In some of the ESCWA Member Countries, a large percentage of the population lives in rural communities (according to the World Urbanization Prospects: The 2007 Revision, http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wup2007/2007wup.htm
, these rural communities accounted for 68% in Yemen, 57% in Egypt and 55% in Sudan…). On the other hand, and according to the Arab Union of Electricity, Statistical Bulletin,-2010, 75% of the population in Sudan and 48% in Yemen are not supplied with electricity, mainly in the rural areas due to isolations of the remote communities and high costs of long transmission lines needed to reach such communities. Energy needs for the isolated communities relies mainly on firewood and charcoal. Uncontrolled use of such biomass causes deforestation, and land degradation with a direct impact on food security and therefore exacerbating the cycle of extreme poverty. Moreover, deforestation has its negative impacts on the climate change.
Moreover, energy supply and services in Palestine are frequently hindered by the Israeli embargo and prevailing unstable security situation, rendering energy security and access to energy services from available local renewable resources one of the main issues to be looked after.
In general, the lack of energy services aggravate the cycle of extreme poverty in the majority of the rural areas in developing countries, resulting in poor social and economic conditions, which have an adverse impact on basic issues such as food security, water supply, health care, social services, education, communication and overall development. The final effects would be low income with persistent poor
On the other hand, many renewable energy solutions are in a very advanced state and have matured technologically in such a way that enables their wide spread use in many applications in rural areas. This can make relying on these energy sources a very attractive solution to insure energy services amongst a large
portion of the ESCWA member countries populations, that have no regular/easy access to conventional types of energy.
However, the lack of awareness, knowledge and capacity, in the field of renewable energy, would impede the public policy makers and stakeholders from setting the enabling conditions, resulting in a lack of interest from the private sector and fewer investments directed to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Part of the main goals of the present workshop, organized by ESCWA, in collaboration with UNESCO's regional office in Cairo, and RCREEE, is to provide a practical and sustainable capacitybuilding program aimed at policy makers to help in activating and disseminating RE technologies applications. It also aims at attracting potential investors to initiate a nucleus for small business start-ups for
the promotion of renewable energy technology applications that could spur development in rural areas, and expedite the deployment and implementation of these applications for sustainable development, energy services improvement, poverty alleviation, and climate change mitigation.
Finally, it should be noted that this workshop is part of a series of activities specified in the DAproject: "Capacity-building on climate change mitigation for poverty alleviation in Western Asia", lead by ESCWA with the cooperation of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UNESCO’s regional office in Cairo.