The health of women and children is compromised as low-income families around the world depend on polluting fuels for cooking. An initiative by the UAE and Irena aims to change this. Photo: AFP


© MAURO PIMENTEL
The health of women and children is compromised as low-income families around the world depend on polluting fuels for cooking. An initiative by the UAE and Irena aims to change this. Photo: AFP

The UAE and the International Renewable Energy Agency launched an initiative to supply clean energy for cooking to people in developing countries.

The Beyond Food drive aims to reach low-income communities with sustainable energy and technology that will replace dependence on polluting fuels such as wood, charcoal and kerosene.

The partnership, in co-operation with Nama Women Advancement Establishment, tackles an issue that directly affects the health of people, the planet and disproportionately impacts women and children.

The linkages between cooking, gender equality, health, the environment, and a changing climate cannot be denied or overlooked

Reem Bin Karam, director Nama

More than 2.6 billion people still rely on traditional fuel for cooking causing indoor pollution and affecting the health of families.

Irena said the collaboration would provide financial support to deliver clean cooking solutions to communities in need.

“This partnership seeks to advance the financing needed to bolster the deployment of clean cooking solutions,” said Francesco La Camera, Irena director general.

“Ensuring universal access to affordable modern energy for cooking is a major global challenge with current efforts lagging far behind the targets set forth in the global agenda for sustainable development by 2030.”

Nawal Al Hosany, the UAE’s permanent representative to Irena, said it was alarming that nearly one out of every three people lacked the resources and access to clean cooking fuel creating an unhealthy living environment and increased harmful carbon emissions.

“Finding innovative ways to help people benefit from cleaner food systems, agriculture and livelihoods is essential to ensuring long-term sustainable human development,” she said.

High levels of investment typically flow to renewable electricity projects but the clean cooking sector attracts a limited amount of international and local finance.

The new programme aims to change this imbalance.

Reem Bin Karam, director of Nama, said nearly 4 million people a year die from illnesses linked to cooking with polluting fuels and women are most affected, according to the World Health Organisation.

“The linkages between cooking, gender equality, health, the environment, and a changing climate cannot be denied or overlooked,” she said.

“Our participation in this initiative will ensure women are actively involved in the development of gender-sensitive strategies for cleaner and more efficient cooking technologies.”

She stressed the need for urgent action as women and children were directly affected as they gather the fuel and tend to carbon-emitting stoves.

Providing communities with clean cooking technology is a crucial path to achieving the sustainable development goals to accelerate climate action.

The launch took place at Irena’s 7th renewable talks held at Expo 2020 Dubai, during which representatives of one of the world’s top energy group’s discussed practical approaches to clean cooking.