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We Care Solar, was recently declared winner of the first ever US$1 million UN-DESA Energy Grant to enhance and expand the use of its ‘Solar Suitcase’.

By making solar power simple, accessible and affordable, this device allows for the provision of electricity for medical procedures during childbirth in many developing countries, helping to avoid life-threatening complications for mothers and children.

The Solar Suitcase provides off-grid health clinics with solar power for critical obstetric and surgical lighting, mobile phones, fetal heart rate monitors and other essential medical devices. It thereby facilitates timely and appropriate emergency care, reducing maternal and infant morbidity in more than 20 countries in Africa and South Asia. In the last five years, We Care Solar, in close collaboration with local partners, has succeeded in empowering 5,000 health workers in the areas of solar energy utilization, installation and servicing to ensure the Solar Suitcases have a long-lasting impact. With the help of the Grant, We Care Solar will be able to bring the programme to scale, maximize the products’ effectiveness, and build capacity.

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Sustainable energy crucial for achieving development goals

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described sustainable energy as a key priority for the United Nations that connects economic growth, social equity, a stable climate and a healthy environment.

“Energy underpins our efforts to achieve development objectives – from reducing extreme poverty to enhancing food security, from powering essential health services to providing electricity for education,” he said. Despite strenuous efforts by the international community, one person in five still lacks access to electricity; more than a third of humanity relies on wood, charcoal, animal and crop waste for cooking and heating; and some 4 million people die each year from the effects of indoor air pollutants. The Secretary-General commended the event as going beyond a symbolic ceremony and as celebrating the initiatives and actions of all 12 selected grant applicants.

UN-DESA Grant a unique undertaking

The President of the 69th session of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, sees in the Grant “an opportunity to show the world the best examples that demonstrate how science, technology and innovation can be put into practice to induce change and to transform the world”. He also noted that the Grant is a unique undertaking that focuses on and stresses the need for not only innovation and implementation but for capacity building on energy for sustainable development.

The “Powering the Future We Want” initiative

The UN-DESA Energy Grant is a capacity building initiative launched and managed by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), in collaboration with the CEFC, a Hong Kong based NGO in consultative status with ECOSOC. Titled “Powering the Future We Want”, this initiative offers a grant in the amount of one million US dollars to fund capacity development activities in energy for sustainable development. The grant is awarded to an individual, institution or partnership based on past and current achievements in leadership and innovative practices in advancing energy for sustainable development. The initiative will be implemented annually.

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