Bombardier Marks Dual Celebration – NetJets Accepts First Global 7500 Business Jet as Bombardier Delivers 1,000th Global Aircraft

  • Delivery of industry's longest–range business jet marks the first of 20 Global 7500 aircraft to join the NetJets fleet

  • Global 7500 aircraft continues to garner significant interest from customers who value features such as the largest and most unique cabin, innovative technology, unparalleled performance and the smoothest ride

MONTRÉAL, Dec. 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Bombardier announced today the delivery of the 1,000th Global aircraft. The major milestone was reached as the NetJets team led by Patrick Gallagher, President, Sales, Marketing and Services, took delivery of the private aviation company's first Global 7500 business jet.

The addition of a Global 7500 aircraft to the NetJets fleet redefines its large–cabin, long–range offering, and elevates the choice of travel options for its international Owners. With a 7,700 nm (14,260 km) range, NetJets Owners will be able to fly from New York to Beijing or San Francisco to Sydney without refueling stops. The Global 7500 aircraft is set to be the flagship aircraft in one of the finest fleets in business aviation. The largest and quietest aircraft in the NetJets fleet, this is the first of a firm order of 20 Global 7500 aircraft, sure to transform the way Owners experience global travel.

"We take pride in operating one of the industry's most advanced fleets, and we are delighted to accept our first Global 7500 aircraft today. The Global 7500 aircraft adds a new dimension to our long–range aircraft offerings," said Patrick Gallagher, President, Sales, Marketing and Services, NetJets. "At a time when demand for our aircraft is at its highest, our strategy is focused on continuing to deliver solutions that meet our Owners' needs and expectations. We anticipate our Owners will appreciate the added value the aircraft brings and know they will be thrilled to experience flight in the Global 7500 business jet."

"The incomparable Global 7500 business jet will now delight NetJets Owners not only with its industry–leading range, but also by its unique Nuage seat, Soleil lighting system and four true living spaces. We are proud that our 1,000th Global aircraft delivery represents the first Global 7500 aircraft to join the NetJets fleet," said ric Martel, CEO and President, Bombardier. "This double celebration sees our flagship aircraft become NetJets' flagship business jet, and it's a signature moment for all of us, as we cap off a remarkable year in aviation. I want to thank the many talented team members, past and present, who have supported the Global program during the last two decades, and our dedicated customers who have enjoyed the Global experience."

Both NetJets and Bombardier are committed to supporting a sustainable future. The Global 7500 aircraft boasts the first Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for a business jet. The independently verified EPD details information about the aircraft's environmental footprint throughout its lifecycle, and thus plays an important role in the pledge both companies have made to support the private aviation industry's commitment to environmental sustainability.

The 1,000th Global delivery reflects the continued popularity, longevity and reliability of the Global family of aircraft as it remains a consistent leader in its class. In addition to setting the bar for all business jets, the unparalleled Global 7500 aircraft is also a key economic driver. On the occasion of this dual announcement, PricewaterhouseCoopers led a study of the economic footprint of the Global 7500 aircraft in Qubec, Ontario and Canada. Results show that between 2010 and 2019, the Global 7500 program development contributed and facilitated a total economic footprint in Canada of $4.8 billion in GDP as well as an annual average of 3,386 full–time equivalent jobs. In addition, through its overall manufacturing activities, Bombardier is expected to contribute and facilitate $2.0 billion in GDP per year to the Canadian economy and 8,456 jobs per year on average(1).

Through Bombardier's R&D investment in the Global 7500 program, knowledge, innovation and expertise is being developed, contributing to the overall strength of the Canadian aerospace ecosystem.

(1) Total economic impact includes direct, indirect and induced impacts.

About NetJets
Originally incorporated in 1964 as Executive Jet Airways, NetJets Inc. has been setting""and exceeding""industry standards for more than 55 years. Today, NetJets Inc. is proud to be a Berkshire Hathaway company known for its unwavering commitment to safety and service. It encompasses NetJets, Executive Jet Management, QS Partners, and QS Security and offers a variety of travel solutions customized to fit each Owner's needs. This includes fractional aircraft ownership, lease and jet card options, aircraft management, private jet chartering, brokerage and acquisition services, and specialized security services. This is why so many of the world's most discerning travelers choose NetJets Inc. generation after generation. It is also because NetJets has the largest, most diverse private jet fleet in the world, which grants anytime access to even the most remote destinations across the globe. To learn more about the leader in private aviation, visit today.

