Updates and News

January 2020 

  • GPA Website: We have a new website! Please visit https://www.humanitarianenergy.org/ for the latest on the GPA work.  

  • GPA Partnership Work Plan 2020-2021: The GPA Partnership continues to work on collective activities that advance the humanitarian sectors integration of sustainable energy solutions in policy and practice. Our workplan can be found here. If you are interested in learning more or joining in the action, email Mark Gibson (mark.gibson@unitar.org).  

  • Learning opportunity, Humanitarian Energy Webinars: The GPA Coordination Unit and partners ICRC and Energypedia hosted a series of webinars that featuring different energy topics in humanitarian situations, including application of cleaner cooking solutions for displaced communities, application of renewable energy for community electrification, and green building design. See all six webinars and supporting resources on Energypedia, and stay tuned for more webinars in 2020. Online here: https://energypedia.info/wiki/Webinar_Series:_Sustainable_Energy_in_Humanitarian_Settings 

  • Sustainable Finance, decarbonising energy infrastructure in humanitarian response: A series of workshops with UN Agencies and the private sector was held during 2019 to understand what was holding the UN back from transitioning to renewable energy solutions. Several recommendations were made in the Workshops, of which two were identified as high priority. They relate to the development of: a standard set of contractual terms for PPAs and Lease Agreements; and a de-risking tool that would protect the capital investment of an Energy Service Company should the UN’s Termination Contractual Clause be triggered. The work on the standard set of contractual terms for PPAs and Lease Agreements, which was funded by GIZ and undertaken by Becker Büttner Held, on behalf of the GPA Coordination Unit, has been completed and can be downloaded from here. A third-party consultant is presently engaged in the development of a de-risking tool, as a result of financial support from Shell. 

  • Clean Energy Challenge: In December 2019, during the Global Refugee Forum, and mirroring the Sustainable Development Goal 7 on access to Energy, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees issued an ambitious Clean Energy Challenge with a vision that: “All refugee settlements and nearby host communities will have access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030.” Through the Challenge, an Action Group consisting of member states, hosting governments, UN agencies, implementing partners, the private sector and researchers/technical supporters, was formed to work together and deliver concrete action in the five components of the Challenge. The GPA Coordination Unit are the Secretariat for the Challenge, working to coordinate and facilitate sector wide, systematic action to enable clean energy access for displaced communities and sustainable application of energy infrastructure for community services (health clinics, water services, community facilities, marketplaces). If you would like to join the action, email Thomas Fohgrub (thomas.fohgrub@unitr.org) and Ziad Ayad (ayad@unhcr.org). Visit the Clean Energy Challenge webpage for further information: https://www.unhcr.org/clean-energy-challenge.html. For further information, visit the Clean Energy Challenge webpage: https://www.unhcr.org/clean-energy-challenge.html.  

  • GPA Working Groups: The GPA Coordination Unit facilitates working groups on an as needs basis, to coordinate and facilitate joint activities between individuals and organisations working on sustainable energy for humanitarian response. Active working groups in 2020 are: Working Area IV on Technical Expertise and Capacity Building, and Working Area V on Data, Evidence, Monitoring and Reporting. If you would like to be involved in the action, please email Aimee Jenks (aimee.jenks@unitar.org) and sign up for our quarterly newsletter on our website: https://www.humanitarianenergy.org/

  • 2019 Humanitarian Energy Conference, Final Report: Last year, humanitarian energy practitioners joined the first Humanitarian Energy Conference to share experiences and advance collective sector knowledge. The full conference report is online here.  Discussions on the next sector conference are underway, aiming to convene practitioners at a follow up conference in 2021. 


What is the Global Plan of Action?

The Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement (GPA) is a non-binding framework and entails concrete recommendations for accelerated progress towards the vision of safe access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy services for all displaced people by 2030. The living framework is the result of continued consultation among humanitarian and development organisations, the private sector, governments, academia, and other stakeholders involved in the provision of fuel and energy services to displaced people.


Today, over 130 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance due to conflict, natural disasters, and other complex global challenges.  For many of these people, access to energy sources is critical for survival, and how they access it impacts their health, livelihoods, safety, and well-being. Energy is critical for essential activities such as cooking meals, heating shelters, cooling vaccines, charging mobile phones and powering humanitarian operations. Lack of access to safe and sustainable energy exposes displaced women and girls to heightened risks of sexual and gender-based violence as they travel long distances to collect firewood and navigate poorly lit communal spaces.  

Energy access for displaced people is not prioritized in the global humanitarian system. Current energy practices in situations of displacement are often inefficient, polluting, unsafe for users, and harmful to the surrounding environment. Moreover, institutional humanitarian operations such as water pumping, community lighting, and health clinics rely heavily on unsustainable fossil fuels, costing hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Given the complex nature of humanitarian response and the challenges of integrating sustainable energy solutions into the humanitarian program cycle, there is not just one solution but a need for systemic actions to mobilise resources, build capacity and use the opportunity for energy solutions to enhance impact in sectors such as health, protection, food security, and WASH.


Aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 7, the GPA is guided by the vision: Every person affected by conflict or natural disaster has access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services by 2030.


The Mission of the Global Plan of Action is to equip stakeholders with the capacity to mainstream sustainable energy solutions into programming, with the goal of delivering improved protection, dignity, and energy-related social, environmental, and economic benefits to displaced people. 

Guiding Principles

  • Ensure priority involvement of displaced people, host communities and host governments from planning to implementation
  • Develop context appropriate solutions, no ‘one size fits all approaches, as energy is not an end in itself, but a means to enable human development
  • Promote recovery and self-reliance
  • Integrate gender sensitive approaches
  • Focus on local solutions and financial sustainability
  • Adhere to the ‘do no harm’ principles

Five Working Areas

The GPA is categorized in five thematic working areas that address current challenges and barriers to achieving access to sustainable energy for displaced people.  The working areas are: coordination and planningpolicy and advocacyinnovative financingtechnical expertise and capacity building, and data. Working groups around each of these thematic areas are facilitated by experts of the Global Plan of Action Steering Group.

GPA Support Structure

The GPA is to be delivered by:

  • The Steering Group, which provides strategic leadership, direction to the Working Groups, and oversight of the resulting Work Plan.
  • The Coordination Unit, which provides day-to-day support to the Steering Group, Working Groups, and coordinates the activities of the Work Plan.
  • The Working Groups, who develop and deliver, in their own capacity, the activities of the Work Plan across the five thematic Working Areas.

Get Involved


Stakeholders from all sectors are invited to join the Global Plan of Action through a Working Group, available for membership: https://bit.ly/2CuL8Wc. Advocates from humanitarian, development and energy organizations are invited to support the GPA through the following channels:

To join the movement, you are invited to email energy@unitar.org with your desired level of engagement.

Steering Group and Support

The Global Plan of Action is guided by a steering group consisting of members from the UNITARUNHCRIOMGIZWFPFAO, Mercy Corps, the Moving Energy InitiativePractical ActionUNEP-DTUUNDP, the Clean Cooking Alliance, and Sustainable Energy for All. The GPA Coordination Unit is hosted in the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). The GPA is kindly supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, the IKEA Foundation and NORCAP.

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