The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the UAE have launched a new joint initiative “Beyond Food” to provide people in communities in low-resource settings globally with crucial access to sustainable energy for cooking.
By joining hands with Nama Women Advancement Establishment, the UAE and IRENA aim to foster cooperation and coordination in efforts to promote the deployment of clean cooking solutions across the world, in a bid to tackle one of the world’s most pressing human development challenges. The partnership aims to expand and bring in more key actors working on this issue in the coming days.
The Beyond Food initiative was launched during IRENA’s 7th Renewables Talks, held at Expo 2020 Dubai, which convened the Abu Dhabi-based agency’s Permanent Representatives (PRs) and ambassadors to discuss practical approaches to achieving enhanced clean cooking action.
“Ensuring universal access to affordable modern energy for cooking is a major global challenge with current efforts lagging far behind the targets set forth in the global agenda for sustainable development by 2030. This partnership seeks to advance the financing needed to bolster the deployment of clean cooking solutions while putting the issue at the forefront of the global development agenda in this critical decade of action.”
Currently, more than 2.6 billion people still rely on traditional fuels for their cooking needs. Access to clean and affordable energy for cooking lags well behind the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 target of providing access to clean energy to all by 2030.
Speaking on the launch event, Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to IRENA, said, “It is alarming that globally nearly one out of every three people today still lack the resources or the infrastructure for a clean cooking environment, relying on cooking fuels like charcoal, wood, and kerosene. The consequences of this are two-fold: firstly, it creates and perpetuates unhealthy living environments, and secondly, it actually increases harmful carbon emissions.”
Dr. Al-Hosany further added that finding innovative ways to help people benefit from cleaner food systems, agriculture and livelihoods is essential to ensuring long-term sustainable human development.
Ms. Reem bin Karam, Director of Nama, said that nearly 4 million people a year die from illnesses linked to cooking with polluting fuels, and women are most affected, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The linkages between cooking, gender equality, health, the environment, and a changing climate cannot be denied or overlooked.
“Our participation in this initiative will ensure women are actively involved in the development of gender-sensitive strategies for cleaner and more efficient cooking technologies, but also in achieving the UN’s goal of universal access to clean cooking by 2030,” Ms. Karam stated.
Empowering communities with cleaner cooking technologies and tools is also crucial to achieving many of the 17 SDGs. That includes reducing emissions from cooking to achieve greater health and well-being (SDG3), eradicating energy poverty and ensuring sustainable energy security for billions of people (SDG7) and slashing the 25 percent of black carbon emissions that come from current methods of cooking to help accelerate climate action (SDG13), among others.