About Bombardier
Bombardier is a global leader in aviation, creating innovative and game–changing planes. Our products and services provide world–class experiences that set new standards in passenger comfort, energy efficiency, reliability and safety.

Headquartered in Montral, Canada, Bombardier is present in more than 12 countries including its production/engineering sites and its customer support network. The Corporation supports a worldwide fleet of over 4,900 aircraft in service with a wide variety of multinational corporations, charter and fractional ownership providers, governments and private individuals.

News and information is available at or follow us on Twitter @Bombardier.
Visit the Bombardier Business Aircraft website for more information on our industry–leading products and services.

Bombardier, Global, Global 7500, Nuage and Soleil are registered or unregistered trademarks of Bombardier Inc. or its subsidiaries.

For Information

Marie–Andre Charron
514–855–5001, ext. 26493
KWT Global

Two photos acompanying this announcement are available at:–77bd–43d1–a0bb–d1f25cfcf865/fr–93b8–4650–a4a5–ae26334255ab/fr

The Carnrite Group Acquires NETZERO Middle East, Expands Energy Transition Offerings

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 02, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Carnrite Group ("Carnrite"), a management consultancy with offices in Houston, London, and Abu Dhabi, has agreed to acquire Dubai–based NETZERO Middle East ("NETZERO"). The acquisition will expand Carnrite's ability to help clients form and operationalize energy transition strategies. The transaction is expected to close by year–end 2021. Ashley Taylor, Managing Director of NETZERO, will join Carnrite as General Manager, Middle East & North Africa.

NETZERO specializes in carbon credits and offsets in voluntary carbon markets. Its clients include project developers, energy and industrial companies, and governments. NETZERO works with nature–based and engineered project developers to monetize carbon credits, while assisting companies in "hard–to–abate" sectors with sourcing high–quality offsets. Together with NETZERO, Carnrite's Energy Transition practice will be positioned to help clients measure, monitor, reduce, and offset emissions.

"We have built an ecosystem of partnerships with leading companies such as Persefoni and Data Gumbo. These relationships allow us to help clients efficiently measure and monitor their emissions. Beyond measurement, we've been working with clients in North America, Europe, and the Middle East to form energy transition strategies, decarbonize operations, and invest in low carbon and new energy projects like carbon capture and storage," said Nicholas Carnrite, Partner & Managing Director. "Our acquisition of NETZERO expands our suite of energy transition offerings and positions us to help clients offset remaining emissions."

Ashley Taylor added, "joining Carnrite gives NETZERO the global reach and resources needed to fully implement our business model and expand our offerings across the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and beyond. Together, we will serve as advisors in the voluntary carbon markets, while exploring whether there is an opportunity to identify, screen, aggregate, and secure funding for smaller–scale nature–based and engineered projects."

The NETZERO acquisition is the latest is a series of expansion moves by Carnrite. In 2020, Carnrite opened its first international office in London, United Kingdom and scaled new service offerings focused on Energy Transition and Digital Transformation. Earlier this year, Carnrite opened its office in Abu Dhabi, UAE. NETZERO will become a subsidiary of Carnrite's UAE holding company incorporated in Abu Dhabi Global Markets, which also has a subsidiary onshore Abu Dhabi.

About The Carnrite Group

The Carnrite Group is a management consultancy focused in the energy, industrial, and private equity sectors. From offices in Houston, Texas, London, United Kingdom, and the UAE, Carnrite deploys its unique combination of consulting and industry expertise to projects globally. Areas of expertise include strategy and transaction support, performance improvement, human capital, digital transformation, and the Energy Transition. To further augment its offerings Carnrite has assembled an innovative ecosystem of strategic partners that spans leading technologies and adjacent consulting services. Carnrite recognizes that its clients face difficult business decisions "" its mission is to make it easier for them.

African Network Fosters Unity, Fights Gender Discrimination & Advances Sustainable Development

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 2 2021 – The widespread 21-month-old lockdown, triggered by the corona virus pandemic, had a destructive impact on the global economy, claimed over 5.2 million lives, destabilized governments and radically changed lifestyles worldwide.

But the pandemic has also undermined the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including its highly ambitious goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

The world “is challenged like never before”, says UN Secretary-General António Guterres, but the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) still offer a roadmap to get back on track.

Guterres stressed the importance of an equitable global recovery, asking people everywhere, including Asia, Africa and Latin America, “to work with their governments to put people first in their budgets and recovery plans”.

Africa’s rich, diverse cultural and natural heritage, he pointed out, is important for sustainable development, poverty reduction, and “building and maintaining peace”.

