In 2013, the UN convened stakeholders to discuss how to best achieve the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative’s objective of doubling the global rate of EE improvement by 2030. Having evaluated numerous technology options, the UN identified district energy as one of five key sectors that will achieve this doubling, together with buildings, transport, lighting, and appliances and equipment. Consequently, UN Environment launched a new global initiative on District Energy in Cities in 2014 at the UN Climate Summit (the “DES Initiative”) with support from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The DES Initiative is supporting national and municipal governments in their efforts to develop, retrofit or scale up district energy systems, with support from international and financial partners and the private sector. The Initiative has brought together over forty partners - city networks, governments, industry, financiers, universities and operators - to build local know-how and capacity through demonstration projects and strengthen local and national policy frameworks, initially across six countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Chile, China, India, Morocco and Serbia. The Initiative's scalable framework has enabled its expansion into four new countries: Malaysia, Seychelles, Mongolia, and Russia.

The DES Initiative is providing tailored technical assistance and capacity building activities to local governments and stakeholders in the project countries to develop a replicable modern district energy approach. This will demonstrate the technical application of district energy as well as relevant business models and policy environments that can be scaled up in each country. This assistance is also supported by the partners of the Initiative.

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