The 10th Session of the IRENA General Assembly has ended in Abu Dhabi, following high-level discussions on achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #7 and increasing the use of renewables in the global energy mix, a critical element for meeting the climate change goals.
Among the many high-level dignitaries, Member delegations, participants from public and private entities and civil society organizations, who attended the meetings at IRENA headquarters – included a parliamentary delegation from Sierra Leone comprised of: Dr Kandeh Yumkella MP, Rebecca Kamara MP, Rosalyn Smith MP, and Ibrahim Tawa Conteh MP.
For over a decade, Dr Yumkella MP, has been a strong and consistent partner who has worked with IRENA including during his stint as UNIDO Director-General and UN Under-Secretary-General and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All and currently as MP.
Widely credited for mobilizing global consensus for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG #7 & #9) and for bringing a renewed and vital focus to global energy issues, Dr Yumkella’s expertise is always sought around the globe in shaping and guiding the spirited global energy discussions.
Ahead of the IRENA extraordinary session, Yumkella took part in the Energy Futures: Green grids, Electric cooking and the Global Energy Transition events on 8-9 January 2020, organized by the Climate Parliament and Wilton Park in association with UK Aid and Modern Energy Cooking Services.
“The low carbon energy transition in Africa must include accelerating access to electricity and clean cooking solutions in order to simultaneously save lives, protect the environment and create wealth,” he said when questioned about Africa’s future given that the event was held under the Chatham House rules.
The invitation only meeting focused on the potential for clean cooking with electricity from solar minigrids on the local level on the one hand, and the cross-border transmission corridors for trading renewable energy within different regions of Africa and Asia.
In November 2019, under his leadership, Yumkella coordinated the first ever High-Level Multi-Stakeholder Renewable Energy and Clean Cooking Conference for the Mano River Union in Freetown.
During the IRENA Assembly, Yumkella and colleagues took part in the Legislators Forum: Engaging Communities in the Energy Transformation: Adoption of National Policies.
Dr Yumkella who moderated the session with legislators from around the world, noted that the last decade was good for renewables, but it was not good enough. “We legislators have the power to create laws and legislation to accelerate renewable energy deployment and change the course of climate change,” he said.
Rebecca Kamara MP, said: “I have learned a lot about sustainable development and climate change mitigation and adaptation. I hope to share the knowledge with other colleagues in the energy committee.”
The Legislative forum also provided an opportunity to take an in-depth look at successes so far achieved as well as challenges countries still face towards a sustainable energy future.
Parliamentarians further discussed and identified action they can lead to accelerate the energy transformation by engaging their respective communities to promote a fair and just transition.
Asked about his thoughts on the exchange with other MPs, Ibrahim Tawa Conteh MP, noted that “I commit that given what I have learnt from the dialogue with MPs from other countries, I will re-double my efforts to protect our forests in my country and ensure sustainable livelihoods for rural communities.”
Rosalyn Smith MP, said: “Bipartisan collaboration is critically important to achieve transformative change and the sustainable development goals in tandem with the nationally determined commitments (NDC).”
As moderator of the Global Youth Forum to discuss the central role of youth and renewables, with the participation from the European Commission of the new Director-General for Energy Ditte Juul Jørgensen, Dr Yumkella underscored the importance of international cooperation.
“The energy transformation depends on minerals that are not found everywhere in the world. Therefore, the road ahead will not be easy and new challenges in the energy transformation would arise, he said.”
Noting that the youths have a major role to play, Yumkella expressed delight that the forum is represented by many nationalities, working together and finding solutions that not only disrupt but force countries to implement infrastructure that leapfrogs technologies.