blueEnergy works to create a more equitable, sustainable world


blueEnergy Presents at the Global Philanthropy Forum and the World Bank Spring Meeting on Energy Access

By Lâl Marandin -- blueEnergy was fortunate to be invited to Washington DC in April to participate in the Global Philanthropy Forum and the World Bank’s Spring meeting on energy access. While participating in these events, Mathias and I took the opportunity to meet with many constituents – and it ended up being one of our most productive networking opportunities ever.

Global Philanthropy Forum (GPF)

The forum took place April 16 - 18, 2012 at the Fairmont Hotel, under the heading “Toward a New Social Contract”.

“What brings us together this year is the sense that the social contract is fraying, but that it is also evolving,” began GPF’s President and CEO, Jane Wales. “The conference focus is on the changing nature of the global social contract – how globalization is changing the way our societies choose to divide up responsibility and allocate resources to improve the public good. GPF members are exploring the ways in which traditional roles and responsibilities have shifted over the past few years, and how they continue to shift – particularly the increasing power of the individual in the national and global arena, and how the private sector and government can and should work together to increase their impact.”

Videos of most of the forum are available here.

Many notables were in attendance: the Head of USAID, the President and Director of World Bank, the Head of IADB, the Head of IFC, the Director of UNICEF, ex-Premier Tony Blair, US Ambassador for Global Partnerships, UN Head of Climate Change, Cindy McCain and Barbara Bush.

In his keynote speech, Tony Blair insisted on the need for developing countries to invest massively in infrastructure and energy. Those comments that Mr. Blair intended for Africa (where he now works with the AGI Foundation) resonated strongly for the region where blueEnergy strives to help bring sustainable energy for all.

Ex-Premier Tony Blair during his keynote speech at GPF 2012

On a similar note, the Director of the Ford Foundation, Mr. Luis Ubiñas insisted that measuring results was key to the non-profit sector but recognized that many results (such as advocacy) are hard to measure. "That should not detain us," said Mr. Ubiñas, "from trying to work in complex environments and engage in activities which results cannot be measured by “hard” (numerical) indicators."

Much of the attention of the conference was on "impact investing", the concept of doing philanthropy like venture capital investments, often with an emphasis on a blended financial and social return. Both Mathias and I stressed that while this is the new hot topic, it is important to keep in mind that philanthropy needs to continue to play a key role in serving the most isolated poor.

Mathias and I were proud to be able to present blueEnergy’s work on the ground in Nicaragua, in the context of the vast majority of US international philanthropy shifting towards a few countries in Africa and Haiti. The Southern Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS) of Nicaragua, where we operate, is the poorest region in the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but often doesn’t get the attention of the development community.

“Co-Designing for Impact” Panel

Mathias insisted in his panel at the GPF on the need to "co-design" solutions for energy or clean water access to ensure their validity and sustainability in a world where there are no "one size fits all" solutions. He stressed how bE works with stakeholders to ensure that our results are long-lasting, and insisted on the importance of funding "collaboration work". This kind of work often requires a different skill set than normal program work and organizations must build and get funding for this.

Video of the panel is available here.

Photo (left to right): Moderator Katherine Rosqueta,
Executive Director, Center for High Impact Philanthropy, UPENN;
Mathias Craig, blueEnerg;  Kate Gross,
Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative;
Dominic Murren, HumbleFactory

World Bank Spring Meetings : blueEnergy’s Panel, “Business Models for Energy Access”.

Thanks to HIVOS, blueEnergy was invited to join the World Bank spring meetings on April the 18th, alongside social enterprise SELCO from India, Offset4poor and Arc Finance (US), entitled “Business Models for Financing Access to Sustainable Energy in Developing Countries”, moderated by the World Resource Institute and hosted at the World Bank.
On this panel, Lâl Marandin defended the idea that in places of great isolation and vulnerability such as the RAAS in Nicaragua where blueEnergy works, philanthropy must continue to support the development of the adequate business and service ecosystems for other leveraging mechanisms to pick it up from there: micro finance, use of technology (such as cellphone apps, etc..), social entreprise. Lâl explained that blueEnergy believes in the need to "co-design" solutions for energy or clean water access to ensure their validity and sustainability, being focused on a very specific reality (Atlantic coast) where we will continue to promote small solar systems, ecostoves and rustic clean water systems with business models where "sustainability" means investing in social impact first, not hoping for economical returns in the short or medium terms. blueEnergy will continue to explore evolutions of these models and learning opportunities with our partners from the Renovables association.

After the panel, in a quite serendipitous way we were invited to join the happy hour at the Bank Information Center, the NGO watchdog of the World Bank, and were able to meet with Christian Donaldson (BIC) and Sunita Dubey (Basic South initative).

Meeting with Ambassador Francisco Campbell - Ambassador of Nicaragua to the United States

On April 18th we met with Ambassador Campbell in the beautiful Nicaraguan embassy, on the East side of the building, in the "Caribbean Room". In our discussion, Mr. Campbell requested news about Miss Colette and the work with the Ramas. We gave him an update on blueEnergy and the work we’re doing with the Renovables association. We also explained our work with Corn Island mayor (Cleveland Webster) and how we’ve supported his participation at the World Water Forum, in France last March, in coordination with the French Embassy in Managua.
(left to right) Lal Marandin, Ambassador Campbell,
Mathias Craig

María Margarita Espinosa from PRONicaragua participated in the meeting. PRONicaragua was recently honored by the World Bank as the best investing promotion agency in the Americas, and they are a proud member of Renovables.

Throughout the four days in Washington DC we met with partners, funders, government officials and other stakeholders. We are extremely appreciative to all those who made the time to speak with us.

No comments:

Post a Comment