The Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement Framework for Action 2018

Review by Marina Kazakou


The Global Plan of Action was collectively drafted from January to June 2018, by the following entities, which comprise the Global Plan of Action Steering Group:

FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations • GIZ – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH • Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves • IOM – The International Organization for Migration - The UN Migration Agency • MEI – The Moving Energy Initiative • Practical Action • UNDP - The United Nations Development Programme • UNEP-DTU – UN Environment and Danish Technical University • UNF – The United Nations Foundation • UNHCR – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees • UNITAR – The United Nations Institute for Training and Research • WFP – The World Food Programme

Type of Publication: 

The Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement (GPA) is a non-binding framework that will provide concrete actions for accelerated progress towards the vision of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number 7: “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” and specifically for the “safe access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy services for all displaced people by 2030.”.

The Global Plan of Action Framework is also intended to align with the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, the Agenda for Humanity and other international initiatives such as the Paris Climate Agreement.


This document comprises the Framework of the GPA. Section I provides a brief overview of the current state of energy in situations of displacement and identifies the major challenges that must be addressed in order to improve the current situation.  Each challenge is addressed by one of five GPA Working Areas. In Section II, the major challenges are broken into smaller components across the five Working Areas and examined in further detail. Each Working Area outlines a specific vision, assesses existing and potential solutions, and provides numerous recommendations as a basis for defining actions.

Main statements: 

Today, over 134 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance due to conflict, natural disasters, and other complex global challenges. Access to fuel and energy is critical to essential activities such as cooking meals, heating shelters, cooling vaccines, charging mobile phones, and powering humanitarian operations. Current energy practices in situations of displacement are often inefficient, polluting, unsafe, expensive and inadequate for displaced people, harmful to the surrounding environment, and costly for implementers. There is a need for systemic actions to mobilize resources, build capacity, raise awareness, and use the opportunity for energy solutions to enhance positive impact in sectors such as health, protection, food security.

The Framework includes five Working Areas to address these challenges, as follows:

WA I- Planning & Coordination

Key Challenges

  • Energy is not a formal priority in humanitarian assistance
  • Key actors are prevented from participation


  • Formally recognize sustainable energy access as a priority within the UN humanitarian system.
  • Build energy activities into other humanitarian assistance priorities.
  • Foster “bottom-up” collaborations and engagement on energy and environment interventions between displaced people, host community members, local experts and energy product/service providers. 

WA II - Policy, Advocacy and Host Country Resilience

Key Challenges

  • Displaced people are not on the energy access agenda, nationally or internationally
  • Lack of policy frameworks for long-term investments versus temporary aid
  • National legal frameworks for many displaced people are not conducive to energy access interventions


  • Foster policy dialogues to demonstrate how clean energy investment and self-reliance create a virtuous circle of beneficial change.
  • Create clear guidance frameworks on how funds should be channeled and build donor confidence in term of project need.
  • Ease restrictions on the rights of displaced people to move freely and be legally employed to enable them to participate in energy markets as sellers and consumers.


WA III – Innovative Finance

Key Challenges

  • Lack of long-term investments
  • Limited data on what is viewed as a low-return market


  • Humanitarian agencies need to increase funding for energy and provide information on the types of energy interventions that are needed.
  • Conduct further mapping and research on different types of energy projects and parts of the value chain that require financing, determine the instruments best suited to each.


WA IV- Technical Expertise, Capacity Building & Training

Key Challenges

  • Lack of internal capacity and technical expertise
  • Lack of knowledge sharing at the project and institutional levels


  • Build in-house capacity of staff at the field and international levels to plan and implement multi-year interventions and energy strategies and projects.
  • Develop partnerships between humanitarian and non-humanitarian stakeholders to enable capacity development.
  • Develop tailored training packages according to stakeholders’ capacity needs.

WA V – Data, Evidence, Monitoring & Reporting

Key Challenges

  • Lack of overall data on energy issues in humanitarian settings
  • Lack of harmonized standards for gathering and reporting data
  • Lack of data sharing
  • Limited evidence on the effectiveness of current approaches


  • Collaborate to develop primary research and core data on key topics (e.g. how displaced communities perceive and use energy sources).
  • Develop standards and a common set of indicators for energy assessments.
  • Establish and support feedback mechanisms for local populations.

What is new in the publication

The Global Plan of Action Framework presents 66 recommendations on how to improve life for displaced people through sustainable and safe energy.


Open issues and comments

After the launch during the 2018 High Level Political Forum, a Steering Group and a Coordination Unit will be formally established that will conduct a six to eight months consultation process to translate the recommendations presented in the Global Plan of Action Framework into a living Work Plan with concrete objectives, outputs and activities aligned with the five working areas.

The Work Plan will outline priority action to take in the coming 2-3 years, convene key implementers of the action items, specify stakeholder engagement and outline the scope of the action (sub-regional, regional, and global).