Solar power and other renewable sources of energy should be targeted by countries trying to promote sustainable agricultural and rural development, the United Nations Second Committee (Economic and Financial) has been told during discussions on environmental issues.NEW YORK, New York, US, 2001-11-20 [SolarAccess.com] Disaster reduction, desertification, biodiversity, the Programme of Action for small developing states and islands, and new and renewable sources of energy were debated as part of the Committee’s overall consideration of environment and sustainable development. Conventional energy alone would not be able to address the energy demands of developing countries, according to the representative of Zimbabwe. In many instances, conventional methods did not meet the needs of rural, remote and isolated areas economically. In some cases, the electricity grid might not reach those areas in a conceivable time frame and, where they did, they may not be economical. Solar energy could provide energy needs and stimulate economic development at the local level and that, in turn, would discourage rural-to-urban migration. The U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization continues to stress the importance of renewable sources of energy in the context of its program to promote food security and rural development, a FAO representative said. Solar, wind, biomass, hydro and geothermal energies could all be used in agriculture and farmers need information on these options. The U.N. committee was told that local and national authorities in the energy and agricultural sectors in developing countries require assistance in devising the necessary policies, as well as the technical and financial mechanisms to establish renewable energy programs. The representative of Antigua & Barbuda, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said the near-total dependence on imported petroleum was reason alone to warrant seeking alternative and more sustainable energy systems. There were, however, significant constraints to the large-scale commercial use of renewable energy resources. Small island developing states do not have the capacity or means to invest in renewable energy sources or to develop or obtain the right technology. The Committee was told that international financial institutions, including the Global Environment Facility, should support the efforts of small states in developing energy resources.