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International Partnerships

Sustainable energy

Sustainable energy is one of our key priorities. Through policy dialogue and investment in renewable energy, we help our partner countries transition towards modern, safe, and sustainable energy systems, to increase access to energy services and boost their economy, while contributing to the global fight against climate change.

Guaranteeing universal access to sustainable energy services is fundamental for socioeconomic development and inclusive growth. Energy is a transversal need. It powers schools, businesses, health centres, agriculture, transports, and contributes to the creation of jobs. Energy improves livelihoods, by facilitating access to water, cooking, heating etc. There can be no sustainable development without universal access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy.

Our approach

The global frame of our energy cooperation work is set by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2015) and, more specifically, the 7th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG7), as reflected in the European Consensus on Development.

Climate change-energy nexus

As energy and climate change are highly interlinked, our energy cooperation is also framed by the 13th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG13).

This is also reflected in the EU Global Strategy on foreign and security policy, which recommends blending development efforts in the fields of energy and climate.


Our approach focuses on building strong partnerships. We coordinate our work with other international development actors and EU member countries. We engage in true partnerships with our partner countries, who keep full ownership of their energy policies. We facilitate public-private partnerships to encourage the private sector to engage in sustainable energy projects. Viewing local actors as key players in the fight against climate change, we support cities alliances such as the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa.


As women disproportionately bear the burden of energy poverty, we make sure that our efforts in the field of sustainable energy always foster women empowerment and reduce inequalities. Giving them access to energy is not enough, we need to make sure they have access to resources (like credits), are included in the design of energy access projects, and are actively involved in the energy value chain, not just as energy users but as skilled workers or entrepreneurs.

The EU initiative ‘Women and sustainable energy’ is specifically dedicated to promoting the economic empowerment of women in the energy sector, with an overall budget of €18.1 million.


The biggest challenges in terms of transition to sustainable energy are concentrated in Africa. While millions of Africans still have no access to electricity and rely on polluting cooking and heating options, Africa’s energy sector presents significant potential to boost the continent’s economic growth and create jobs.

For more details on our privileged partnership with Africa in the energy sector, visit the Energising Africa section of this website.

Our objectives

For the period 2014-2020, €3.7 billion from EU development funds have been allocated to sustainable energy actions in partner countries. With this budget, our goal is to:

  • provide access to energy to about 40 million people
  • increase renewable energy generation by about 6.5 gigawatt
  • contribute to the fight against climate change by saving about 15 million tonnes of C02e/year

Our method

To reach these objectives, we prioritise 3 main courses of action:

Promoting political ownership and partnerships for implementation

Our energy cooperation efforts are always aligned with and complementing our partner countries’ own energy strategies. They drive their own energy transition and are accountable for it.

We are merely there for guidance and support. EU delegations facilitate a structured dialogue on energy with partner countries’ authorities and stakeholders.

Improving governance and reforms of the energy sector

Investing in the energy sector and new technologies is perceived by private investors as difficult and risky. To alleviate these risks and encourage investment, partner countries need to have clear rules, good governance, skilled and capable institutions, and a stable business environment. We support them in this aspect through policy dialogue and technical assistance.

For example, with a total budget of €65 million, the EU Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) helps partner countries enhance the investment climate in the energy sector, notably by helping them improve and harmonise their regulatory frameworks.

Boosting investment through innovative financial instruments

Building or developing energy infrastructures is expensive and usually requires combining different sources of funding. Projects also need to be bankable to ensure sustainability. We help our partner countries attract investments in different ways.

We are reducing investment risks for private companies through guarantee schemes as well as financial tools combining public and private funds.

8 of the 28 guarantees approved under the EU External Investment Plan (EIP) are related to sustainable energy and connectivity issues and expected to leverage € 17.5 billion in total global investment. Visit the Guarantees and blending section of this website for further information on the EU EIP.

Another innovative financial tool is the Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI) - a flexible financial facility aimed at reducing investment risks in the energy sector mainly in underserved or off-grid areas of partner countries. ElectriFI has 16 ongoing projects.

Related documents

8 MARCH 2022
Empowering Development - Implementation of the new european consensus on development in energy cooperation December 2017
8 MARCH 2022
Factsheet - Women and Sustainable Energy in Developing Countries
8 MARCH 2022
Summaries of the 28 EU External Investment Plan Guarantees