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New Delhi: India’s Ajay Mathur was elected as the next director general of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) on Monday at a special virtual assembly. “Mathur succeeds Upendra Tripathy, who has served as director general since 2017," ISA said.

Mint had earlier reported about India, through the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), proposing Mathur’s candidature and Mauritius withdrawing from the race, thus setting the stage for him to take over the top post at the first treaty-based international government organization to be based in India.

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ISA, co-founded by India and France, has become a significant public policy tool for India and is considered a counter to China’s ambitious One Belt One Road initiative. The Belt and Road initiative seeks to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, including railways, ports and power grids across Asia, Africa and Europe. Against this backdrop, Indian state-run firms such as NTPC have also been trying to leverage ISA to land projects in its member nations.

“I am ambitious about what we can achieve together," Mathur told Mint in an emailed statement.

The director-general has a four-year term, which can be renewed for an additional term. Mathur currently heads the New Delhi-based The Energy and Research Institute and will be taking over from Tripathy, a former secretary in MNRE on 15 March.

“Mathur’s leadership appointment to the ISA takes place in a year when addressing global climate change transition commitments will take center stage: 2021 started with the US’s renewed climate focus through the Biden administration and will culminate with COP26, the UN’s Climate Change Conference in the UK in November," the ISA said.

ISA, first proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, forms an important part of India’s efforts at a global leadership role on tackling climate change.

Mathur is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change and was earlier the director general of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. Apart from working at the World Bank, Mathur was also president of Suzlon Energy Ltd.

“I am deeply honoured by the faith reposed in me by the ISA Assembly," Mathur said during the organization's special assembly. “In my first hundred days, I would like us to initiate an assessment of solarisation opportunities in our member countries, including what do we do now and what do we do as the next step, and to identify the institutional and business models that can help implement these goals. At the same time, we would work with partners to enable the financing of the solarisation initiatives that we would like to take up now and finalize the first such financing partnerships in my first hundred days," Mathur said, according to the ISA statement.

India and France were re-elected as the president and co-president respectively of the ISA for a two-year term at its third assembly in October last year. Fiji and Nauru are the vice-presidents for Asia Pacific region, while Mauritius and Niger are the vice-presidents for Africa Region. The UK and Netherlands hold this responsibility for Europe. Cuba and Guyana have assumed the vice presidency for Latin America and the Caribbean region.

“The ISA, under the leadership of Upendra Tripathy has grown to become an able global body working effectively towards energy access, energy security and energy transition," India’s power and new and renewable energy minister and ISA co-president, Raj Kumar Singh, said.

“I have witnessed the ISA’s growth from the dream of an idea to the go-to international organisation on solar energy. As secretary MNRE, I negotiated the framework agreement of the alliance. As, director general of ISA I put all my experience, strength, and expertise to build strong governance, increase and universalize the membership, and implement concrete programmes to scale-up solar energy across our member countries," Tripathy said, according to the ISA statement.

The ISA framework agreement was opened for signing at the Conference of the Parties (COP-22) at Marrakesh in November 2016. As many as 90 countries have signed the framework agreement, while 73 have ratified it. Apart from working towards setting up a World Solar Bank (WSB), which is also expected to be headquartered in India, ISA is also the nodal agency for implementing India’s global electricity grid plan, One Sun One World One Grid, which seeks to transfer solar power generated in one region to feed the electricity demands of others.

“I believe that ISA has an important role in working with our member countries and the financial institutions to create and facilitate the funding and implementation of solar projects that can change our energy pathways to bring us reduced costs, better and more livelihoods, greater convenience, as well as reduced and ultimately zero-carbon emissions," Mathur said, according to the ISA statement.

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