Radha’s Message for December 2015
As the climate meetings in Paris come to a successful close and we approach the end of 2015, there seems to be a sense of growing optimism around our issue, sector, and the global development community. In Paris, the proceedings were permeated with a “can do” attitude from the official negotiation teams, as well as from the numerous NGOs, indigenous groups, businesses community, and other stakeholders. In addition to the optimism, I also felt a sense of urgency. Thousands of miles from Paris, floods inundated Chennai and also the north-west U.K., toxic smog hit historic levels in China, and mudslides impacted the U.S. West Coast. While these tragedies were taking place, the constant headlines combined with the energy in Paris delivered a clear message — the time to act on climate change is now. To quote Christiana Figueres, “We are not in a world of business as usual, we're in a world of business as urgent.“
For all of us, COP21 served as an incredible opportunity to further our shared goals around cookstoves and fuels. There were constant discussions around the need to reduce CO2 emissions and short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon, and the degree to which clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels play a critical role. Related, some of the most promising discussions focused on the nexus between climate and health. Air pollution was acknowledged as something that was not only impacting the environment and climate in a negative way but also public health. There was also a recognition of the need for interventions that will ensure we hand over a sustainable planet to our children and grandchildren but also some that can reduce vulnerability of the world’s poor, women in particular, today.
Progress on development need not come at the expense of the climate and environment. The two must be addressed together. And a common thread woven through so many discussions was that people now see clean cooking as one of the most promising ways to advance development and climate goals simultaneously, which gives me renewed hope for the year ahead and beyond.
This optimism wouldn’t be possible without everything that we have accomplished together this year. Looking back on 2015, there were so many highlights and successes: the recognition of clean cooking as a priority intervention in the Sustainable Development Goals, the Pope highlighting cooking as a significant health issue during his Encyclical, and Indian Prime Minister Modi recognizing clean cooking as a climate action that can also save lives. Other major moments included the Alliance’s celebration of its five-year anniversary with the release of the Five Years of Impact report, multiple cookstove manufacturers hitting major milestones in sales, and the addition of China Vanke’s Wang Shi and Tata Trusts’ R. Venkataramanan to the Alliance’s Leadership Council, which will help us transform two of our biggest markets. Capping off the year, the Clean Cooking Forum 2015 last month in Ghana brought together over 500 people from over 50 countries, the largest international gathering of professionals working to advance the clean cooking sector.
[pullquote]Looking ahead to 2016, we now have clarity on the benefits of clean and more efficient cooking, and our combined efforts have shown that a market based approach can work. We hear increasingly from donors and other development stakeholders that together, the Alliance and our partners, have done an incredible job of catalyzing this sector, seeding the companies, and entrepreneurs and initiatives critical to building a strong, sustainable foundation for the future. Now, we must keep this momentum going as we begin to mainstream clean cooking into broader agendas. We must ensure global leaders and the broader development community make a stronger, lasting connection between the clean and more efficient cooking solutions and the many other areas our work impacts, including health, climate, gender, livelihoods and the environment. Only by establishing the interconnected nature of the wide-reaching benefits of clean cooking will we begin to transform this burgeoning sector into a global, thriving market that can solve the needs of the billions of people still being impacted by the way their food is cooked.
Thank you for your continued partnership and I look forward to another year of working together.