.
  • The recent leap in awareness with regards to rural energy usage within the region.
  • Collaboration between ESCWA and its partners, including the League of Arab States and RCREEE.
  • How ESCWA is assisting other countries within the region in using the policy tools despite not taking part in the project (e.g. Sudan).
  • The project’s integrated approach for poverty and gender.
  • Working with partner organisations to implement the REGEND’s work in other countries, such as Sudan.
  • The role of microfinance in small-scale rural projects, including agriculture.
  • The power of establishing cooperatives in rural areas so that communities can increase their economic output while saving costs.
  • How to ensure REGEND’s sustainability and replicability beyond the project’s end date.
  • Capacity building and ESCWA’s online platform which provides flexible tools.

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