In Asia around 80% of energy used is from solid fuel (in particular fuelwood, charcoal and dung) and this provides many households with their main source of energy to meet their daily needs, such as cooking and lighting. Using these fuels not only has serious impacts on health, but also harms the already fragile environment – since often it contributes to deforestation. In addition none of the Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing poverty can be met without increasing the quality and quantity of energy services for developing countries.

Although rural populations often desire modern energy services, a sustainable market for cleaner technologies such as biogas, improved cooking stoves or water filters is yet to appear in the developing world. These technologies often remain expensive for the poorest. How can we make pro-poor clean energy solutions affordable? This is the question the Rural Energy & Climate Initiative tried to answer during a three-day workshop bringing together project developers and financiers in Siem Reap on 11-13 July 2011.

The Rural Energy & Climate Initiative is a movement inspired by field development practitioners concerned by the lack of appropriate financial resources available for the mass dissemination of clean and affordable rural energy solutions in developing countries. Led by non-profit Nexus-Carbon for Development, and supported by the blue moon fund and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Initiative builds on the work achieved by Nexus member organisations and partner organisations in the field of energy, poverty and climate change.

“We need to mobilize new and additional financial streams to increase access to affordable clean energy for rural populations in developing countries. We call for clean rural energy solutions to be at the core of development and environment strategies in developing countries. These strategies should be supported by the international community and at the UNFCC” says Marion Verles, Executive Director at Nexus-Carbon for Development.

Dr. Zhang, from blue moon fund, said “The key to the Rural Energy and Climate Initiative is developing sustainable rural energy into a mature market ready for global carbon finance and significant investments. blue moon fund is committed to benefiting the poorest communities and catalyzing serious action on climate change. We congratulate the Initiative’s participants and wish them success in scaling up their rural energy projects”.

Project developers were given the opportunity to showcase their projects and to gather feedback from peers and funders. They left the meeting with an increased knowledge on best practices for rural energy projects, and with a greater understanding of how to package projects in order to attract donors. Thanks to financial support from the blue moon fund, three projects were selected and awarded seed funding to kick off their innovative initiative.

Participants also included representatives from Cambodia Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, UN Foundation, ADB, and international NGOs such as WWF. The meeting was a great opportunity for donors and financiers to meet project developers working on rural energy issues in the field, and a marketplace session was organized with the aim of matching funding sources to projects.

Now that the workshop is over, the initiative will go on and participants will continue working together in joint lobbying efforts to shape climate policies, with the view to propose constructive solutions during the COP17 that will take place in Durban, South Africa. The ADB and Nexus are already embarking on a new partnership to incubate rural energy projects under the Energy for All partnership.

<i>By Sarah Carter and Marion Santini

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