EU4Energy: Promoting capacity and expertise in the Eastern Neighbourhood and Central Asia

29-01-2018

Quality data and statistics are key to developing effective energy policies, as are knowledge sharing and dialogue. With funding from the European Union the International Energy Agency (IEA), a Paris-based intergovernmental organisation, is equipping governments in the Eastern Partner countries and Central Asia with the capacity and tools to improve evidence-based policy-making in the energy sector.

The IEA is working as part of the EU4Energy Initiative, which covers all European Union support to improve energy supply, security and connectivity, energy efficiency and the use of renewables in the six Eastern Partner countries. In particular, the IEA is providing support to statistics agencies to improve energy data and data management, engaging partner countries in regional policy discussions, and providing an online one-stop-shop for a range of energy data and policy developments.

Strengthening monitoring and compliance

The core of the cooperation is about facilitating evidence-based policy-making and Thea Khitarishvili, senior manager leading the project at the IEA, emphasises that their role in this EU-funded Programme is fundamentally about capacity building. “We are assisting governments in elaborating and putting in place medium to long term energy policies and measures tailored to their respective national and regional peculiarities or characteristics,” she says. “We are not there to provide the fish, but rather provide the nets and go fishing together.”

Strengthening monitoring and compliance helps the Eastern Partner countries as well five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) to move towards more sustainable energy frameworks. This contributes towards sustainable economic development, jobs and investment; greater resilience in the face of climate change; and a reduced carbon footprint.  The IEA is well placed to deliver on these components of the EU’s programme. Data, collected from primary sources, goes back years, enabling unrivalled tracking and modelling capabilities.

Coordinated cooperation on energy data

The IEA is providing support to governments and agencies in the region to improve energy statistics and data management and to expand their use in evidence-based policy-making. The aim is to bring the region into line with international standards and make energy data more accessible to citizens.

In the policy arena, the IEA is encouraging knowledge sharing and dialogue on common energy-related issues to help countries design more effective energy policies. These discussions focus on energy security, sustainable energy and energy markets, and aim to address modern day energy challenges and opportunities. Finally, a web portal provides a one-stop-shop for energy information and acts as a repository for a range of energy data, statistics, and information on energy infrastructure, policy developments and investment projects.

Promoting energy security, sustainability and markets

“Take the issue of energy research development and deployment,” says Khitarishvili. “This has been ignored for more than two generations in the region, which means there is a large knowledge and training gap.” The IEA provides assistance by collecting and analysing data on technologies that have been worked on, funding available and who exactly is doing what.

“In each country we zoom into a general subject very deeply, gathering all possible information and analysing the opportunities and challenges,” says Khitarishvili. “We share experiences at the regional level through meetings and open working sessions with country experts and stakeholders.” The web portal then enables stakeholders to compare, for example, renewable technologies in the region, both in terms of data and policy. This illustrates how the various elements of the project are fundamentally interlinked and ultimately contribute towards evidence-based policy-making.

Delivering capacity building results

Several capacity-building measures have already been delivered, including fully up-to-date country briefings covering a range of energy issues. These are available to anyone interested. Best practice examples, which have been assessed and adapted to each country across all sectors of economy, have also been published.

“These are easily readable one-pagers on, for example, energy efficiency goals and actions in each country,” explains Khitarishvili. “We assess our progress not in the volume of reports we produce, but in the delivery of short and concise findings that are crucial for the development of each country.”

Expected sustainable results include the improved capacities of statisticians and regional agencies to effectively collect and disseminate energy data. The EU4Energy web portal will also provide better access to information and encourage regional information sharing. “We are supporting the development of policies that move countries in the right direction,” says Khitarishvili. “This is achieved by working in partnership. Once this Programme is completed, I expect these relationships to continue, with countries reaching out to us not as recipients but as peers.”