Speaking at the fifth annual UN-African Union (AU) conference on December 1, he said ending the COVID-19 pandemic would be one key to recovery. But despite the AU’s continued work and joint efforts for increased vaccine access and medical supplies, only six per cent of Africa’s population – totaling over 1.2 billion people in 54 countries — has been fully vaccinated.

In an interview with IPS, Dr Djibril Diallo, President & CEO African Renaissance and Diaspora Network Inc (ARDN), said since early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused devastation to people’s lives and livelihoods across the globe.

Although the rates of COVID-19 infection in Africa are not as high as in other regions, the economic downturn and social disruption caused by the pandemic are damaging decades of development gains made in the continent, he pointed out.

“Statistics have shown its impact on poverty and hunger, especially in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, and increase in domestic violence, child marriage, and a decrease in female education”.

“However, I believe that the effects of covid-19 in Africa are still under study, and it will be premature to outline setbacks”, said Dr Diallo. The work to achieve the SDGs by 2030 is still underway, and there is no time to rest on our laurels, he declared.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: How would you rate the successes of your efforts to usher in an African Renaissance fostering unity between African nations and peoples of African descent in the diaspora?
And what are your plans for the future.?

A: The ARDN, an international organization headquartered in New York has been in operation since the 1990s. It serves as a coordinating body to unite the efforts of individuals and organizations towards a single purpose: supporting the advent of the African renaissance by fostering unity between African Nations and all peoples of African descent in the diaspora.

With support from the United Nations, ARDN launched an initiative to popularize the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa and the Diaspora. We have over the years created programs and embarked on projects that embody the virtues enshrined in the United Nations Charter: peace, justice, freedom, respect, social progress, equal rights, and human dignity, human rights, tolerance, and solidarity.

Beginning with Africa and the African diaspora, our initiative has facilitated and encouraged collaboration between relevant stakeholders to create understanding and awareness about the United Nations and its work and, as well as, create an enabling environment for the successful implementation and ownership of the Sustainable Development Goals framework.

Dr Djibril Diallo

Therefore, we rate our success based on the impact of our network in consolidating partnerships, collaboration, and communication between people of African descent and the world at large.

To this end, we have successfully developed community partnerships between Municipalities in the United States whose mayors are members of the World Conference of Mayors and their counterparts in Africa which has strengthened the economic and community development of the said Municipalities.

We have also brought University leaders from the United States to a number of countries in Africa thereby strengthening and facilitating knowledge exchange, the improvement of the quality of higher education.

We are in partnership with UN agencies on programs such as the ARDN Red Card Campaign – aiming to end all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls. In all of these, we pay close attention to the revival of and renewed interest in culture, arts, and overall growth of the African youth.

For 2022 and beyond, ARDN has identified the commission on the status of Women, the African Union Summit, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Day for the People of African Descent, and the FIFA world cup as strategic occasions around which activities may be built to increase public awareness of the Red Card Campaign.

We will also continue to roll out national and regional Red Card campaigns prior to Qatar 2022, and ARDN and partners will continue to twin universities in Africa with those in Europe, United States and Latin America.

Q: How widespread is your RED CARD campaign–launched on the occasion of the Women’s World Cup for soccer—aimed at eliminating discrimination and violence against women and girls, particularly in Africa. What related progress have you made in helping achieve the UNs SDGs 5, 8, and 10?

A: The ARDN Red Card Campaign was globally launched on 6 March 2020 at the UN headquarters in New York, and since then, we have made steady progress towards getting partners on board and the message to the general public.

It is a partnership with the United Nations system (UNFPA, UNWOMEN, UNDP, UNHABITAT), FIFA, the Government of Costa Rica and the Conseil Presidentiel pour l’Afrique of the French Government.

An integral goal of the Campaign is to obtain a minimum of one million commitments throughout the Globe by the FIFA World Cup of November 2022 in Qatar. Accordingly, this Campaign is ARDN’s principal priority area for 2022.

In this context, we have conducted a number of national and regional rollouts of the ARDN Red Card Campaign in strategically identified countries and regions with a view to accelerating for stakeholder commitments to the Campaign.

The Red card campaign goes beyond gathering a million signatures. It is also about highlighting the intrinsic nature of violence and discrimination against women and an avenue to showcase and honor individuals, programs, or policies that have effectively reduced or eliminated violence and discrimination against women and girls.

We hope to impact global policies and promote the role of women and girls in the socio-economic development of Africa and Africans in the diaspora.

