Sustainable Energy Solutions for Displaced People

Sustainable Energy for Displaced People

SDG 7 Enabling Cleaner and More Equitable Humanitarian Response

Unprecedented Migration due to Conflict and Crisis

Currently, the world is facing a significant migration challenge as we witness the highest level of displacement on record. 65.6 million people have been displaced from their home due to crisis or conflict, 22.5 million of which are refugees. At the same time, sustainable energy is well understood to be a driver or economic growth, social equity and environmental sustainability, yet 90% of refugees do not even have access to basic electricity for cooking, lighting, education or livelihood activities. This situation is often similar in the villages of the hosting regions.

Current Energy Provision in Displacement Settings

The current energy systems in most camps and premises for displaced people are powered by unsustainable diesel generators. An estimated $100 million a year is spent on diesel fuel for UNHCR alone. These old technologies and limited technical operational knowledge lead to unsustainable practices and unnecessary energy waste. Additionally, people living in camps often do not have access to basic electricity services or efficient cook stoves with sustainable fuel sources, exposing them to further vulnerability such as health problems from indoor smoke and exposure to sexual and gender based violence. This challenge will perpetuate without urgent action and created awareness.


Potential Economic and Sustainable Energy Solutions

With new renewable energy technologies and increased energy usage awareness, the transition to renewable, flexible sustainable energy systems from the current fossil fuel dependent systems is possible and economically viable with innovative financing and a multi-stakeholder approach. Providing training in host communities and refugee camps will not only facilitate implementing the energy transition, but also create jobs and added community value. In addition, this project provides specialized private companies the opportunities to connect economically viable, scalable renewable energy solutions to the dire need for clean energy in settings of displacement.


Project Objective and Impact

Greening the operations in humanitarian response as well as enabling clean cooking and small-scale household electricity solutions for displaced people can enable economic growth, create jobs, decrease environmental footprint, improve health conditions and allow long term cost savings. Implementing innovative green solutions and building capacities for both humanitarian organizations and displaced people around sustainable energy, this project ultimately seeks to take a more equitable, clean approach regarding energy to improve the quality of life for the world’s most vulnerable population.

UNHCR, IOM, UNITAR and other humanitarian actors conducted several pilot projects in the past. Now it’s time to upscale the efforts and deploy the renewable energy systems worldwide.


Thomas Fohgrub, UNITAR Renewable Energy Specialist

T: +41 22 917 89 29 | M: +41 78 802 40 05