COVID: Use the crisis as an opportunity to reset

In this article series we ask leading energy management experts about the impact of coronavirus. 

Ahmed ElFarra, Palestine

National Project Manager for Industrial Energy Efficiency, UNIDO

In Palestine, as elsewhere, the impact of the  COVID-19 pandemic on our lives has  been tragic as it was unexpectedly rapid. While the end of the restrictive measures seem imminent, the COVID-19 emergency is not going to be over at the end of the next lockdown. The knock-on effects will continue to afflict the world’s economy with a series of fallouts, the  extent of which is difficult to foresee. If uncertainty remains the key word, as confirmed by all analysts, Palestine must activate all its energies and resources to lessen the predicted suffering as a result of the repercussions of the pandemic. We need to manage the trend of the economy now more than ever before. To do so, it is necessary to monitor more attentively the production results and direct the course of economic initiatives where the greatest potential can be seen in  both the short and long terms. We must be aware that, in addition to the risks and renewed fragilities, the new scenario provides a series of opportunities that we must seize in the best possible way.

Among the most critical of these opportunities is efficient and renewable industrial energy. The impact of fixed costs has always held the Palestinian economy back; and energy, which accounts for 40 percent of production costs, represents the most significant item. Together with the Office of the European Union Representative (EUREP), UNIDO is promoting an energy-sustainable Palestinian industry through efficient renewable energy, smart grids, and cleantech. This constitutes a green transition within a circular-economy model that should be considered the very heart of economic stimulus packages. This medium- and long-term initiative has a great potential for the years to come and will prove crucial for economic recovery at the end of the health emergency in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

It is often said that behind every crisis lies an important opportunity to reset the system in a more virtuous way: never before have these words appeared to us as a more wise warning.

Factors that help spread the virus — poverty, poor health, limited access to health care and large families living in tight quarters — are present in abundance in the West Bank and Gaza. Prior to the crisis, a quarter of the Palestinian labor force were unemployed. The coronavirus outbreak will deepen unemployment, especially in the West Bank, where many Palestinians work in the tourism industry. Learn more about how UNIDO is helping to create and protect jobs with industrial energy efficiency. 

Innovation in a time of COVID. The COVID-19 pandemic will change the global industrial sector forever. In this article series we ask leading energy management experts about how the virus has affected their country’s industrial sectors and what businesses could be doing to prepare for an uncertain future.