Q: What are the major impediments against the economic advancement of Africa? Shortage of development funding? Rising external debts? Lack of foreign investments? Or Absence of political will?

A: I would say that the answer lies in part of each of your sub-questions with the understanding that today there is a new generation of African leaders who have rolled up their sleeves and fighting to bring about recovery and development for their People’s.

The problem is that those stories of Africa’s efforts are not making it to the media that matters.
So, we need to address two important points in this connection: The challenges that Africa faces in efforts for economic advancement on the one hand and the overall negative projections of Africa in the international media.

There needs to be more media coverage of the efforts of those African countries which are investing in their young people in order to harness the projected demographic dividend. Youth unemployment is another major challenge.

It has led to high numbers of unemployed and disempowered youth migrating through illegal and treacherous routes to Europe or contributing to political conflicts and civil unrest on the continent.

Climate-related hazards further threaten livelihoods and undermine already fragile systems for human capital development.

Q: A new report released October 19 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns that changing precipitation patterns, rising temperatures and more extreme weather contributed to mounting food insecurity, poverty and displacement in Africa last year. The report says the rapid shrinking of the last remaining glaciers in eastern Africa, which are expected to melt entirely in the near future, signals the threat of imminent and irreversible change to the Earth’s system. Are African leaders conscious of the impending natural disasters caused largely by climate change?

A: Africa’s substantial participation at the recently ended COP-26 is yet another indication of the continent takes the issues of climate change. Many African leaders are acutely aware of the impending natural disasters primarily caused by climate change.

Because of the continent’s vulnerabilities, we are witnessing more support from within Africa for international efforts to combat global warming and climate change. African governments were the key advocates behind the 1994 UN convention to combat desertification.

Several African countries are signatories to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first and only international treaty setting binding limits on pollution emissions.

In the follow up to COP 26 (in Scotland last month), I believe we will see fundamental changes in the global approach to climate change, including Africa’s own challenges.

Addressing climate change has been an important program for ARDN, most notably by organizing a side event for the July 2019 meeting of the African Union in Niamey, Niger. For this event we worked with the UNDP to bring young people from 26 African nations to discuss the impact of the desertification of the SAHEL in a series of debates and forums called “Reversing the Sahel”.

A Niamey proclamation listing necessary action steps was issued from this meeting and, in keeping with ARDN’s mission, helped establish a network of contacts among the young participants.

Finally, the youth and women have been the key constituencies around which ARDN has articulated its strategies on fighting climate change.

Footnote: Meanwhile, speaking at the conclusion of the fifth Annual Conference between the United Nations and the African Union on December 1, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the people of Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available to them.

Nor should they be collectively punished for identifying and sharing crucial science and health information with the world. With a virus that is truly borderless, travel restrictions that isolate any one country or region are not only deeply unfair and punitive — they are ineffective.

Dr. Djibril Diallo, with over 35 years of experience in international relations, has served in several UN agencies: as Regional Director for West and Central Africa and Senior Advisor to the Executive Director in the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); as Director for the UN New York Office of Sport for Development and Peace from 2004 to 2008; as Spokesperson for the President of the UN General Assembly 2004-2005; and as Special Advisor to the Executive Director and as Deputy Director of Public Affairs at UNICEF in 1986.


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Building a Disability-Friendly Workplace: Why Includability Matters

An includable leader knows that not everyone comes from the same space with the same privileges. They are aware of systemic barriers that dictate interactions between people of different genders, classes, or abilities, according to the author. Credit: United Nations - Awareness of differences is not the barrier to includability. It is the inability to create a common ground for dialogue, which requires strategic planning and building competency

An includable leader knows that not everyone comes from the same space with the same privileges. They are aware of systemic barriers that dictate interactions between people of different genders, classes, or abilities, according to the author. Credit: United Nations

By External Source
BENGALURU, India, Dec 2 2021 – In her famous speech ‘The Danger of a Single Story’, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns us against a singular narrative of a person—a stereotype. This, Adichie asserts, is not because stereotypes are untrue, but because they are incomplete—“They make one story become the only story.” This is true in all walks of life, including in our interactions with people with disabilities at workplaces.

The consequence of the single story, according to Adichie, is that it robs people of dignity. “It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasises how we are different rather than how we are similar.”

Take the example of my brother, Hari. He topped the MBA programme in Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. He has a visual disability, and he managed his education with the help of audio cassettes, screen reader software, and the internet. But when it came to his placement, none of the employers wanted to hire him because of his ‘blindness’. He went through 70 interviews.

