IRENA and UAE launch Beyond Food partnership
Mita Srinivasan
10x Industry

IRENA and UAE launch Beyond Food partnership

New initiative aims to provide clean cooking energy and technologies to communities and households. Empowering communities with cleaner cooking technologies and tools is also crucial to achieving many of the 17 SDGs including reducing emission from cooking, eradicating energy poverty and ensuring sustainable energy security to help accelerate climate action.

United Arab Emirates and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) have launched Beyond Food, a new joint initiative that aims to provide people in communities in low-resource settings around the world with crucial access to sustainable energy for cooking.

In collaboration with Nama Women Advancement Establishment, the UAE and IRENA have teamed-up to foster cooperation and coordinated action 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.

Today, 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.

HE 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. Finding innovative ways to help people benefit from cleaner food systems, agriculture and livelihoods is essential to ensuring long-term sustainable human development. And I’m delighted to see that, with the launch of the Beyond Food initiative, the UAE is working with its international partners to do exactly that.”

Innovative solutions for electric cooking are increasingly viable, as well as commercially beneficial alternatives. Yet, while higher levels of investments flow towards renewable electricity projects, both on- and off-grid, the clean cooking sector attracts only a limited amount of international and local finance.

Her Excellency Reem Bin Karam, Director, Nama Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), added, “Without urgent action, the environmental, social, and health toll caused by household air pollution will continue to disproportionately affect women and children, who tend to gather the fuel and tend carbon-emitting stoves.”

Empowering communities with cleaner cooking technologies and tools is also crucial to achieving many of the 17 SDGs. That includes reducing emission 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.

Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, pointed out that “estimated financial losses worldwide form the use of traditional fuel for cooking are approximately $2.4 trillion, accounting for an adverse impact on health, loss of productivity and damage to the environment.”

Beyond Food was launched during IRENA’s 7th Renewables Talks, held at Expo 2020 Dubai, which convened IRENA’s Permanent Representatives and ambassadors to discuss practical approaches to achieving enhanced clean cooking action.