In Smart Villages access to sustainable energy services acts as a catalyst for development – enabling the provision of good education and healthcare, access to clean water, sanitation and nutrition, the growth of productive enterprises to boost incomes, and enhanced security, gender equality and democratic engagement.
Unfortunately it is a fact that, in the world today, 1.3 billion people remain without access to electricity. In addition, 3 billion are still cooking on dangerous and inefficient stoves. Many of them live in remote rural village communities. Until such communities have access to modern energy services, little progress can be made to develop their economies and improve their lives.
The Smart Villages Programme
The Smart Villages Initiative worked in each of six regions across the world to bring together the diverse set of players, providing an open and stimulating environment conducive to generating new insights into how to tackle the challenges of village energy access for development. In each region we then followed-up with complementary activities include briefing meetings for policy makers, innovation competitions to generate new ideas, training courses, policy advice and further workshops focusing on specific regional and global prioty issues. Final events in the regions drew together lessons learned in conjunction with policy makers, donors and development agencies, and considered next steps.
The Way Forward
Following the successful conclusion of this first phase of activities, the Smart Villages Initiative intends to take forward their findings, and leverage the unique global base of knowledge and network that we have assembled, to pursue the linked goals of universal energy access and rural development. Working through a newly established non-profit company – Smart Villages Research Group ltd – we intend to focus on:
- Facilitating the establishment, in partnership, of pilot “Smart Villages” around the world to act as examples of the concept and provide a base for demonstrating the sustainable impact of this holistic and sustainable rural development approach.
- Working with research partners around the world to evidence the impact of the holistic “Smart Villages” development model, through baseline studies and long-term impact assessment across multiple development metrics, across multiple SDGs.
- Developing and testing innovative technologies that can help deliver some of these integrated development objectives – for example innovative agricultural technology, cold storage, ICT access, remote education and telemedicine.
- Provide consulting and advisory services on energy access and holistic models of rural development, harnessing the wealth of information and the experience we have assembled through our global network during the course of the past 5 years.
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