To go beyond the differences, leaders must focus on the commonalities between them and the person they are interacting with. To be an includable leader, one must do away with the us-versus-them narrative

The problem was not that the interviewers saw him as a person with vision impairment, but that they could see only one ‘story’ of him—his disability. It created fear and discomfort, and took precedence over any other stories that would have helped the interviewers see his personality, conduct the interview, and gauge his competence.

They focused so much on how he was different from them that they did not even try to look for similarities. Hari likes cricket, a sport with billions of admirers across the country, and this could have been a conversation starter for some of them. Or someone could have simply said, “Hey, I have never met a blind person. How do I interview you?”

EnAble India’s idea of includability—the ability to include—emerged from this and many other experiences I had with leaders, managers, and employees across organisations. I realised that awareness of differences is not the barrier to includability. It is the inability to create a common ground for dialogue, which requires strategic planning and building competency.


What is includability quotient?

Becoming an includable leader requires cultivating what we call an includability quotient (IncQ)—a competency framework for leaders on how to include diverse people in their organisation. A leader with a high IncQ is able to get the most out of their team, and is guided by three broad principles:

1. Internalising the landscape

An includable leader knows that not everyone comes from the same space with the same privileges. They are aware of systemic barriers that dictate interactions between people of different genders, classes, or abilities. They are also aware of how these barriers intersect, and actively plan strategies to overcome them.

For example, disability, lack of access to education, and poverty are often interlinked. To overcome this, we urged the leaders in a multinational corporation (MNC) we had worked with to hire persons with disabilities who had earned diplomas—for a position for which a degree was otherwise necessary.

The leader took the right decision to hire and provided a level playing field to overcome the inequities which come with the landscape. Their next step was to offer the employees a scholarship to pursue their degree later. Similarly, there are information technology (IT) companies that provide a loan for modified two-wheelers to people with disabilities for easy access to the workplace. In each example, the leader used their competency to distinguish a level playing field from an ‘excuse’.

2. Normalising the differences

To go beyond the differences, a leader must focus on the commonalities between them and the person they are interacting with. An includable leader does not function with an us-versus-them narrative. They actively try to facilitate conversations by using appropriate language and triggers.

However, like all conversations, this normalisation of differences is a two-way process. Employees with disabilities must be equipped with self-advocacy tools that help them to identify as more than their disability. The tools can include hobbies, adjectives, and aspirations that might spark an exchange.

For example, when a leader met Ajay*, a person with intellectual disability who is 38 years old and speaks in monosyllables, the leader didn’t know what to say. However, when Ajay presented them with a card where he described himself as a cricket lover and as Mr Dependable, the leader asked him about cricket. With this topic, Ajay gradually opened up and spoke a couple of sentences. The leader could see his personality, which may not have been possible if only the term ‘intellectual disability’ was ringing in his head.

In another instance, a manager had to familiarise his interns with domain-related video content in an American accent. To make it easier for the interns who might have found a non-Indian accent a barrier to understanding, the manager first introduced similar content in an Indian accent to them. This was a learner-centric approach that worked for people from different backgrounds.

3. Changing expectations    

Every person is capable of growth. Our inadequacy as leaders and managers is that at times we fail to remember this. An includable leader uses appreciative inquiry (AI)—an evaluation mechanism that focuses on the strengths rather than the weaknesses of an employee. This is applicable to employees coming from all kinds of spaces—be it a person with or without disability. And it is done with the belief that what you focus on will grow.

Whenever a new employee joins the team, the leader figures out their strengths and gains an understanding of the systemic barriers they face. From here both of them can go on to co-create solutions. Once this is done, the boundaries need to be pushed by focusing on the employee’s strengths.

Take, for instance, the case of an MNC that hired a person with intellectual disability for an internship. In the initial days, the intern mostly interacted with their manager and a colleague who was assigned to them as a buddy. With time the intern was made to attend presentations, which interested them enough to want to present on their own.

The MNC’s strategy was to make the intern speak on any topic of their choice for five minutes to a small team. As a second step, the management provided the intern with the topic to speak on. And, finally, the intern was asked to make a formal presentation to a larger team.

The MNC’s process of gradually moving the metre helped the intern gain confidence to speak in front of people and accumulate technical knowledge from the interactions. This kind of intervention helps employees not only in their current job but also going forward in their career. Additionally, a leader skilled enough to design and implement such a process gathers the confidence to work with team members from various facets of society.


