Highlights how the UN can meet new clean energy goals announced by Secretary-General last week
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), MONUSCO, could benefit from greater use of available renewable energy according to a new study released by the Stimson Center and Energy Peace Partners. Such a change in the DRC could help meet the UN’s newly-announced goal of getting 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, offer lessons for other UN missions, and save money.
The case study is the first report from Powering Peace, a joint initiative of the Stimson Center and Energy Peace Partners, which is investigating the potential for UN operations to adopt more renewable energy options, improve efficiencies, save money, and assist the communities and countries they serve.
Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced at the Climate Summit that the UN would reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent and get 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Untapped Potential in the DRC highlights the opportunities and challenges of that transformation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, host to one of the largest UN peacekeeping missions since 1999. The report outlines how attempts to use available renewable sources can be stymied and how the missions could open the door to more effective and cost-saving options.
“While the UN in DRC still relies on diesel generators for roughly two-thirds of its total energy, it has made progress connecting to hydroelectric power in some places. Better energy options exist for the mission,” said lead author Gregory Mthembu-Salter. “By shifting to a larger share of hydropower where it is available, and to solar power in off-grid sites, the mission can save money, support local renewable energy development and energy access, and further its peacebuilding goals.”
Contributing author David Mozersky of Energy Peace Partners said, “The mission can save millions of dollars per year by switching to renewable energy where available, at the same time supporting local energy capacity in the country. This advances the UN’s environmental goals, and would have positive economic and development impacts which can support local peacebuilding efforts.”
“Modernizing the UN’s approach to energy in the field is smart and overdue. This report helps show how peace operations can tap new technology, work with partners, and meet mission goals. Changing the way the UN does business will also help local communities and address climate change,” said Victoria Holt, Managing Director at the Stimson Center and co-founder of the Powering Peace Initiative.
The report examines the energy practices of MONUSCO, the benefits of available renewable energy transition options, and how UN decision-making around electricity can be improved to advance mission goals and the aims of the UN environmental strategy. MONUSCO’s partial embrace of local hydroelectric power is encouraging and unique to the DRC, but the report uncovers deeper challenges around the historic reliance of UN field operations on diesel for power generation.
One of the poorest and least electrified countries in the world, the DRC faces myriad challenges related to a history of conflict, weak governance and corruption, limited infrastructure and underdevelopment. Although hydropower grids exist in different corners of the country, vast areas have no electrification: the hydro sector is underdeveloped and directed towards mining and industry, and DRC’s vast solar and wind power potential are virtually untapped.
About Powering Peace
Powering Peace is a joint initiative of Energy Peace Partners and the Stimson Center, working to facilitate a shift toward renewable energy throughout the UN system as a way to leverage resources for field missions to increase use of clean energy, improve security and efficiency, unlock long-term cost savings and introduce new energy infrastructure to areas most in need.