The Rexel Foundation discusses the critical role played by social innovation in driving energy progress in the 3rd webinar in a series hosted by the UN Foundation


10 October 2016

In the third webinar in a series hosted by the United Nations Foundation's Energy Access Practitioner Network in partnership with the Rexel Foundation and the Clean Energy Solutions Center, on the topic of energy efficiency for energy access, leading experts focused on the critical role played by social innovation in driving energy progress.

Four specialists discussed the issue:

  • Reid Detchon, Vice President for Energy & Climate Strategy, United Nations Foundation
  • Pascale Giet, Rexel Foundation Vice-Chairman and Rexel Group Senior Vice President for Communications, Sustainability and Social Impact
  • Thomas Thivillon, Head of the Energy Unit of French NGO Entrepreneurs du Monde
  • Richard Caperton, Director of National Policy and Partnerships at Oracle, which acquired Opower

One of the Energy Access Practitioner Network’s goals is to provide a platform to convene a range of stakeholders around new partnerships

Reid Detchon said: “Working with like-minded organisations such as the Rexel Foundation, we can raise awareness and support for social entrepreneurs to deliver effective, efficient and cleaner energy solutions while responding to the climate challenge.”


Social innovation is by definition critical in the energy field

Pascale Giet said: “Social innovation in the ‘energy’ context is about providing reliable access to clean energy for the estimated 1.2bn people in the world today that are cut off from the grid or for the even greater number – some 2.7bn people – who have to rely on solid biomass and inefficient stoves to cook and heat their homes. The Rexel Foundation is working hand-in-hand with social entrepreneurs to provide them with the tools and funding they need in order to put in place sustainable solutions that empower local communities and will help them to secure access to efficient and clean energy for generations to come.”

Pascale Giet used the webinar to introduce listeners to 3 social innovation projects that are being sponsored by the Rexel Foundation:

  • Life Project 4 Youth, an organization dedicated to the integration of young adults living in extreme poverty, is working with the Rexel Foundation on a project which involves the creation of a center managed by young local women in the slums of Tondo (near Manila, Philippines), which rents affordable solar lanterns to people living without access to electricity,
  • The Rexel Foundation also supports SunSawang, a social venture from Thai foundation BGET, which targets poor communities in the Tak and Mae Hong Son provinces of Northern Thailand, providing training and recruitment of local technicians for the installation of solar products and services to provide clean and affordable energy and reduce lighting expenses by 80%.
  • The Rexel Foundation is also supporting the development of the StovePlus Academy initiative from not-for-profit GERES in the Philippines. The StovePlus Academy aims to train and encourage networking between entrepreneurs and energy program implementers, in the field of energy efficient and clean cooking devices.


Access to energy via Social Innovation is essential to the economic integration of the poorest households

Thomas Thivillon said: “Access to energy is at the core of our mission. In the communities we are supporting, energy needs account for a quarter of a household’s expenditure. Two individuals out of three don’t have access to the grid. Household air pollution is among the top factors of disease and death. That is why we are focusing on fast-to-implement off-grid technologies that can address the needs of the energy poor immediately.”

People’s awareness of energy and their consumption behavior is heavily influenced by what their neighbors are doing

Utilities which utilize energy bahaviour programs see a greater increase in energy savings among their customers.

Richard Caperton said: “People care about what other people are doing. This is the main leverage of our product: a data report showing, among other statistics, how your energy consumption compares to that of your neighbors.”


Find out more:

Listen to the recording of the webinar on the Clean Energy Solutions Center website
Discover our infographic: “Why Do We Need Social Innovation in Energy?”
Read our ‘Point of view’: “Social Innovation in Energy Access and Energy Efficiency”

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