Lessons for nonprofits

These are not easy lessons to learn for even the most eager leaders and managers—not because they do not want to engage, but often because they do not have a language to communicate their guilt, worries, and discomfort when they encounter a person they see as different from themselves.

Finding that common language requires a leader and a colleague to first learn to self-include. This involves feeling comfortable about themselves by gaining awareness of their own space, which comes with its own difficulties. It includes being able to speak openly about their problems and concerns—be it personal or professional. It is only then that a workplace can become truly inclusive.

As facilitators working with organisations, our job is to make space for these conversations at various levels. This requires us to build a nuanced understanding of the various elements that form an organisation—only then can we come up with tools, methods, and strategies. Here are some of the lessons I have learnt over the years:

1. An includable workplace is more than the leader

While speaking with and educating leaders is an essential part of creating an inclusive workplace, the idea needs to travel across the organisation. The leadership has to play the role of an implementer in bringing changes at various levels. This includes individuals being comfortable with and understanding the needs of a colleague with disability, as well as people with disabilities being able to assert an identity that is more than their disability.

2. ‘Peacetime’ interactions go a long way

We have seen that people with disabilities and those without have more fruitful interactions when these are facilitated during ‘peacetime’—an informal, non-work setting. For instance, when a person without disability studies with a person with disability at school or when they work together as volunteers, there’s a chance that they might be able to build a sustainable bond that’s beyond notions of ability and disability. Peacetime creates an exposure opportunity where the knowing and acceptance happens in a non-threatening way.

3. Facilitators need to keep introspecting

Conversations around disabilities demand a space of vulnerability. This is true for participants across the intersections of people with disabilities, non-profit facilitators working with people with disabilities, and leaders. It is easy to form attachments, look out for each other, and become protective of each other. However, as facilitators, we must be wary of our actions that stem from these emotions.

Our well-intentioned protectiveness can stand in the way of a person being able to push their limits and prepare for the competitive world of employment. This is a clear deviation from our own idea of building together a more equitable world. Thus, we need to constantly evaluate our actions. Because that equitable world—in Adichie’s words, “a kind of a paradise”—will emerge not from our guilt or pity, but from our rejection of the singular narratives of individuals.

*Name changed to maintain confidentiality.

With contributions from Gayatri Gulvady.

Shanti Raghavan, the author of this article, is a social entrepreneur and the co-founder of EnAble India, which works towards providing economic independence to persons with disability

This story was originally published by India Development Review (IDR)

Clean Energy Alone Won’t Uplift Impoverished Nations — We Must Invest in People

Clean Energy Alone Won’t Uplift Impoverished Nations — We Must Invest in People - Solar panels generate the energy with which farmers pump water to irrigate their gardens in Pintadas, in the northeastern state of Bahia, Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

Solar panels generate the energy with which farmers pump water to irrigate their gardens in Pintadas, in the northeastern state of Bahia, Brazil. Credit: Mario Osava / IPS

By Philippe Benoit
Dec 2 2021 – Last month, at the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow, a consortium of philanthropies, led by The Rockefeller Foundation, announced a massive program to fund renewable electricity projects for impoverished people in developing countries.

The establishment of the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) is welcome news. But when it comes to generating the strongest benefit for the impoverished, funding for clean electricity should be complemented by a substantial investment in the people themselves — one that is designed to enable them to best use these clean electrons to increase their family’s income and rise out of poverty. This is a thrust already embedded in GEAPP’s proposed approach that needs continued emphasis during implementation.

GEAPP is a multi-billion dollar program to help transition the energy system to renewables, with a focus on developing countries. It “aims to extend clean, productive-use energy to 1 billion underserved people, create tens of millions of green jobs, and avoid and avert over 4 billion tons of emissions.” A key component is investments to build distributed renewable energy systems that can be set up rapidly and located near consumers in poor, often rural, communities. Improving the lives of citizens is a key objective.

The billions to be invested in building new distributed renewables and other clean energy systems need to be accompanied by a massive investment in strengthening the capacity of the impoverished end-users themselves

We can, however, easily be distracted by the magnitude of the money being proposed to build out clean power systems and forget that electricity, in and of itself, will not overcome poverty. Appropriately, the GEAPP points to the new jobs in renewables and other clean energy businesses its investments will generate.

More significantly, it also emphasizes the even larger number of jobs it will create or improve in other sectors (such as agriculture and manufacturing) by providing electricity access to small businesses and other end-users quickly from nearby distributed generation systems. Giving more electricity to the energy-deprived will also produce health, education, safety and other benefits.

