The energy-access community needs a “radical new approach” which emphasizes greater clarity and ensures that available resources are more widely distributed, according to a new report from a Shine partner Ashden.
The report from the London-based climate solutions charity shows that while COVID-19 threatens attempts to meet Sustainable Development Goal 7 – global access to sustainable and reliable energy – that is because the pandemic has exacerbated underlying problems, rather than creating new ones.
Ashden identifies three “ecosystem challenges” the energy-access community faces and recommends solutions to address them.
- CHALLENGE: Neither frontline organizations nor their funders/investors feel like they have enough reliable, actionable information about the others’ intentions and impacts.
- RECOMMENDATION: Intermediary organizations should actively enable trusting relationships between the two sides.
- CHALLENGE: Smaller climate enterprises, often those founded in (and run by people from) developing countries, face challenges getting sufficient resources. Or to put it another way, the report notes, the world’s top-10 solar home system providers have received two-thirds of total energy-access investment since 2010. Funders need to be deliberately more diverse in how they spend their money.
- RECOMMENDATION: Investors and funders should prioritize targeting smaller organizations, especially those run by local people and those from marginalized communities, an explicit strategic goal of their organization. This may entail adjusting the criteria for grants: “A ‘level playing field’ is not one where every organization is judged against the same metrics, but one that makes space for diverse contributions meeting a range of goals,” the report argues.
- CHALLENGE: The first two issues add up to the third, which is that currently the energy-access ecosystem is not moving aggressively enough to reach its goal of access to universal, low-carbon energy.
- RECOMMENDATION: Ashden calls for national energy plans which involve funding from both government and the private sector as well as market- and non-market-financing and focuses on local enterprises of different sizes.
The report also includes three case studies that examine the real-world implications of the challenges and solutions. Ashden also hosted a panel discussion of the report last month, featuring Sandra Smithey, Shine’s Director of Program & Philanthropic Engagement. Watch it here.