Tremendous renewable energy potential needs to be tapped: UNIDO Chief

ISLAMABAD, Aug 11 (APP): Representative of United Nations
Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Pakistan Esam Alqararah Thursday said Pakistan had great potential in diverse fields especially in the renewable energy sector and it just needed proper mobilization of the available resources.

“Without any exaggeration, Pakistan has a lot of potential to grow in the renewable energy sector, for which proper mobilization of resources is required,” he said while talking to APP in an interview here.

UNIDO, he said, was extending all possible support to Pakistan in exploiting renewable energy resources with innovative ideas, involving the federal as well as provincial governments besides entrepreneurs, whom he described ‘brilliant and vibrant.”

In Pakistan, he said, there were a number of localities where
residents could generate electricity by just putting a small turbine in the water flowing in rivers and their tributaries, and “they will have no need to get connected with any grid station.”

Esam said currently the UN body was running six different projects relating to energy, environment and capacity building of business community in collaboration with counterparts including ministries of Industries, Climate Change, Commerce, Science and Technology and Chambers of Commerce and Industry, During last five years, he said, UNIDO had spent around $ 20 million in different projects executed for capacity building of entrepreneurs, promotion of renewable energy, stopping industrial pollution and protecting environment in Pakistan.

Answering a question, he said “The budget is not so important, sometimes a project having high budget leaves small impact and sometimes a low-budget project creates a huge impact in the society.”

Citing example of the Clean Technology (Cleantech) project, being executed in eight countries including Pakistan simultaneously, the UNIDO Representative told APP that it was proving highly beneficial to help entrepreneurs, innovators and startup companies to grow and take their ideas further.

He elaborated that UNIDO was managing a global programme called Global Cleantech Innovation Programme (GCIP), which was a global competition aimed at promoting innovations in the area of clean technologies.

Objective of this competition is to foster innovations in renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste to energy and green building. The target market of the Cleantech competition is Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Every year, five selected applicants are selected by a panel of judges after evaluating their novel ideas and given $ 25,000 each besides further mentorship and training in Silicon Valley, USA for the global contest.

“We have the policy to create a conducive environment and provide model role that promotes innovation in this country, and you (Pakistan) will have to minimize trade barriers for its entrepreneurs,” he added.

He said impact of this programme was so high that now more than 50 countries were asking UNIDO to implement it for their entrepreneurs, as the Cleantech encouraged entrepreneurs and the startup innovators for executing their unique ideas.

Replying to a question, Esam said the semi-finalists, who could not make their place for the global competition, were not abandoned by the organization as they were engaged in potential industries so that they could deliver.

“In future, we are planning to provide incubation centers for this type of entrepreneur and launch venture capital fund,” he said adding that in fact Pakistani businessmen do not need funds, but ideas.”I think the money is not the problem of Pakistani entrepreneurs as I have been dealing with the industrialists who are billionaire, they just need viable ideas to increase their capacity and knowledge of doing business.”

Commenting on the environmental issues, the UNIDO Representative said the organization had the plan to set up industrial waste treatment unit in Karachi on the pattern it introduced in Kasur and Sialkot aimed at minimizing environmental hazards.

He said the organizations’ all projects, being executed in Pakistan, were innovative, cost effective and environment friendly.

About the agri sector of Pakistan, he underlined the need for
strengthening food packaging industry and effective grading of edibles to compete in international markets.

“Pakistan is a milk producing country, and it needs an improved packaging system for dairy products. In this field, we are now planning to launch joint venture,” he maintained.

In reply to another question, Esam said Pakistan was the first country that adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) introduced by UN, of which chapter nine titled ‘Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation’ was related to UNIDO.

“This government took the initiative from the beginning to adopt the SDGs, making Pakistan the first country to adopt the agenda,” he remarked.