Refugee Voices: Green Energy for Jobs

On Monday, December 13th, the GPA co-hosted an online event along with the Global Refugee-led Network (GRN), and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to hear from refugees and displaced people directly on their experiences of energy and green jobs. The panel discussion, Refugee Voices: Green Energy for Jobs, facilitated by the Global Refugee-led Network’s (GRN) Anila Noor, was an important step in changing the humanitarian energy system’s approach to addressing SDG7 for displacement settings by directly collaborating with refugees and displaced people on energy access delivery, advisory and decision-making.

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The panelists, Iman Ghaleb Hadi Al-Hamali, Joëlle Hangi, Malia Peter, and Mukunde Sikitu openly shared their views and experiences of energy and its role in their communities. The panel discussion has brought much needed attention to the role that sustainable energy has in conflict-affected areas and humanitarian settings according to those most effected, as well as the challenges that refugees, internally displaced people, migrants, and host communities face in terms of energy access, as experienced and described by them.

The panel emphasized the intersectional nature of energy-access, highlighting the necessity of co-founding and creating energy solutions with the respective communities of concern.

Joëlle Hangi, our refugee colleague living in Kenya emphasized the role of energy in small and local businesses in refugee camps, stating, “this is our reality” and that “we must be creative and work with refugees”. During the event, we discussed the gender dimension and how to open the energy space for women. As one of our panelists Iman Hadi from Yemen said, it is important to “crack the monopoly of men” to include women.

Malia Peter, a refugee managing an energy kiosk in Uganda, described how refugees can take the lead in owning solutions and that we must draw on the skills and passions that refugees already have. He said, “now we have the power to connect”. Mukunde Sikitu shared with us her experience of living in Kakuma camp and the need to have the internet to access online learning. She said openly, when there is “no electricity, there is no life”. Finally, Iman and Joëlle emphasized shifting the focus towards refugee-led action. Stating that “refugees are not only beneficiaries and vulnerable, they must also have jobs on energy, and be allowed to speak to donors and policy-makers”.

The main lessons from the event are clear: refugees and displaced people must be included in a meaningful way in discussions on energy, and our systems must change to learn from them directly. To help further discussions on meaningful inclusion, the GRN has issued supporting guidelines online here.

At the GPA, we are pushing ourselves to adopt the mind-set and approach of “Nothing About Displaced People Without Them”, to learn from the Global Refugee-led Network moto of “Nothing About Us, Without Us”. On Tuesday, December 14th, we took the lessons and experiences shared during the event to the UNHCR High-Level Officials Meeting (HLOM) during the Climate Action Spotlight Session, to highlight the importance of facilitating meaningful participation by refugees and displaced people in global energy access discussions. 

At the GPA, we are committing to changing our approach, and to walking-the-talk on inclusivity. We are dedicated to creating and facilitating more space to listen to refugees, displaced people, migrants, and host communities directly, on the global level. Amplifying their voices and opinions, not only speaking on behalf of them. We are striving to support displaced people in action led by displaced communities directly.

If you are interested in connecting with us for future discussions or work pertaining to refugee, IDP and migrant-led initiatives on energy access and activities, please join the Humanitarian Energy Practitioners Network on LinkedIn or sign up for the GPA newsletter. For those of you with concrete ideas and potential projects pertaining to this work, please contact Arielle Ben-Hur, the GPA Coordination Unit lead on community-led initiatives and inclusivity.

Last updated: 17/12/2021

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