For all these reasons, the GEAPP is an important anti-poverty initiative in addition to a climate one, and its multibillion-dollar mass is not only impressive but also what is needed.

The world’s most impoverished, unfortunately, often lack the tools to transform electrons into incomes. The barriers they face include a lack of technical skills to select, operate and maintain the most suitable equipment; lack of know-how about setting up micro-enterprises; lack of exposure as to how to grow these enterprises into small and medium-sized businesses that can employ more people; and importantly, lack of access to credit to purchase new equipment and other assets to grow their businesses.

Impoverished entrepreneurs looking, with the benefit of newly supplied clean electricity, to set up a business or expand an existing one will need support in answering a variety of possible questions. Is there a potential market for a new tire repair store? Which equipment makes the most sense to buy, and is it available and affordable? With new access to locally provided, more reliable and cheaper electricity, does it make sense to expand a home-based business? Where can small or even micro-household entrepreneurs get the money to exploit that new distributed renewable electricity they now receive? Are there credit centers nearby and how do you apply for a loan? Does stable access to the internet powered through a reliable renewable electricity supply open up opportunities? To answer these and a myriad of other possible questions, many disadvantaged entrepreneurs need help.

To aid them to overcome these challenges, the entrepreneurs would benefit from targeted capacity building and other assistance programs. This support will often need to cover soft skills, in addition to assistance with hardware and money. Just as there have been agriculture extension programs to help farmers, we need electricity extension programs to help under-resourced entrepreneurs.

Vocational, technical and similar training programs, as well as mentorships, partnerships and twinning arrangements with more established businesses, are useful. Moreover, it is important to bring these services to the end-users, rather than requiring them to travel long distances, often to reach difficult urban centers. Distributed renewables generation needs to be mirrored by distributed training programs, together with local credit and equipment centers that bring support to the users in their communities.

These initiatives will not overcome all the barriers impeding poverty alleviation (such as the limited markets that can constrain business opportunities in many impoverished rural communities), but they can help.

GEAPP has the breadth and the ambition to implement the necessary expansive capacity support programs at scale. The billions to be invested in building new distributed renewables and other clean energy systems need to be accompanied by a massive investment in strengthening the capacity of the impoverished end-users themselves.

Experience, however, has demonstrated that it is often more difficult to bolster soft skills and successfully empower disadvantaged families than it is to build out electrical systems. Success will require not only substantial amounts of funding but also a large number of people on the ground in the communities and establishing complementary policies and programs for the impoverished.

GEAPP’s plans to work with local partners in each market and engage development banks and other delivery partners can help establish the necessary foundation for advancing on these fronts. Maintaining focus and commitment on the softer capacity and programmatic areas for those in poverty will be important even as GEAPP funds its large-scale investments reshaping the electricity system itself.

Strengthening the capacity of impoverished people to transform electrons from renewables into incomes and other economic and social advancements can help these families produce their own better future. GEAPP provides a strong potential platform to advance this effort. Actual implementation will be key and empowering those experiencing poverty needs to remain a focus.

First published in The Hill on November 17, 2021

Philippe Benoit has over 25 years of experience working on international development and energy issues, including in management positions at the World Bank and International Energy Agency.  He is currently managing director, Energy and Sustainability, with Global Infrastructure Advisory Services 2050.


Volunteerism: Central to the Creation of a New Social Contract

By Simone Galimberti
KATHMANDU, Nepal, Dec 2 2021 – The International Volunteer Day, on December 5, is not just one of the many internationally observed days that the United Nations commemorates annually.

Its significance is much broader especially because volunteerism can truly become one of the most important tools at our disposal to promote a different development paradigm and overcome all the challenges that the ongoing pandemic has exacerbated.

It is also central to one of the top priorities set by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, the creation of a new Social Contract that can re-draw the relationships between governments and citizens, finding new venues for the people to participate in the public life, especially from the perspective of novel ways to think about policy making.

In this sense, volunteerism is an agent for change because it one of the best expressions of civic engagement and therefore it will deserve much more attention and with it, much more resources in order to help solving the most substantial issues the humanity is facing.

That’s why the role of United Nations Volunteers, UNV is going to be central. As a semi-independent agency, formally part of the UNDP, UNV can really become an engine to promote volunteerism, a concept that includes several activities from mutual help to advocacy to direct service provision.

Over the last two years UNV has undertaken a major exercise in rethinking the role of volunteerism. In July 2020, UNV, in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent, IFRC, galvanized the global volunteering community with a major exercise to discuss and frame the role volunteerism has in achieving the Agenda 2030.

