Today Sigora’s Vice President of Operations Drew Lebowitz participated in a panel discussion on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, at the 3rd Annual Haiti Funders Forum hosted by the Haiti Development Institute, FOKAL, and the State University of New York (SUNY) at the SUNY Global Center in New York City.
The conference aimed to encourage increased collaboration and coordination in philanthropy to Haiti by using the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a platform for conversations to take place. The SDG7 panel convened leaders in philanthropy, nonprofits, and business to frame the key challenges around providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy in Haiti. Panelists included Leslie Cordes, Senior Director Strategic Partnerships, Energy and Climate UN Foundation, Rachel McManus, Executive Director, EarthSpark, and Sandra Sandra Kwak, CEO & Founder 10Power.
Panelists discussed new innovative green solutions to Haiti’s energy crisis and how donors can work to help provide safe energy throughout Haiti.
Electricity in Haiti
In Haiti, only about 37.9% of the population has access to regular electricity; of these consumers half are connected to the electrical grid illegally. The 2010 earthquake only further destroyed the already fledging energy sector. The national power utility, Electricité d’Haïti operates one primary grid serving the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and a small number of isolated power grids for the rest of the country. Even for those with access to electricity, reliability is inconsistent. For example in Port-au-Prince, users only have an average of 10 hours of service per day. This lack of reliability requires many businesses and households to install costly, inefficient, and environmentally unfriendly diesel generators.
This lack of access to affordable and reliable power not only hinders investment and constrains the development of productive businesses, but also degrades the environment and decreases health and living standards for all Haitians. Reliance on inefficient cookstoves and wood charcoal leads to environmental degradation including deforestation, air pollution, and increases the impact of climate change. Furthermore, daily exposure to the toxicities from wood charcoal or kerosene leads to devastating health problems like pneumonia, lung cancer, chronic pulmonary disease, and heart disease to name a few. In short, the need for reliable and affordable energy is crucial for sustainable development.
About the Conference
For too long, aid has generally failed in Haiti. Too few of the projects implemented have had lasting impact and Haiti continues to suffer from crippling social inequities and disparities such as inadequate nutrition, violence against women, human trafficking, poor quality of education, and limited economic growth. For inclusive and sustained growth to materialize in Haiti, donors and investors must become more strategic. Often as funders and investors we have segmented our grant making strategy into separate sectors like education, health, human rights, and economic development. Yet, to truly make an impact on development and poverty an integrated and systems-based approach is needed for sustained change over time. Achieving universal education will entail providing accessible healthcare for healthy children, so they do not fall behind in school. It involves ensuring equal opportunity for women and girls, as well as increased incomes for families to be able to send their children to school. This is merely one example of why as funders we must think and act more strategically to move the needle on poverty and development. Furthermore, the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew illuminates the need for sustained investment overtime. As Haitian communities begin to rebuild their lives, we must think about not only supplying immediate humanitarian assistance, but also how can we empower Haitian communities to rebuild for long-term sustainability. By coordinating our efforts and creating collaborative partnerships, we can build the foundation for sustainable and equitable development in Haiti.
The Haiti Funders Conference provides a forum for funders to learn from other funders, hear from local experts, and discuss effective practices, as well as systemic challenges and opportunities in supporting innovative approaches and initiatives throughout the country. To meet the largest development challenges across sector, a collaborative approach is necessary to ensure sustainable and equitable growth and development in Haiti. Men Anpil, Chay Pa Lou! Many hands make the load light. The SDGs recognize that a successful sustainable development agenda requires inclusive multi-stakeholder partnerships between government, the private sector, philanthropy, and civil society. Therefore, it is imperative that we work in tandem to build a stronger, more resilient Haiti together.
About the Haiti Development Institute
The Haiti Development Institute (HDI) is a legacy of the Haiti Fund, a five-year fund founded at the Boston Foundation following the devastating 2010 earthquake. We work to build sustainable communities by supporting local leaders, strengthening organizations, and connecting the nonprofit, philanthropic and social enterprise sectors, to achieve transformative systemic impact.
Generally, traditional philanthropy and aid have been unsuccessful in creating long-term change in Haiti. This is primarily due to a lack of funding to Haitian businesses and organizations, coupled with limited transparency and accountability; severely weakening the capacity of Haitian civil society to address the endemic issues inhibiting sustainable growth. It is evident that change is needed to improve the efficacy and efficiency of philanthropy to be able to move the needle on poverty, health, education and other social issues.
The Haiti Development Institute will correct these issues by leveraging the power of participant based philanthropy that is aligned with public priorities to enhance the capacity and skills of Haitian Civil Society organizations. By increasing the capacity of Haitian civil society and the efficacy of philanthropic capital, HDI can help move the needle on vital issues such as poverty, health, and education in Haiti.
The Haiti Development Institute will build off of the lessons learned through the Haiti Fund to achieve long-term sustainable impact in Haiti. To accomplish this systemic impact we are targeting our interventions to seek to accomplish three goals:
- Support the growth, development and performance of grassroots and community-based organizations.
- Enhance the development of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.
- Foster sustainable collaborative partnerships for increased scalable impact.
To learn more, visit: http://www.hdihaiti.org/