January 11

Scott Anderson / James Militzer

When Will Clean Cooking Hit the Gas? An Interview with New Alliance CEO Dymphna van der Lans

In March 2018, Dymphna van der Lans was appointed CEO of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, succeeding Radha Muthiah, who had served as the chief executive since 2011. Van der Lans previously headed up international corporate engagement with the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate & Energy team, and before that was CEO of the Clinton Climate Initiative at the Clinton Foundation. The Global Alliance has since rebranded as the Clean Cooking Alliance, but that’s not the only change van der Lans has overseen.

With a rebranding effort that included a star-powered endorsement from actress Julia Roberts, the alliance co-hosted its first Clean Cooking Investment Forum, a gathering of business leaders, investors, donors and government officials in Rwanda. The organization, in concert with many other groups advocating clean cooking milestones as part of the Sustainable Development Goal process, is pressing for universal access to clean cooking by 2030 – though van der Lans quoted estimates that it will take up to $4 billion a year in industry investment to come anywhere near that goal. 

No one disputes the benefits of cleaner cooking in the lives of millions of people who currently cook over open fires, or use dirty and/or unsafe fuels to prepare meals. Nevertheless, the alliance has faced criticism about the lack of scientific data showing improvement in health, women’s empowerment, climate and economic gains among people who use clean cookstoves. Similarly, critiques have also focused on what constitutes “clean” or “efficient” when it comes to ranking cookstoves under global health standards.  

We asked van der Lans about these and many other issues late last month, when she visited our office in Ann Arbor. She had come to speak at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and stopped by NextBillion’s parent organization, the William Davidson Institute at U-M, to discuss where she’s taking the alliance and where the clean cooking sector needs to go. Check out our interview in the video below:



Article/interview by Scott Anderson, NextBillion contributing editor.  

Video production and editing by James Militzer, NextBillion editor. 

Homepage photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection, via Flickr.




Energy, Environment
clean cooking, impact investing, interviews