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Energy initiative to advance social inclusion, gender equality

The  Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and partners on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 launched the new People-Centred Accelerator – a voluntary partnership led initiative that aims to advance social inclusion, gender equality and women’s empowerment in sustainable energy.

Rachel Kyte

Rachel Kyte, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL). The COP22 Energy Day is being jointly organised by IRENA, SE4ALL, MASEN and AMEE

Announced on Gender Day at COP23, in Bonn, Germany, the People-Centered Accelerator has been developed with over 40 organisations from across government, civil society, private sector, finance and non-government organisations.

The Accelerator aims to gain and improve clean energy access for those who will not be reached by business as usual approaches. The Accelerator will focus on unlocking finance, both private and public, strengthening collaboration and connections between stakeholders concerned with energy, gender and social justice, and increasing women’s full participation in sustainable energy solutions.

Speaking at the launch, Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO, Sustainable Energy for All, said: “Part of the ambition of the Paris Agreement was to “leave no one behind”. The world has committed to leave no one behind. To keep this promise as we move through a clean energy transition, we need to think differently about how we deliver affordable, reliable and modern energy services to those who are most marginalised. By promoting the inclusion of women and the most marginalized in society, in efforts to achieve universal energy access, the energy transition can truly be for all.”

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Through gender-responsive and socially inclusive approaches, the People-Centred Accelerator will also complement ongoing efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework for Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “We know that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is key to the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement, climate change solutions and the Sustainable Development Goals. I believe that when we talk about a topic as significant as climate change and sustainable energy, women who are working in this field as well as those who are potential beneficiaries, are provided an equal opportunity to share their knowledge, perspectives and needs.”

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Ajaita Shah, CEO and Founder, Frontier Markets, a founding Accelerator partner that supports clean energy solutions in rural India, said: “We must place women at the centre of energy access to achieve deeper, wider impact. Investing in women is crucial not only for economic development, it is the key to productive household change to combat the barriers to energy access, sustainability, and scale.”

To coincide with the launch of the Accelerator, a new report – “Opening Doors: Mapping the Landscape for Sustainable Energy, Gender Diversity and Social Inclusion” – was also released.

The report maps the global landscape of support for women and marginalised groups in sustainable energy across organisations, programmes and policy that is already underway, including a focus on the 45 countries that are critical to meet SDG 7 targets. The landscape shows an active – but very fragmented – agenda that provides an important foundation to grow and accelerate action on gender and social inclusion in sustainable energy. To support this, the report provides immediate recommendations that philanthropic donors and development finance institutions can take to enhance the integration of these issues.

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Dr. Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund, who funded and helped catalyse the “Opening Doors” report, said: “Donors are uniquely equipped to help advance a truly transformative agenda for women’s rights by rapidly accelerating access to sustainable energy.  Grants and impact investments can build women’s leadership, champion powerful policies, seed new technologies, and scale women-led businesses. When women have access to clean and affordable energy, their families are healthier, safer, and more productive. As the world seeks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and uphold the Paris Climate Agreement, there is no other single strategy more effective than investing in women and sustainable energy.”

The findings from the “Opening the Door” report will support the ongoing development of the Accelerator and its core workstreams: demonstrate and help scale-up sustainable access pathways for the most vulnerable and hardest to reach people; direct capital to gender-responsive and socially inclusive energy businesses to support faster delivery of sustainable access solutions; and empower women engaged in energy service delivery to achieve autonomy, authority, and decision-making power at work.

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