Green energy could help developing countries diversify their economies

12 octobre 2017

Green energy could help developing countries that are too dependent on commodities exports diversify their economies and reduce their vulnerabilities to volatile markets, UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant has said in Geneva at an international meeting on commodities.

Two out of three developing economies are hostage to price changes in agricultural products, fuels and other commodities, and their growth perspectives were put in check in 2011 when a decade-long commodities boom came to a crashing end.

Getting back on track requires diversifying these countries’ economies. And renewable energies could help.

"Renewable energy has a critical role to play in the structural transformation of developing economies, becoming a potential catalyst for innovation," Ms. Durant said.

"They are part of technology leapfrogging, whereby developing countries are freed from the constraints associated with the development of infrastructure that is heavy, onerous and sometimes difficult to put in place, characteristic of technologies based on fossil fuels," she said, adding that the infrastructure necessary for developing renewable energy technologies is "more flexible and more decentralized".

Forecasts show renewable energy accounting for more than 60 per cent of the global increase in electricity output over the next five years. And the falling cost of renewables means they could play a key role in getting electricity to more businesses and homes in developing countries, especially those outside the main cities.

"Green energy thus provides many developing countries the possibility of an economic catch up that is controlled, inclusive and respectful of the environment," Ms. Durant said.

Ms. Durant was speaking at the ninth session of the multi-year expert meeting on commodities and development, convening from 12 to 13 October at the Palais des Nations, the UN's European headquarters.

UNCTAD's mandate for the expert meeting was renewed by the "Nairobi Maafikiano", an accord approved by member States at the UNCTAD 14 summit held in Kenya in July 2016, reaffirming the importance of addressing the issue of commodity dependence.

On 13 October, UNCTAD will release its third edition of The State of Commodity Dependence.