Radha’s Message for November 2015
I was excited and honored to join more than 500 attendees from 50 countries who came together this month at the Clean Cooking Forum 2015 in Ghana. Co-hosted by the Global Alliance and the Ghana Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, the Forum was one of the largest gatherings of leaders, advocates, and experts working to build a thriving global market for clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels. The collective energy felt in Accra – from partners, supporters, the media, and so many others — is something I won’t soon forget.
While there’s not nearly enough space here to list the countless highlights from the week, I would like to point out a few of the many people, events, and activities that helped make the four-day event such a huge success.
This year’s Forum attracted an incredible range of passionate people working around the world on the clean cooking issue. This included government ministers from across three continents. It included global business leaders, health researchers, entrepreneurs, advocates, and international investors. It even included an 11-year-old Ghanaian cookstoves advocate, Pamela Abdulai, who spoke passionately about the need for increased usage of clean cookstoves and fuels. To a standing-room-only audience, Abdulai said, “I want to make sure everyone knows about the benefits of clean cookstoves, and I hope one day that all girls in my country will use only clean cookstoves and fuels in their homes.” Advocates like Abdulai will be critical to our collective work toward universal adoption of clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels, and it was good to see so many in Ghana.
Thanks to the more than 300 abstracts submitted by Alliance partners, this year’s agenda featured an array of panel discussions and learning sessions not seen at prior Forums. The agenda represented the diversity and growth of activities and partnerships across the sector, and each played a role in driving home the event’s overall theme of accelerating markets and scaling solution. Along with the broad array of sessions and participants also meant that an incredibly diverse and productive amount of business, debate, and networking was taking place as well, which is one of the many focuses of a global gathering like the Forum.
And of course, this year’s host country – Ghana, helped make this year’s Forum one to remember. Ghana has taken significant steps to increase access to cleaner, more efficient cookstoves and fuels, making it a fitting place to celebrate the growing momentum in the sector. Support from our many Ghana-based partners, particularly the Ghana Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, as well as multiple government ministries, helped make the event a success. And of course, I would be remiss not to mention the incredible musical performance from international reggae star and Alliance Ambassador Rocky Dawuni, who had attendees dancing well into the night on Day 3 of the Forum.
With COP21 and global climate negotiations only days away, we must now turn our focus to climate change and ensuring global leaders recognize cooking’s role in addressing it. A recent Associated Press article “India sees clean cooking as climate action that saves lives,” was picked up by media outlets around the world and is helping highlight how governments can use cooking to take action on climate. The Alliance and numerous partners plan to be in Paris to push the climate issue onward.
As we continue our journey forward, I do want to say once more what a privilege it was to see so many passionate people and feel so much combined energy this month at the Forum. Together, we have made tremendous progress and celebrated many successes in the sector. But we can’t stop until we reach a world where cooking doesn’t kill.