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The Rockefeller Foundation Announces Call to Action to Provide Sustainable Energy for One Billion People by 2030

Development finance, global energy, and multilateral agencies commit to accelerate electrification as the cornerstone of an equitable, global economic recovery

NEW YORK | December 10, 2020 – The Rockefeller Foundation today announced the formation of a global coalition aimed at providing sustainable energy for one billion people within this decade. Organizations joining this call to action include the African Development Bank, CDC the UK’s development finance institution, European Investment Bank, International Energy Agency, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Today one in ten of the world’s people (800 million) lack access to electricity, including half the population of Sub-Saharan Africa. Another 2.8 billion people lack access to electricity that is reliable enough to secure their livelihoods or power modern healthcare facilities and schools. The pandemic has only exacerbated the inequality of global energy access.

“In this era of unprecedented crises—including the coronavirus pandemic—we have a responsibility and remarkable opportunity to harness the power that can lead to a more equitable, safer world,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, “Our goal is ambitious yet achievable: to bring reliable and sustainable electricity, powered by renewable technologies, to a billion people by the decade’s end. Our success will empower millions of people to participate in a modern economy, growing economic opportunity for us all.”

As the world begins to focus on vaccine distribution and stimulus to help bring about a rapid end to the devastation of Covid-19, the new coalition is focused on unleashing the full potential of distributed renewable energy systems, including technologies such as mini-grids; grid-connected local generation, and storage; renewable power solutions for industrial and commercial clusters; and stand-alone commercial appliances. Over the past decade, technological breakthroughs have made these systems more affordable and easier to deploy; harnessing their impact is essential for rapidly providing electricity to power modern economies and critical social services.

Additional signatories of the call to action include the:

  • Africa Mini-Grid Developers Association
  • Global Association for the Off-grid Solar Energy Industry (GOGLA)
  • Gridworks (development and investment platform backed by UK CDC)
  • International Solar Alliance
  • Power Africa (government-led partnership coordinated by USAID)
  • Power for All
  • Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
  • Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL)
  • UN Climate Change Conference COP26 Presidency (UK)

European Investment Bank Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle, said: “The adverse impacts of climate change and environmental degradation, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic, are undermining the ability of countries to achieve sustainable development, and particularly the most vulnerable. Accelerating high-impact investments to improve access to clean energy is essential to address the climate crisis, fight poverty, and improve public health. That’s why the European Investment Bank is very pleased to join forces with The Rockefeller Foundation and its “Green and Equitable Recovery Call to Action” as a platform to promote the energy transition across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, by unlocking public and private capital flows into distributed renewable energy systems. This great initiative is fully in line with the strategic priorities and orientations of EIB’s Energy Lending Policy and Climate Bank Roadmap”.

As founding members of this Coalition, the organizations commit to:

  • Launch a global partnership to end energy poverty, bringing together local, national, regional, and international leaders, and institutions from the public and private sectors to unleash the full potential of distributed renewable energy systems (DRE) to improve the livelihoods of a billion people.
  • Mobilize and coordinate concrete DRE roadmaps to unlock public and private capital flows into DRE technologies that will create local jobs, promote sustainable livelihoods, and build an environmentally smart, resilient electricity grid of the future.
  • Identify and support appropriate regulatory, policy, and financial regimes in partnership with national leadership in order to build capacity and create an environment to increase renewable energy technology investments and associated economic development partnerships.
  • Collaborate to enhance project development and new financing instruments to catalyze billions of dollars of additional annual investment in DRE projects in underserved markets.

“Now is the time to be strategic and ambitious, and to take the decisive step towards the structural shift needed to fulfill the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and keep global warming at 1.5°C degrees,” said Francesco La Camera, Director General of IRENA. “Renewables-based energy strategies can help achieve multiple economic, social, and climate priorities -improving the livelihood of millions of people, creating much needed new jobs and erasing energy poverty. The world after Covid-19 can be more resilient, prosperous, fair, and equitable – leaving no one behind.”

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner noted that, “Ending energy poverty is critical for people and nations to thrive. We know clean energy can both rapidly deliver universal energy access and contribute to tackling the climate crisis. We know it can power a green recovery and the transition to a sustainable future. But we need to do more, we need to do it faster, and we need to do it together—we must join forces to step up action on clean energy.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how critical energy access is to people’s livelihoods,” said CEO and the Secretary General’s Special Representative to SEforALL, Damilola Ogunbiyi, adding “We know that distributed renewable energy solutions are now the most affordable and fastest way to reach vulnerable populations and achieve universal energy access. Immediate, concerted action is needed to increase commitments to renewable energy and realize its potential for helping countries jumpstart their economies, end energy poverty, and secure a more equitable and prosperous future for all.”

To support the coalition, The Rockefeller Foundation, SEforALL, and RMI have launched a new website that provides fresh insight and data on distributed energy opportunities. Go to

The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations.

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Media contacts:

Eric Gay
The Rockefeller Foundation
+1 917 912 6190