Our last post introduced our challenge partner, The Converging World (TCW). In our first guest blog, TCW Programme Manager, Molly Byrne provides an overview of TCW, its history and mission.
More than 350 million people are still without access to electricity on the Indian subcontinent, and even those who do have access to the grid often face power cuts for hours each day. This has a detrimental effect on many individuals in India’s poorest communities. It can prevent individuals (especially women) from earning income, impacting not just households but the local, state and national economies.
The Converging World’s founder, John Pontin, came up with the big idea to set up a charity that uses donations to invest into renewable energy in India. Any surplus income earned from the sale of power from the renewable energy could be used to both invest in more renewable energy and to create an annuity to support social and environmental initiatives.
In 2008, The Converging World (TCW) used its first donations to invest in its first wind farm in India. The electricity is generated and sold through the grid to a third party (blue chip clients) and, after operating costs, any surplus is used to support our three programmes; eco-restoration (including rainforest restoration), community stewardship (including women’s empowerment) and increasing access to affordable sustainable energy.
Globally, deforestation is occurring at an alarming rate, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports that we are losing an area of forest equivalent to 48 football fields every minute. This affects the earth’s ability to sequester CO2 from the atmosphere consequently contributing to climate change.
At TCW our unique model doesn’t just avoid CO2 but also sequesters it and this is how; as our wind turbines produce clean renewable power, each kWh avoids carbon dioxide that would have otherwise been produced by India’s conventional power grid that predominantly relies on coal. The surplus funds are then used for reforestation where the trees go on to sequester a further 14 tonnes of CO2 per Ha of forest per year Reducing CO2 levels globally while also transforming the local environment by providing shade, improving local water quantity and quality and stabilising the top soil. As part of this programme, through our partners we also support a local women’s co-operative which collect the seeds, germinate and nurture them until they are saplings when they are then bought back from the women to plant. The women will then be paid to continue to care for these saplings for up to 2 years of the trees life transforming livelihoods for some of India’s poorest communities and individuals.
Access to affordable sustainable energy:
Providing sustainable and affordable options will help some of the most marginalised lift themselves out of poverty (especially women) whilst preventing environmental degradation. For example, we have supplied solar power to an orphanage, provided cook stoves to 50 women in rural India, and developed the community hub in the UK.
We believe that at the heart of any environmental conservation or poverty alleviation programme must be a community which is enabled and empowered to help themselves in organising their own futures whilst recognising the impact of local decisions on the global community.
‘Think Global; Act Local’ is a core principal underpinning all our work
Future generations ought to be given the opportunity to engage in climate change solutions, after all, it is the generation of tomorrow that will be most impacted by both the physical and economic effects of climate change.
Despite not being part of the problem, they can be part of the solution!