Entitled “Re-imagining Volunteerism”, this event, formally known as a global technical meeting, led to the definition of the Plan of Action to Integrate Volunteering into the 2030 Agenda, a “framework under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) through which governments, volunteer-involving organizations, UN agencies, private sector, civil society and academia come together to strengthen people’s ownership of the 2030 Agenda and integrate volunteering in national strategies and policies”.

One of its most visible outcomes is the Call for Action, an inspiring document that is guiding the international community on harnessing the power of volunteerism for the common good.

As part of this ambitious process, UNV also opened up several community groups to discuss about key issues, including, the most recent one, just concluded, over the ways that volunteerism can become more inclusive and accessible.

The fact that UNV is opening up and asks for suggestions and ideas is a very important development, an effort that must acknowledged and praised. It is also something that holds much potential in order to create a global community of practitioners engaged over the ways volunteerism can be promoted and scaled.

With the end of this year, UNV is also set to launch a new multi annual strategic plan and, while the details of the new plans still remain undisclosed, it is key that the leadership at UNV makes such process as open and as transparent as possible.

Open, accessible consultations are one of the best ways to let practitioners and social scientists alike to contribute in shaping the next milestones for UNV.

The future strategic goals of this semi-autonomous agency must be aligned with the comprehensive blueprint that Secretary General Guterres launched in September, Our Common Agenda that is an ambitious set of plans to re-energize multilateralism.

One of key aspects of this plan is the strengthening of the UN system of its work and engagement with youth and as result, the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth will be strengthened in the coming years and a new office for youth will be established.

This is an important development because in the past UNV also played an important role as a sort of youth focal point within the United Nations, an interesting proposition but also complicated one because we know that volunteerism transcends age groups.

So, one of the key questions in the new strategic plan of UNV will be how to contribute to reinforcing the youth agenda within the UN system without alienating other key stakeholders that still can play a huge role in promoting and implementing volunteerism around the world.

For sure, youth can be a vehicle, a bridge to reach out other age groups, an insight that surely is being taken into account by UNV in its strategic planning process.

At the same UNV needs to be strengthened and provided with more resources in order to help achieve the SDGs and play a crucial role in defining the boundaries and features of the New Social Contract.

More resources would allow UNV to open more country offices. For example, a country like Indonesia, with a strong volunteering culture and major international player, still does not count with a UNV office.

Additional resources will allow UNV to experiment with new programs that can promote inclusive forms of volunteering, especially because it is now widely recognized that volunteerism can be an equalizer and tool through which a youth can develop personal leadership.

It is also indispensable that UNV is enabled to play a much stronger role as advocate and champion of volunteerism wherever the UN is active, with the technical expertise and resources to support governments to implement volunteering actions on the ground, even though policies or specific legislations.

An empowered, more vocal, stronger UNV won’t only be in need of much stronger support by the international community. The stakes at play will also require UNV to modernize and become more and more agile, flexible, faster and open to local communities.

This will require a change in the working culture as UNV reflects many of the positive aspects of the UN system in terms of professionalism and high standards but it is also inevitable that it also incorporates the less positive sides that typically characterize huge international organizations.

The changes made in terms of setting up community groups to talk and discuss about policies can be scaled up and made it easier and more user friendly. But this is just one aspect that need to be improved.

In order for UNV to scale up its role, we need an organization that is able to get out of the “balloon” typically and to some extents, inevitably associated with the UN. To some extents, it needs to embrace a sort of startup culture symbolized by more informality and openness to fail and risk.

In short, a t-shirt culture rather than the traditional “McKinsey & Company” dress that almost ended up characterizes the entire UN system.

The UN plays a tremendous and vital role everywhere it operates but it is also known for its complex, often opaque working structures, and an inclination to be not exactly what the concept of “value for money” implies.

In short, bureaucracy and red tape can distort and diminish the important work being done globally and UNV could become a trend setter within the wider UN community for a much more dynamic working culture.

The upcoming launch of the State of the World’s Volunteerism Report will be another important milestone for UNV. With it, we will have even a more comprehensive understanding on what volunteering could help achieve if strengthened and embraced worldwide. UNV is a force for good within the international development community.

Still its potential is untapped and in order to do so, we need a bolder, more creative and fast agency, one that can be set the standards for a more effective development system.

Simone Galimberti is a Co-Founder of ENGAGE, a not-for-profit NGO in Nepal. He writes on volunteerism, social inclusion, youth development and regional integration as an engine to improve people’s lives.


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