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IRENA and United Nations agree to jointly combat desertification through renewables

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) are joining forces to support climate adaptation and resilience and to implement UN Sustainable Development Goals through renewables.

In a memorandum of understanding signed Sept. 10 by IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera and UNCCD’s Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw, the two organizations have agreed to  increase renewable energy capacity building and investment on the ground, get a better understanding of the land and renewable energy nexus and undertake joint outreach activities.

“Today, renewable energy is the most effective climate action tool available. But renewables can play an important role in combating desertification and land degradation too,” said La Camera. “By signing today’s MoU, we intend to strengthen collaboration with the UN on country and regional support activities that accelerate renewables deployment as a component of a broader strategy to expand access to energy, foster sustainable development, biodiversity and climate resilience.”

“Renewable energy is one of the solutions to restore land, as it can help conserve food or develop irrigation systems. There are a lot of areas for cooperation,” Thiaw said.

Sustainable energy can stimulate land restoration and conservation efforts and improve the economic sustainability of projects undertaken, IRENA says. For example, renewables can electrify rural health centers, provide solutions in the agri-food sector and alleviate poverty through integrated rural community development projects. In regions like Africa and particularly the Sahel, additional bioenergy production through land restoration activities can generate further benefits by lightening the burden of energy in security while generating employment and income, thereby reducing poverty.

Although the press release does not specifically mention hydropower, IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.