The 1st World Community Power Conference 2016 took place in Fukushima City, Japan, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Paris climate change agreement and coincided with the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident and of the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
The WCPC brought leading community power proponents from Japan and the world together to discuss the role community power has to play in the global shift towards renewable energy. WCPC also discussed a global community power strategy and its national and local implications.
The conference concluded with the “Fukushima Community Power Declaration – for the future of the earth” which was agreed by the more than 600 participants from more than 30 countries, to support community power. The declaration mentions that sustainable energy is essential to future wellbeing of all and that the implementation of this renewable energy future must respect local and regional needs and priorities, as well as existing societal, cultural and environmental conditions, and, in other words, follow the principles of “community power.”
Today, the international community is putting a lot of effort in order to implement Paris Agreement. It is also clearer than ever that there will not be any Sustainable Development Goal achieved without access to energy. At the same no climate mitigation is possible without universal access to renewable energy.
Mali and many of its neighbouring countries face many challenges in supplying its population with energy, including its distance from the coast (1 000km) low population density, and some of the highest levels of poverty in the world. Mali is heavily reliant on imported fossil fuels, but has vast renewable energy resources, and community power has the potential to improve living standards and reduce poverty for millions of people. Access to energy is now understood as a requirement for economic development and at the local level in villages and at the macro-economic level in Africa. Developing so-called bankable projects is the key to apply and to use already available climate finance sources for community power. How to overcome this challenge is one focus of the conference.
Mali has also experienced geo-political challenges from 2012 including a coup and rebellion in the north of the country. Community Power has the potential to improve living conditions and stimulate micro and macro economic growth and also brings local resources for use by local population.
The challenge for the world in general, and Africa and Mali in particular, is to make a transition towards clean, democratically controlled, participatory and distributed renewable energy sources. That means moving away from the centralised energy systems to decentralised renewable solutions. Use of Community Power implementation will bring even more benefits to local communities.