Guest post by
CEO of UK-based charity Energy Aid
Jonathan is also founder and Chairman of technology consultancy The Bathwick Group, and Chairman of Change London, a social enterprise focused on sustainability and youth unemployment.
As we enter the United Nations Year of Sustainable Energy for All, Pauline Latham OBE MP hosted the Parliamentary launch of the newest Global Energy NGO, Energy Aid, at the Houses of Parliament in London. We were supported directly at the launch by DFID, IBM, Practical Action, Seeds for Development and The Ashden Awards.
The evening was one of the first major landmarks for Energy Aid as we continue to expand our presence in the international development field and the energy industry and strive to raise awareness of the need to ensure universal energy access. During the launch we stood among 150 of the UK’s leading business people, academics and political figures and called on them to help support us in our mission to eradicate global energy poverty.
Currently one in five of the world’s population lacks access to electricity, and nearly 3 billion people still cook over open fires. The lives of people in the world’s poorest areas including South America, South Asia and sub Saharan Africa could change forever if they had access to modern energy for heating, lighting, cooking, communications and mechanical work. Access to energy is vital if we are to break the cycle of poverty for hundreds of millions of people around the world.
The plight of energy-poor people was brought to life by Timothy, a farmer from Uganda who spoke about how access to energy has transformed his family’s lives. He also spoke of the opportunities that exist to help communities throughout Uganda and across Africa.
The feedback from this event and from Energy Aid’s presence at the launch of the UN Year in Abu Dhabi has brought the need for our unique collaborative approach to private sector engagement in the third sector into sharp focus. We now have a strong band of supporters from across the governmental, charity and commercial spectrum.
Now that our launch period is over, we are reaching out to corporates, other charities and political leaders and asking for their support. Providing universal energy access is one of the most important challenges of our time – but no one organisation can meet the challenge alone, and collaborative approaches are now needed.
With IBM and international development charity Practical Action as founding partners, Energy Aid plans to provide investment and resources including data, technology and skills to support charities and agencies running or planning energy projects for the disenfranchised, and we are developing a platform for private sector consortia to identify and fund new markets for energy services in many countries around the world.
Our research shows that only a fifth of projects in this space achieve their goals, and there is a lack of long-term planning and investment. We aim to address these shortfalls, combining commercial rigour, corporate expertise and finance with best-of-class NGO experience to create a charity for the 21st century that, working with existing actors, will achieve the change which is so desperately needed.