New Delhi: The first general assembly of the International Solar Alliance will be held in India this October. The historic event is expected to coincide with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, signalling that New Delhi would employ the first treaty-based international government organization in India as a foreign policy tool.

As part of India’s strategy to cement its leadership among developing countries, the marque event is expected to be attended by representatives of 65 countries which are signatories to the framework agreement. The general assembly follows International Solar Alliance’s founding conference, co-hosted by India and France, in New Delhi in March.

“Of the 65 who have signed the International Solar Alliance, 35 countries have ratified it. It takes time as it goes to their respective Parliaments for approval. The first general assembly will be a big event," said one person aware of the development, requesting anonymity.

Other prominent intergovernmental organizations in the energy sector include the Vienna-based Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA).

Speaking at a press conference earlier this month, power minister Raj Kumar Singh had said that the ministers from the 65 countries will be attending the first general assembly of the International Solar Alliance. India has taken a lead in this and the other countries have recognized it, he added.

The general assembly will also witness the election of the office-bearers of the solar alliance of countries that was mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the India-Africa Summit in Delhi in October 2015. Besides, it will also provide a platform for the member-countries and investors to court and seek opportunities.

India has been looking at ways to leverage International Solar Alliance, which includes an ambitious outreach programme by reaching out to chief executives of Fortune 500 companies and starting a Solar Nobel prize, Mint had reported on 9 August, 2017.

International Solar Alliance’s mission is to undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of finance and the cost of technology, mobilize more than $1,000 billion of investments needed by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy, and pave the way for future technologies. “There will be a process of engagement," said the person quoted above.

The International Solar Alliance has been working on a $300-billion risk mitigation fund as part of a strategy to create a sustainable financing architecture for solar projects worldwide. The fund will be used to insure solar power projects against risks such as default in payment by electricity procurers, foreign exchange fluctuations and regime change. This, in turn, will help attract investors to the space.

While queries emailed to India’s ministry of external affairs on Thursday evening remained unanswered, a spokesperson for ministry of new and renewable energy told Mint that the newspaper’ queries have been referred to International Solar Alliance.

“We will let you know the dates and rest of the details once we have official word in place," an International Solar Alliance spokesperson said in an emailed response.

It was India and France who front-ended the attempts to set up International Solar Alliance and launched it on the first day of the United Nations conference on climate change held in Paris in November 2015. While initially, International Solar Alliance envisaged 121 sunshine countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn as its members, it was later announced that the membership of the body will be thrown open to all countries that want to join, with no criteria such as duration of sunlight and geographical location.

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