Projects in West Bank and Gaza win UN Climate Change Award

The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced on Thursday, October 7, 2021, that the Palestinian Investment Fund‘s solar rooftop program has won the tenth United Nations Global Climate Action Award under the category of “Financing for Climate-Friendly investments.”

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the award program and its efforts to demonstrate how climate action is underway around the world. The award recognizes the most innovative, scalable, and replicable projects that tackle climate change – shining a light on initiatives that help support the goals of the Paris Agreement. The announcement comes ahead of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) to be held in Glasgow.

The UN organization granted the award to the program implemented by the Massader Company’s Fund, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, under the title ” Self-reliance & Solar in the West Bank & Gaza | State of Palestine”, in the category of financing for the purpose of environmentally friendly investment. The organization stated that “the award-winning projects reflect a leadership role in the global climate issue by nations, business, investors and civil society.”

The Palestine Investment Fund clarified in a statement that “the United Nations Global Climate Action Award is a prestigious global award granted by the United Nations Global Climate Organization since 2011. According to the organization, it expresses recognition and appreciation for the best global models in terms of creativity and volume in the subject matter of the global climate. These projects are considered as solutions that not only provide solutions to the global climate, but also contribute to advancing sustainable development goals such as innovation and economic opportunities.” The Fund added that this is the second international award the project has won, as it was selected in 2019 by the UAE-based Middle East Solar Energy Industries Association, as the best project in rooftop photovoltaic systems for the Middle East and North Africa region.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Investment Fund, Muhammad Mustafa, said, “This award is an international recognition of the capabilities of the Palestinian people and their institutions in advancing, facing challenges towards building an independent Palestinian energy sector away from economic dependency.”

Additionally, the Minister of Education Marwan Awartani said: “This project is in line with the ministry’s vision to develop the educational environment, and it is the result of a joint effort between a group of entities, led by the Investment Fund and the Ministry of Education. development, and a motive for developing the educational process by providing clean and renewable energy.”

It aims to generate 35 megawatts of electricity from solar energy on school roofs, equivalent to the consumption of about 16 thousand homes, by installing solar panel arrays on the roofs of 500 public schools, with a total investment size of about 35 million US dollars. The project is one of the components of the “Noor Palestine” program, which has so far succeeded in installing more than 55,000 solar panels in various governorates of the country.

In addition to using the rooftops of public schools, the project includes the construction of plants to generate electricity from solar energy, two of which have been completed, namely the “Noor Jericho” plant in Al-Nweima in the Jericho Governorate and the Jordan Valley, on an area of 86 dunums, and containing more than 20 thousand solar panels with a production capacity of 7.5 megawatts. This is equivalent to the consumption of about 3,600 homes, and the “Noor Jenin” plant in Kafrdan, Jenin Governorate, covers an area of 60 dunums and contains more than 13,500 solar panels with a production capacity of 5 megawatts, which is equivalent to the consumption of about 2,000 homes.

Azem Bishara, Massader CEO, said that this award is a tribute to the distinguished efforts made by the teamwork and all partners, led by the Ministry of Education, the electricity distribution companies, and of course the developers from the Palestinian private sector who were able to keep pace with the global technological progress and implement the components of the “Noor Palestine” program in accordance with the highest international standards. “We are proud of the Fund’s role in leading these efforts, strengthening the private sector, pushing towards promoting a culture of clean energy and providing job opportunities for our creative and creative human energies,” he added.

The investment fund stated that, “the installation of electricity generation systems and solar cells on the rooftops of 151 schools will be completed by the end of this year, while work is underway on the other hand to complete the schools approved for this year, and prepare for new schools, knowing that all installations of solar energy systems on the rooftops of the schools are done by developers from the Palestinian private sector.” He added that he succeeded in attracting international institutions to fund this program, such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), in addition to the support provided by the “Finance for Job Creation F4J” project, which is implemented for the Ministry of Finance by DAI with support and funding from the World Bank.

The objectives of the program intersect with the objectives of these international institutions in contributing to achieving sustainable development and developing sectors that affect citizens’ lives, especially the energy sector. On the other hand, their partnership conveys confidence in the credibility, position and role of the investment fund and confidence in its governance to achieve the desired impact for the development of the national economy.

The Fund pointed out that “in addition to the development and financial goals achieved by the program, such as creating specialized job opportunities, contributing to covering the needs of schools and paying the monthly electricity bill, reducing the annual electricity bill of participating schools at an average of $1.2 million annually, transforming consumers into producers, and saving, it also contributes to improving the educational environment in schools, promoting a culture of renewable energy and developing the educational process.”