Under the chapter on energy of the HABITAT AGENDA, UN-Habitat is mandated to:
- Promoting public profile of the issues through outreach to media, advocacy campaigns and the active involvement of a broad range of actors.
- Serving as a clearing-house for policy and programme information exchange, and for sharing lessons learnt and experiences.
- Promoting policy coherence at all levels in line with various UN mandates and identifying specific areas where there is a need/opportunity for further policy development.
- Encouraging and facilitating collaborative arrangements in relation to programmes and projects among relevant actors, in order to avoid duplication and ensure optimal utilization of resources.
- Establishing linkages among and with research centers, institutes, networks and other sources of knowledge related to a particular sector.
- Serving as a link between global, regional and national level activities.
Supporting initiatives for capacity building in developing countries in the area of energy.
In UN-HABITAT’s efforts to achieve target 11, Goal 7 of the Millennium Declaration, which seeks to improve the lives of 100 million slum dwellers, renewable energy plays an important role as part of the Slum Upgrading Program. Slums account for unsustainable uses of energy: for example, without the infrastructure for gas lines, charcoal and/or other biomass becomes the primary source of cooking fuel, further propagating deforestation. Further, the lack of public lighting in dense slums contributes to high levels of crime. Here, a strong case can be made for introducing effective solar power use in slums. Numerous other technologies would serve the purpose of further introducing the integration of Renewable Energies into Slum Upgrading programmes, at low costs with high returns.
As past work by UN-HABITAT has demonstrated and the provisions on energy in the chapter in the Habitat Agenda , the benefits of Renewable Energy remain mostly inaccessible to the urban poor. The 1999 workshop “Energy and Environment Linkages in African Cities” clearly demonstrated the urban poor’s dire predicament regarding access to appropriate energy services. There is a need to explore affordable ways of integrating technologies that facilitate Renewable Energy use into slum areas. This will both benefit slum dwellers’ environmental health and their economic livelihoods. Training and maintenance of Renewable Energy projects provide opportunities for learning and income generation. Furthermore, systems of waste recycling provide the opportunity to create energy from waste; to facilitate income generation in the process of waste collection and sorting; and to improve environmental health. There is also a strong need to further engage the private sector in these initiatives.
To effectively address the sustainability considerations in the area of energy and urban environment as outlined in Chapters 7 and 9 of Agenda 21, UN-Habitat is piloting demonstration projects in the areas of Sustainable Energy production and Use for Urban Households; Capturing Energy from Urban Waste; and Mitigating Measures for GHG Emissions Reductions in the Transport Sector. These demonstration projects will highlight the needed steps forward to strike an optimal sustainable balance between the conflicting demand of exploiting natural resources for energy production and consumption in human settlements development while still ensuring environmental quality.