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Iceland and NDF exploring new collaboration opportunities with UNEP

Photo: UNEP
Persons from left to right: Frank Turyatunga, Deputy Regional Director, Africa Office, UNEP; Hafdís Hanna Ægisdóttir, Gró- LRT Land Restoration Programme (former UNU- LRT), Iceland; Meseret Teklemariam Zemedkun, Programme Manager, Energy, Africa Office, UNEP; Martina Jägerhorn, Program Manager, NDF; Björn Helgi Barkarson, Head of Division, Department of Land and Natural Heritage, Ministry for Environment and Natural Resources, Iceland; Ágústa Gísladóttir, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Directorate for International Development Cooperation, Iceland; Inga Dóra Pétursdóttir, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Adviser, Iceland; Moses Mbego, Energy Unit, Africa Office, UNEP

Significant results in a recently completed geothermal project has lifted up possibilities in expanding the collaboration to cover also land restoration and sustainable management of land

The Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs and NDF have collaborated with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in the area of geothermal energy in a program that has recently been completed. Through this partnership, significant results have been achieved that will help promote investments in clean geothermal energy in East Africa. 

As an overall goal, the Geothermal Exploration Project (GEP) aimed at increasing access to renewable energy through geothermal energy development in the East African Rift Valley countries that is highly relevant to these countries’ shared goal of a more climate-resilient and sustainable energy sector. The project increased the knowledge of respective geothermal potential through scientific data and reports as well as in built capacity and expertise in the field of geothermal development. Moreover, it enabled further utilization of the geothermal resources in partner countries as preparations for exploratory drillings were put into practice and potential projects entered funding pipelines. As a result, the total potential power generating capacity at the GEP sites studied could amount to more than 600 MW. 

Building on this history of good collaboration, the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Ministry for Environment and Natural Resources together with NDF and UNEP, engaged in discussions to identify and analyse potential new areas of collaboration. Iceland hosts the Land Restoration Training Programme (GRÓ-LRT), which is under the auspices of UNESCO. GRÓ-LRT works with partner institutions that have been identified as playing a significant role in land restoration and sustainable land management in developing countries. The Programme offers postgraduate training for working professionals from the developing countries in the broad field of restoration of degraded land and sustainable land management, and aims at assisting developing countries in capacity development within this field.

In conclusion, a potential new area of collaboration could be to assist developing countries in land restoration. Land restoration and sustainable management of land has the potential to combine efforts for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The discussions are expected to continue later this year. 

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