Derek Newberry

Guest Post: Gender and Sustainable Energy at WIREC 2008

saurabhSaurabh Lall is a Research Assistant with the New Ventures project.

A quick Friday point of interest from the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference that took place at the Convention Center here in DC earlier this month. The WIREC tradeshow showcased the latest developments in renewable energy technology, some of which have proven extremely successful in developing countries.

While the main panels focused largely on the financing and management of large urban renewable energy projects, there were several fascinating side events that discussed innovative, low cost renewable energy issues for the base of the pyramid.In particular, an event organized by the Stockholm Environment Institute, featuring experts from UNEP, China, Brazil and Ghana, examined how different actors in developed and developing countries can respond to environmental and socio-economic concerns about the impacts of rapid expansion in Biofuels production and trade.

During this discussion, Gail Karlsson from ENERGIA, the International Network on Gender and Sustainability presented a paper “Engaging Women in Small-scale Production of Biofuels for Rural Energy”, an interesting case study of how the collection of bofuels resources was creating an important income generating opportunity for women in developing countries.

ENERGIA’s goal is to contribute to the empowerment of rural and urban poor women through a specific focus on energy issues. Since in many developing countries women are the primary users and suppliers of traditional fuels, ENERGIA integrates a gender perspective into the planning, implementation and management of sustainable energy projects.

It is worth checking this organization out because their approach highlights the potential of decentralized renewable energy projects to not only provide electricity to rural households, but to also provide useful income generating activities.