IRENA urges clean energy for agriculture to achieve SDGs

Energy use is responsible for about one-third of greenhouse gases emitted by food systems. However, large disparities remain in the access to and use of sustainable, clean energy for agricultural activities across the world.

In the lead up to the UN Food Systems Summit and the High-Level Dialogue on Energy, accelerated action is needed to achieve sustainability and climate resilience for both food and energy systems.

Consequently, leading renewable energy players under the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Coalition for Action, in a joint statement, Tuesday, urged renewable energy and agriculture sectors to break down silos and collaborate.

The IRENA Coalition for Action brings together leading renewable energy players from around the world with the common goal of advancing the uptake of renewable energy.

The Coalition facilitates global dialogues between public and private sectors to develop actions to increase the share of renewables in the global energy mix and accelerate the global energy transition.

By jointly advancing the integration of renewables in the agriculture sector, stakeholders can make an essential contribution towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and global climate objectives.

In particular, a joint approach to SDG 7 and SDG 2 can deliver significant socio-economic and environmental dividends.

By jointly advancing the integration of renewables in the agriculture sector, stakeholders can make an essential contribution towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and global climate objectives.

Noting that successfully delivering on the energy transition and food systems transformation will require strong collaborative efforts across sectors, the Coalition for Action puts forward five recommendations for the joint consideration of governments, the renewable energy sector, and the agriculture sector.

The recommendations are:

Cross-sectoral strategies to co-ordinate the planning and implementation of energy transition and food systems transformation;

Multifaceted financing tools to improve access to capital for farmers, enterprises and end-users from local and international financial institutions.

In this regard, governments are urged to facilitate the financial inclusion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs; e.g. farmers, co-operatives) by implementing regulatory and financial policies that encourage investments in agricultural renewable energy solutions. Improve access to financing for agri- and energy SMEs through dedicated funding facilities and readiness assessments for such projects and include access to agriculture-specific technologies within renewable energy finance schemes.

Multilateral development banks should provide credit guarantees, concessional debt financing and firstloss capital to de-risk novel and unfamiliar combined renewable energy and agriculture projects. Also, pioneer investments in these projects and create a knowledge base to unlock local financing opportunities.

Local financing institutions on their part should support SMEs and agri-enterprises looking to integrate renewables by tailoring financing products to local conditions and seasonal cash flows. In partnership with industry associations and incubation centres, improve outreach on building pipelines for new agricultural renewable energy projects.

Develop innovative, cross-sectoral business models that enable energy access and improved agricultural yields while protecting biodiversity, ecosystems and communities.

Encourage capacity-building initiatives to provide local actors with relevant skills, knowledge and resources to integrate renewable energy solutions in agriculture projects (e.g. operation, maintenance, business management, enterprise development).

Provide improved data on renewables applications in agriculture to de-risk projects, improve acceptability and effectively guide sustainable investments.

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