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UNECE supports countries’ transition to sustainable energy based on Environmental Performance Reviews

Creating favourable regulatory frameworks and incentives for renewable energy development, diversifying energy supplies, tackling greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector and ensuring the safety of oil and gas pipelines are just some of the energy-related issues addressed in UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews (EPRs). EPRs also promote the energy efficiency of buildings, use of waste for the production of energy and education on energy efficiency and energy saving. The focus on energy within EPRs is on an integrated approach to the rational use and saving of energy resources at all stages of energy production and use, based on energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly technologies.

On 29–30 November 2017, experts from Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) gathered in Astana, Kazakhstan, to share good practices in transitioning to sustainable energy based on recommendations arising from UNECE EPRs. The workshop was conducted to advance sustainable energy policies and build capacity in the region for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 7 on affordable and clean energy for all. The Environment and Sustainable Energy Divisions of UNECE joined forces with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kazakhstan to organize the event.

A common challenge for all countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia, highlighted in their EPRs, is the restructuring of electricity tariffs to eliminate cross-subsidies and achieve pricing levels that reflect the costs of production in the power sector, while taking measures to protect vulnerable social groups. Other common issues include the lack of long-term planning in the energy sector and difficulties in operationalizing regulatory measures and incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy development.

Due to these similarities, countries from the region had much to share and learn from each other. The host country, Kazakhstan, presented progress in the implementation of its 2013 Concept for Transition to Green Economy, its work on energy efficiency standards and equipment and activities under the joint UNDP- Global Environment Facility and the Government of Kazakhstan project “Sustainable cities for low-carbon practices of urban development”. Other countries shared their experience in the development of pathways to sustainable energy systems, transboundary energy cooperation, the specificity of national energy sectors and the implementation of EPR recommendations on energy topics.

The workshop was a continuation of UNECE efforts in Central Asia and the Caucasus to strengthen the integration of environmental aspects in energy sector policies and build human and technical capacity for sustainable energy management. For example, the United Nations Development Account (UNDA)_Project “Promoting renewable energy investment for climate change mitigation and sustainable development” assists developers in preparing feasibility studies and business plans for renewable energy projects. Another UNDA Project, “Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia” – trained participants from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, along with other target countries, on statistical indicators relevant for monitoring of sustainable energy development. In addition, a field project sponsored by the Russian Federation is promoting the application of biogas technology in rural areas of Kyrgyzstan.