Partnership aims to provide sustainable energy for all in Latin America

A man next to a solar panel in Bolivia. A new partnership aims to make providing sustainable energy a priority in Latin America. Photo by: Patricia Rincon-Mautner / IDB

Sustainable energy is now a major priority for key multilateral development institutions working in Latin America.

After two and a half years of consultations, the Inter-American Development Bank, U.N. Development Program and U.N. Economic Social Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean are partnering to boost access to energy services in Latin America, as well as double the share of renewable energy and the rate of energy efficiency — three goals outlined by U.N. secretary-general’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

Officials from the IDB, UNDP, ECLAC, as well as the U.N. initiative’s global facilitation team gathered Monday at IDB’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to declare the partnership and their commitment to sustainable energy in the region.

Susan McDade, UNDP deputy director of the regional bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, told Devex that between 25 million and 30 million people in Latin America live without access to electricity, while about 70 million cook with traditional fuels such as wood, dung or leaves.

The new partnership will include a push for wind and solar energy in the region, according to McDade.

“It’s not principally a financial commitment,” McDade said, adding that “this is an agreement to work together to shift the energy path and to do joint development work.”

The aim is to facilitate changes to laws and regulatory systems that can be barriers to private sector investment in renewable energy.

“The real money doesn’t end up coming from the U.N. or from the IDB. The real money comes from private sector investors, but right now it doesn’t flow to the countries that don’t have those frameworks,” McDade said.

Work at the country level to facilitate renewable energy investment is already in the works according to McDade, who said that the next step will be to release a U.N. publication profiling the energy infrastructure of Latin America in order to understand who has access and who doesn’t, where energy is needed, and how much it costs to bring renewable energy to these places.

The new partnership will also start “joint pre-investment work” in three countries, which will be named in May according to McDade.

What do you think about this new commitment to boost sustainable energy in Latin America? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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    Jeff Tyson

    Jeff is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, DC, he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the United States, and prior to joining Devex worked as a production assistant at National Public Radio. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Rochester.