Transformative strategies, win-win solutions and enabling conditions for energy poverty eradication and climate resilient livelihoods - Insights from India, Indonesia and South Africa

11 July 2018 | Dr. J. David TàbaraPacia DiazLouis LemkowAuditya SaryDr. Takeshi TakamaLauren HermanusSean AndrewGina ZiervogelManisha Mishra

Ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services for all by 2030 (UN Sustainable Development Goal 7.1) would require bringing energy to 1.1 billion people currently without electricity and nearly 2.8 billion people without access to clean cooking facilities. This situation could compromise the attainment of the Paris Agreement climate targets unless green technologies and sustainable strategies are rapidly implemented. Special attention must be paid to understanding the social processes by which green innovations are being implemented at community and household levels. Hence, special attention must be paid to understanding the social processes by which green innovations are being implemented at community and household levels.

In this deliverable we have explored the agents, dynamics and enabling conditions for the implementation of ‘micro win-win solutions’ – those which start yielding economic, climate and sustainability gains in the short term and at community and household levels- in the domains of energy poverty eradication and climate resilience improvement in a selected number of cases of poor rural and peri-urban contexts from India, Indonesia and South Africa.

Potential win-win strategies assessed in this deliverable include the provisioning of de-centralised renewable energy services, novel forms to support fuel switching into wider development strategies, and the role of financial innovation and transnational networks in generating green business models and opportunities. 

Our research has used a variety of methods besides literature review and analysis of relevant secondary documents including interviews and field trips to the selected locations, as well as direct action-research by creating a new green SME to support resilient livelihoods and provide biogas energy in Indonesia.

Our reviewed examples show that while WWS and novel forms of GBMs tend to emerge in a distributed way -and seemingly unconnected from each other- they tend to be part of multiple kinds of capacities –including organisational, cognitive, and collaborative- created out of broad learning transnational networks. These networks help opening up new opportunities for green services and  develop local markets for products which contribute to meeting basic needs, while at the same time foster cooperation and support knowledge transfer with other agents. 

In particular, the more collaborative capacities are created at community level to align and integrate climate and energy poverty eradication solutions to sustainable development goals, the more it is likely that: (1) trade-offs between climate adaptation and mitigation can be overcome and (2) the overall costs of climate action not only may be reduced but further opportunities for leveraging private and public investments and cooperation among multi-level transnational networks may be created. In this respect the empowerment and economic - and systems literacy of traditionally disadvantaged groups in poor communities such as women or the young is critical. However, the examples studied here follow different organizing criteria and often combine various of them - e.g., beyond profit maximization, given that a main focus here is to alleviate poverty and inequality. This diversity of inspirational principles (e.g., circular economy, biomimicry or triple bottom line) helps to create flexible and adaptable solutions, and business models fit for different purposes and contexts under fast changing socio-economic and climate conditions.

A promising new venue for research in this science-policy domain is the assessment of solutions related to support a  Restorative Economy – that is solutions, aimed at restoring the economic, social and ecological capitals upon the conditions for sustainable development, poverty eradication and climate-resilient livelihood depend on. In fact, a new array of win-win solutions which move beyond just ‘doing less harm’ per unit of wealth (e.g. less relative energy consumption or GHG intensity per $) to create new forms of wealth by restoring the basic social-ecological conditions for sustainability appear to be the most robust and innovative strategies able to tackle the multiple sources and dimensions of poverty and vulnerability.