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Photo of a woman smiling at the camera was prepping for cooking food

Credit: Hannah Blair from CLASP/Efficiency for Access

Modern Energy Cooking Services research praised at Ministerial Thematic Forums Side Event

A United Nations ministerial-level thematic forum side event was held last week which repeatedly referred to the impacts of important research led by Loughborough University.

Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) is a five-year programme led by Professor Ed Brown and funded by UK Aid (FCDO), which aims to spark a revolution through rapidly accelerating the transition from biomass to clean cooking on a global scale.

Leveraging modern energy access for all: infrastructure, climate and cooking took place on 23 June as part of the preparation for the UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy event in September this year, linked to Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

It was hosted online by the Government of Kenya, in collaboration with the Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) programme, the Africa Europe Foundation, Clean Cooking Alliance, ENERGIA, International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy, and The Energy Nexus Network.

The aim of the event was to bring together experts from a variety of sectors in order to provide insights on:  leveraging gains made on electrification to enhance clean cooking; accelerating international action on clean cooking to help meet ambitions for a net-zero carbon future by 2050, and capitalising on new forms of climate financing to make clean cooking solutions affordable and accessible to all.

Shukri Abdulkadir, Strategic Communications Lead of MECS launched the event to more than 70 attendees, which also included guests from the banking and utilities industries.

The session also welcomed two high-level representatives from Kenya and the UK to provide opening remarks: Paul Mbuthi, Deputy Director of Renewable Energy at the Ministry of Energy of Kenya, and Professor Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Advisor for the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). 

Professor Watts commented at the event: The commitment to advancing clean cooking solutions has not changed. But the drive for tech and innovation to support this change has just gotten stronger and stronger over the years. And we hope that the work undertaken through the Modern Energy Cooking Services programme as well as the work [by] others really points the way towards realistic, affordable and genuinely clean cooking solutions in advance of 2030.”

The panel discussion which followed – moderated by Donee Alexander, Senior Director of Evidence and Impact from the Clean Cooking Alliance – featured the following speakers:

  • Nick Hurd, Former UK Member of Parliament and Senior Advisor, Bboxx
  • Madhusudhan Adhikari, Executive Director, Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, Government of Nepal
  • Maxine Jordan, Energy Policy Analyst, International Energy Agency (IEA)
  • Monojeet Pal, Division Manager, Energy Efficiency and Clean Cooking Division, African Development Bank
  • Michelle Hallack, Senior Economist, Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
  • Daniel Busche, GIZ Director, Energizing Development (EnDev)
  • Tom Morton, Director, ClimateCare
  • Wairimu Kimani Njehia, Manager Pika na Power programme, Kenya Power

Daniel Busche acknowledged the key role MECS has played in advocating for electric cooking: “Not long ago, the landscape looked very different and electric cooking was not really regarded as serious or marketable in the context of our work… [T]o be frank, I think that has changed and MECS played a crucial role in advocating for this, and I would really like to compliment the colleagues who've done their role in paving the way for electric cooking in this discussion.”

The event concluded with a powerful rallying call to action “40,60 by 2030”, which calls for 40% for all households connected to grid or off-grid electricity to be using it for cooking, and 60% of those using modern energy for cooking to be generated from low-carbon sources by 2030.

MECS is led by researchers from the new STEER (Sustainable Transitions: Energy, Environment, Resilience) Centre within the School of Social Sciences and Humanities. Researchers from STEER also lead the Climate Compatible Growth (CCG) programme, a £38m UK ODA-funded research programme helping developing countries take a path towards low carbon development whilst simultaneously unlocking profitable investment in green infrastructure, opening up new markets and supporting delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The MECS and CCG programmes are contributing significantly towards the transition to clean energy and low carbon development through action-research, which is informing and influencing high-level policy environment such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals processes. This supports countries to take actions on the ground. Both programmes were actively engaged in a number of key activities during last week’s United Nations High Level Dialogue's Ministerial Thematic Forums.

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