Photo: Colourbox

UN and DTU collaborate on sustainable future

Tuesday 07 Aug 18
Through UNEP DTU Partnership, the United Nations is working with DTU for cleaner energy and climate-adapted sustainable development in developing countries.

By Lasse Hemmingsen

If the world as we know it is to endure, then new and existing green technology must be implemented faster and more widespread than ever before. An important player in the global effort is the UNEP DTU Partnership centre, whose more than 70 staff from 27 countries are headquartered at UN City in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district.

It is almost 30 years ago since the then Risø National Laboratory, the UN’s energy programme, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark came together to create a centre of expertise within energy and environment with a developmental bias. This resulted in the UNEP DTU Partnership, which since the start of 1990 has grown in line with the major global climate agendas.

While CO2 emission and climate change were initially the main focus, the partnership is currently focused on keeping the global rise in temperature below two degrees. The most obvious step is to focus on the developing countries—not only are their populations the worst affected in terms of climate change, but these countries also offer the greatest potential for change.

Technology in focus
Much of the work going on in the offices of UN City and around the world has technology as its natural focus. UDP, as the centre is commonly referred to, helps the developing countries—among others—to analyse their technology needs, potential, and barriers for implementing technology for climate adaptation and reducing CO2 emissions.

Since 2009, more than 60 countries have been involved in this work and in June, a further 23 countries will begin assessing their technology needs and potential.

With a clear UN mandate, UDP is working towards fulfilling the Paris Climate Accord and several of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The Paris Climate Accord’s objective of keeping the global temperature increase under two degrees is the main goal and the agreement also specifically mentions technology transfer as a key point.

The two-degree objective was repeated once again in the UN’s Sustainable Development goal number 13 on climate initiatives. UDP is also deeply involved in goal number seven—the spread of sustainable energy—among other things as a hub for the UN’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative.

Integrated part of DTU and the UN’s Environment Programme
UDP was initially headquartered at Risø where it remained until 2013 when the centre was offered premises in the newly built UN City in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district.

Despite being relatively unknown to most of DTU and being located far from Lyngby campus, the partnership has a strong affiliation with the University.

UDP is part of DTU management Engineering, and the collaboration has both an administrative and research focus. Among other things, DTU Management Engineering has helped to analyse the correlation between energy efficiency, energy access and the degree of renewable energy—and DTU wind energy is involved in a project with mini wind turbines in Kenya.