U.N. Foundation Funds Millions to Renewables Projects

The UN Foundation has awarded more than $7 million to support renewable energy projects around the world.

NEW YORK, New York, US, 2001-03-29 <SolarAccess.com> The Foundation was established in 1998 to distribute the $1 billion gift to the United Nations from Atlanta billionaire Ted Turner. The gift is over a ten year period in the form of Time-Warner stock and, so far, the Foundation has awarded $386 million, ahead of its goal of $100 million a year. The latest round of approved projects is $72 million to support women, children, peace and environmental protection around the world. The funding includes $2.3 million over four years to the U.N. Environment Program to help develop clean energy sources in rural Africa; $2.1 million over 42 months to UNEP to help develop clean energy sources in rural Brazil; $100,000 over eight months to UNEP to design a facility to give small loans to develop solar energy in southern India, leading to a full proposal for foundation funding later;$1.8 million over three years to the U.N. Department of Economic & Social Affairs (DESA) to expand the use of solar energy for water heating in China; and $1 million over three years to DESA to spur commercialization of renewable energy development in India. “For the 2.8 billion people currently without access to modern energy services, AREED (African Rural Energy Enterprise Development Initiative) offers a workable, enterprise-based model to deliver those services from climate-friendly technologies via the private sector,” says Klaus Toepfer, executive director of UNEP. The goal is to provide 20 million rural Brazilians with access to basic energy services. AREED is administered by UNEP, and provides seed money for entrepreneurs interested in building renewable energy enterprises. This initiative targets entrepreneurs in Ghana, Botswana, Mali, Senegal and Zambia, and UNEP estimates that 30 enterprises are developing solar, wind, biomass, hydro and geothermal technologies in those regions. Of the $72 million in funding, $46 million will come from Turner and the remainder will come in matching grants from a variety of sources, most of which will be routed through the foundation, said the Foundation’s Phyllis Cuttino. Environmental protection was a prime focus of this round of grants, receiving $32 million, while the largest single grant in this round was $20 million for immunization of children in Africa against common diseases. To date, 40 percent of money from the Foundation has gone to support children’s health; 26 percent to issues concerning women and population; 24 percent to environmental protection; 7 percent to projects related to peace, security and human rights; and 3 percent to other projects. Other energy components in this round include $83,370 over six months to DESA to improve energy efficiency of coal-fired boilers in China; $335,000 over seven months to UNEP to study the feasibility of using biomass from sawmill residue to create energy in the Amazon region of Brazil; $78,750 over eight months to UNDP to study the possibility in China for building clean energy capacity and reducing emission of greenhouse gases; $75,000 over eight months to the U.N. Industrial Development Office to plan a revolving fund for micro-hydro energy development in China; and $70,874 over six months to UNIDO to study the possibility in China of accelerating industrial co-generation. “These investments bring together local communities, national governments and international organizations to strengthen the UN’s efforts in addressing many of the world’s pressing problems,” says U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. “Over the past several decades, the UN has been instrumental in responding to critical environmental challenges by raising public awareness of environmental threats and shaping effective global frameworks to meet these threats, ” says Foundation president Timothy Wirth. “In its Environment Program, the Foundation has two major priorities: conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and reducing global climate change and promoting clean, renewable energy. This latest round of funding will support UN efforts to address these two major environmental challenges.”

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