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Sustainable energy, displacement and climate resilience (September 2020)

News and Press Release
Originally published


Today, 90 per cent of the forcibly displaced living in rural settlements have very limited access to energy in their homes, while camp facilities which are run on diesel generators incur a high CO2 emissions bill.

Energy is a factor in achieving 125 of all 169 targets, i.e. 74 per cent of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and therefore central to achieving the SDGs.

Only 10 per cent of refugees have access to Tier 1-2 electricity, i.e. 4h per day. Light at home increases opportunities for studying, business development and connectivity.


People who flee conflict often find refuge in densely populated and ecologically fragile environments that already experience the adverse effects of climate change.

Most environmental impacts that occur in refugee hosting areas happen at the onset of an emergency and as a result of unmet energy demands.

Burning solid fuels for cooking and heating in homes contributes to global climate change, accounting for approximately 25 per cent of total black carbon emissions worldwide.

Displaced people are rarely included in national or international energy access agendas and energy is not always prioritized in humanitarian assistance. The energy sector remains chronically under-funded which continues to place a serious financial and ecological toll on refugees and host communities.


The Clean Energy Challenge is a multi-stakeholder effort to address collective energy challenges and help deliver a high-energy, low-carbon future for displaced populations by 2030.

Led by UNHCR and the Global Plan of Action (GPA), it aligns the humanitarian community with Climate Action and the UN’s efforts in Greening the Blue.

The Challenge moves away from grant-based funding to sustainable market-based energy models, engaging the private sector to develop local market capacities. It creates a space for sharing data and best practices between the humanitarian, development and private sectors.

Central to the Challenge is the commitment to support host governments’ own energy agendas, build on national capacities and ease the pressure on local communities