blog ambassador series Carola van Rijnsoever


Sustainable access to energy vital to achieving SDGs

In this series of blogs, we feature interviews with important investors of our Government Funds: the Ambassadors of the Netherlands. 

Carola van Rijnsoever

Today, we give the floor to Carola van Rijnsoever, Netherlands Ambassador for Sustainable Development, in reaction to the annual report of the Access to Energy Fund (AEF).

It is with great pleasure that I welcome the 2017 annual report of the Access to Energy Fund (AEF). Supporting the creation of sustainable access to energy for people in sub-Sahara Africa through risk bearing funding plays a vital role in sustainable development and lifting people out of poverty while reducing and avoiding CO2-emissions. I would therefore wish to express my appreciation to FMO for conducting such valuable work that is crucial for achieving the goal of the Dutch government to provide 50 million people in developing countries with access to renewable energy by 2030. Simultaneously, AEF directly contributes to progress on Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7): to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

Despite the progress made thus far, we are however still far from achieving the audacious goal. Today, around 1 billion people still have no access to electricity and close to 3 billion people lack clean cooking facilities. SDG7 is an essential development enabler and plays a central role in achieving the other SDGs, including poverty eradication, gender equality, food security, health, education, clean water and sanitation, jobs, and innovation. Obviously, investment in sustainable energy can considerably increase access to clean water, education and healthcare. It also contributes to creating jobs and supporting local businesses.

Nowadays off-grid, micro-grid and mini-grid solutions allow for inclusive development by providing access to energy to those people who tend to be left out

Nowadays off-grid, micro-grid and mini-grid solutions allow for inclusive development by providing access to energy to those people who tend to be left out and by supporting the creation of industrial and/or agricultural jobs in underserved, often rural, areas. For example, the two investments AEF made in M-KOPA in 2017, in Kenya and Uganda, combine solar energy with mobile technology using a PAYGO model to reach low-income customers. In doing so, M-KOPA provides high-quality solar solutions and makes the transition to clean and green energy possible.

 To successfully complete that transition, global capital needs to be increasingly directed toward investments in renewables. The first close and official start in 2017 of Climate Investor One, to which the Dutch government contributed EUR 50 million through AEF, highlights and re-affirms a broad public and private sector commitment to innovative climate change solutions and key overseas development and investment initiatives. With funds such as AEF and CIO, FMO has shown strong leadership in innovations that support climate finance. Delivering on the Paris agreement and achieving the SDGs, making sure to “leave no one behind”, require such leadership and I look forward to our continued co-operation in that regard.