Southeast Asia’s Road to Recovery: The Energy Context


Southeast Asia’s Road to Recovery: The Energy Context

Deadline for application: 6 August 2021

Flood Jakarta
Teaser Image Caption
Indonesian village devastated by flooding. Climate change will be bring about more severe floods and droughts.

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has set itself the goal of obtaining almost a quarter of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2025. With this, its member states underline their commitment under the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement to provide better access to a clean and safe power supply to their citizens. In this context, the promotion of renewable energies is far from just an environmental policy measure but one that is directly related to the improvement of quality of life.

While other countries in the larger Asia, such as China and India, have already established themselves as global leaders in the field of renewable energies, the picture is quite different for the countries within ASEAN, which together make up the seventh largest economy in the world. Fossil fuels still account for more than 80 percent of the energy mix in the ASEAN region, mainly from coal-fired power generation. The renewable energy landscape itself is still dominated by hydropower, with its negative consequences on ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as on the livelihoods of affected communities.

But the global community’s search for ways through the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact - and the larger shifts it needs to make toward a more sustainable future by ‘building back better’ - offers an opportunity for the region to advance its efforts towards a clean energy transition. The global health crisis has highlighted the critical role of energy in linking the socio-economic and environmental realms. Since the pandemic started in 2020, it has been crucial in pushing the digital economy, distance and online education, and other public services.

A post-pandemic world warrants having a more resilient and inclusive energy system, especially so for a region particularly vulnerable to climate change. Pouring more investments in sustainable energy can provide new job opportunities, which could help mitigate the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

As early as mid-2020, ASEAN and its member states have been putting together their post-COVID-19 recovery plans, which highlight sustainability and commit to take actions that reduce carbon emissions. In the second year of a still-raging pandemic, a clearer policy direction for such pronouncements is still missing. The UNESCAP 2021 report on the energy future in the Asia-Pacific found that not only were concrete measures to achieve these objectives unclear, but that many stimulus  packages announced to date have favored the use of fossil fuels.

Terms of Reference

Heinrich Böll Stiftung (hbs) Southeast Asia Regional office is issuing this call for papers/analyses that examine the region’s energy landscape and policy responses to the pandemic around topics including, but not limited to:

  • National and/or regional energy blueprints (or the lack thereof) in the context of ‘more sustainable and resilient future’
  • Barriers, including policy gaps, that prevent more investments in sustainable energy on the national and/or regional level
  • National and/or regional advocacy priorities in relation to sustainable energy transition
  • Case studies of decentralized and off-grid energy systems that provide key lessons to inform future policy recommendations
  • Potential areas for regional cooperation and analysis of countries roles in the energy market 
  • The rise of the digital economy and its implications for energy investments
  • Gender dimension of energy policies

This call is open to academics, researchers and activists in Southeast Asia.


Independent desk research

Production of an original paper with a maximum length of 15 pages (A4-size, single-spaced) Presentation of findings in a webinar

hbs expects its partners’ work to reflect reliable remote work and gender sensitivity and involve good communication with the hbs program coordinator and editing team.


6 August 2021: Deadline for application and submission of concept notes

16 August 2021: Approval of concepts and start of desk research

20 September 2021: Submission of 1st draft

22 October 2021: Submission of final paper

November 2021 (TBC): Presentation of paper in webinar

Terms of Payment:

Competitive compensation paid in two installments after approval of concept note and final submission.

Application Submissions:

Please submit by email the following documents in one PDF file: a CV, half-page concept note, estimate of the working days for the research and writing process, and daily rate.

Please use Southeast Asia’s Road to Recovery” in the subject of your email message to be sent to daniel.abunales <at> by 6 August 2021.

For questions, please contact:

Daniel Abunales

Program Coordinator, Ecology & Social Justice

daniel.abunales <at>