A sustainable planet will not be a reality unless millions of poor and vulnerable people in marginalized communities around the world are capable of pursuing sustainable development goals locally. Such a pursuit is possible by leveraging shared knowledge, infrastructure and resources, including energy systems, in environmentally benign ways. The sustenance of high quality and productive energy systems, on the other hand, is conditional to the endusers deriving a high degree of social and economic value from energy services, making them invested in the system’s success. Ignoring and sidestepping this critical complementarity prevents thousands of vulnerable and poor communities from adopting clean energy systems and successfully pursuing sustainable development.
A poor understanding of local sustainability aspirations undercuts global sustainability ambitions of a clean energy transition. This results largely from contemporary strategies for energy transitions that lack nuanced and explicit approaches to address the social, economic, cultural, infrastructural and governance attributes of resilient and sustainable futures in vulnerable places. In fact, most clean energy transition strategies are geared towards mitigation goals at the global scale and ill equipped to address urgent adaptations to climate vulnerabilities and enduring poverty at local levels.
This report argues for filling this key gap in pursuing local clean energy transitions and sustainable development by putting communities at the center of the solutions to intersecting challenges, and enabling them to creatively imagine and build participatory and inclusive energy systems for resilient futures.
Drawing from sixteen narratives of community energy systems from around the globe, this report argues that locally planned, clean energy investments in communities can be long-term investments in food security, socioeconomic opportunities, health and shelter, climate adaptation, community resilience, security, human rights, and democracy. Realizing such co-benefits of clean energy systems, however, requires a shift from top-down design to more localized and bottom-up design:
1. Create new financial models that attribute significant value to community co-benefits.
2. Build situated knowledge and coordination capacities within and around vulnerable communities.
3. Unleash the creativity and innovation of communities to lead the fight against climate change and the transition to a sustainable energy future.
Read more by downloading the report.