Two major injustices that plague the world today — stark inequality and the unequal impact of climate change. The two are intricately linked with the impact of one (climate change) grossly exacerbating the impact on the other (inequality). Inequality is often described from an economic lens and in terms of wealth ownership of the world’s richest vs the rest. On the other hand, if one begins to view inequality beyond an income lens and sees it in terms of access to quality education, health, employment, food security, financial inclusion, water resources and so on, the widening gap between the haves and the have nots becomes much starker.

Economic growth is often hyped as a sure means to rise above poverty but it cannot sustain at the cost of social and environmental injustice. Inequality should be viewed as a consequence of failed economic models. In many of the existing development programs, economic growth in itself serves little purpose and needs to be in consonance with a quality of growth that includes social progress such as access to good schools, health care, electricity, safe water which are not hindered by socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, and geography. Thus, it is critical to devise solutions that are more inclusive.  

Access to energy, in a sustainable manner, is among the most important anti-poverty (poverty alleviation) tools. It underpins all other development goals. Yet energy access as a way to fight poverty is often not prioritized. Many a time it is perceived as a technology or a simple add on intervention, while ignoring the broader system under which this technology solution needs to be diffused. Demand for more sustainable energy solutions that are accessible and affordable is set to increase for basic services such as health, education, livelihoods etc. to achieve their development goals.

SELCO seeks to conceptualize and implement an international knowledge and implementation platform based on the learnings from India and vice versa – Global Ecosystem Hubs – to position UN’s SDG 7 as a critical catalyst for a sustainable and equitable future in the Global South. A dedicated ‘Centre’ will be an umbrella organization capable of creating, supporting and linking multiple ‘Regional Hubs’ across at least 5 geographies.

The main objectives include:

  • Become a learning exchange platform
  • Transform effectiveness of impact by adopting an ecosystems approach 
  • Drive for sustainable energy and development agendas that are shaped and implemented among locally led voices in communities

This initiative is focused primarily on local stakeholders in 5 regions: Sierra Leone (West Africa), Tanzania (East Africa), Ethiopia (Horn of Africa), India (South Asia), Philippines (Southeast Asia).

The need for such a global South-South platform is imperative today for three reasons-

  • As marginalized communities are distributed across the world, the determinants of poverty are often similar across geographies therefore understanding the nature of poverty can be expedited when seen from similar contexts.
  • Rather than comparing countries on GDP, they can be categorized based on the maturity of ecosystems and therefore customize strategies that make sense.
  • A single approach to development and homogeneous programs cannot be scaled across regions with varying ecosystems. Instead, there needs to be a focus on processes that allow for multiplication of efforts via local stakeholders and leadership who understand the nuances of local contexts and priorities. Sustained development is often the result of decentralization of skills.

Stepping stones towards these efforts are currently ongoing in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Philippines and Sierra Leone with programs being co-developed with local partners. This work builds on SELCO’s twenty five years of experience for us to share our learnings, failures and successes with the world. Our work goes beyond Karnataka to help in a small way in other states and nations to build a similar sustainable energy access ecosystem.

Tags : Economic modelsEcosystemEnergy AccessGlobal HubsSDGSustainable Energy
Harish Hande

The author Harish Hande

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