GBEP is a forum where voluntary cooperation works towards consensus amongst governments,intergovernmental organizations and other partners in the areas of the bioenergy for sustainabledevelopment, climate change mitigation, and food and energy security.
GBEP has been holding the Bioenergy Weeks since 2013 and the study tour has visited Brazil, Indonesia and Ghana, to name a few. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held online for the first time and focused on Africa, for the third time, as part of the GBEP efforts to facilitate the development and modernization of the bioenergy sector across the continent.
The conference aimed to: (i) review and develop regional Bioenergy policy frameworks, guidelines and action plans for the regional economic communities (RECs) in Africa; (ii) highlight challenges, lessons learned and opportunities in the bioenergy sector from all over the world to stimulate modern bioenergy implementation and replication in Africa; (iii) engage stakeholders on bioenergy best practices to maximize sustainability and contribute to meeting the SDGs and countries’ NDCs; (iv) and facilitate the discourse with the private sector to facilitate a viable bioenergy market in Africa, as well as investments in new bioenergy technologies for local applications.
The conference also included many sessions on specialized topics, such as bio-economy opportunities, liquid biofuels in urban areas, and bioenergy’s contribution to landscape conservation and restoration. Bioenergy reporting and statistics were also given special attention;accurate and reliable data assist decision makers and development planners to measure bioenergyimpacts and develop feasible sustainable energy programmes. Hence, improving data collection,statistics and analysis is key to monitoring bioenergy sectoral trends overtime, evaluatingsustainability and developing sound policies.
In his opening statement, Dr. David Phiri, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Eastern Africa andRepresentative to AU and ECA expressed that FAO consider the key enabling role of energy inachieving food security and better nutrition, thus contributing to the attainment of the SustainableDevelopment Goal 2 on Zero Hunger. He further stressed that Bioenergy presents very goodopportunities for sustainable development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and foodand energy security. The access to adequate and affordable energy is one of the basicrequirements for guaranteeing the wellbeing and development of rural populations.
‘Recognizing that we face a climate urgency, national governments must increase their climateambition by setting long term, ambitious and stable targets for bioenergy and renewable energy deployment, which is estimated to create an additional 2million green jobs in Africa.
Utilising locally available renewable energy resources that Africa is richly endowed witch can alleviate immediate energy challenges, while creating jobs, advancing industrial development andpromoting human welfare should be our main goal’ said H.E. Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy.
The conference offered a platform to draw positive experiences on sustainable production anduse of bioenergy integrated within food production value chains, to support the design andimplementation of bioenergy policies in Africa.
Practical insights and recommendations for mainstreaming and integrating bioenergy development in the countries’ policy agendas were shared, to ensure environmental sustainability, investment in agriculture and rural development, reduction in health risk through improved clean cooking and energy access.
The African Union (AU), UNECA, and FAO have committed to collaborate in the developmentof practical and impactful regional and national policies as part the energy sector transformationagenda. This will involve assisting Member states in mobilising resources to develop bankablebioenergy projects with the aim to create a favourable environment for bioenergy investmentthrough policy and regulation reform.