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Workable Solutions Focus of Renewable Energy Meet in Sabah

Members of the Murut indigenous group in Sabah working
on installing a micro hydro turbine in Borneo.
KOTA KINABALU, MALAYSIA (8th Oct 2012): Community-based solutions and cost effective, reliable models for generating renewable electricity are among features of a regional assembly in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, that will do its part in creating a sustainable energy secure future for the planet.

The five-day Southeast Asia Renewable Energy People’s Assembly (SEAREPA) that starts on Oct 29 at the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sandakan will also explore an array of renewable energy technologies and methodologies.

SEAREPA coordinator Gabriel S. Wynn said the event aims to build strategic partnerships between renewable energy players in Southeast Asia, South Asia and the United States, and will include non-profit organisations, for-profit enterprises and governments.

“The Assembly will showcase innovative approaches of renewable energy pioneers, address issues affecting communities impacted by large-scale energy projects and galvanize investment in clean energy. It also aims to influence policy by integrating decentralized clean energy projects into development plans.

 “This is an open space forum where stories, struggles and solutions surrounding power generation can be heard. The demand for energy in Southeast Asia is placing severe pressure on natural resources and is displacing rural communities as demand is largely met through coal plants and large scale hydro dams,” Wynn said in a statement to announce the event.

Colombian children examine a miniature ram pump
built by Filipino organization AIDFI
(Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc.)
About a hundred people are expected at SEAREPA, with confirmations from groups in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos, including strong participation from the Bornean states of Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan. Joining them are representatives from India and the United States.

Among them are the Renewable Energy Association of Myanmar, micro-hydro practitioners IBEKA from Indonesia, the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute of Vietnam, the Lao Institute for Renewable Energy and the Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation (AIDFI) from the Philippines.

Wynn said distributed renewable energy projects have demonstrated cost-effective, equitable, reliable and environmentally conscious models for generating power, and that at this point, it is a matter of scaling them up.

He said the idea for SEAREPA evolved from a successful grassroots campaign to halt a coal-fired power plant in Sabah, and is additionally driven by the need for a more effective process towards addressing local demand for energy and the global problem of climate change.

“SEAREPA has been designed to stand apart from conventional energy and climate change conferences. Rather than following a strict agenda, the discussions will be driven by and tailored to the specific ideas and interests of the participants themselves,” he said.

Professor of Energy Daniel M. Kammen, who led a research team over two years ago to make a case for distributed energy in Sabah, is also attending the event, apart from representatives of Pacific Environment and International Accountability Project.

The registration fee is based on the carbon footprint of travel, with money collected going towards a fund for the organisation that demonstrates commitment on mitigating climate change through renewable energy.

“One other criteria we are looking for is the ability of the selected organisation to ensure the project’s resilience by integrating water or energy access with community enterprise, sustainable resource management and restoration,” Wynn said.

Experienced facilitators from Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia and Malaysia will keep discussions flowing at the event.

SEAREPA is co-hosted by Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), TONIBUNG (Sabah-based Friends of Village Development), Green Empowerment and the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC).

Wynn said limited places are still available for local participants, and that queries can be sent to


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