Example initiative - The Converging World

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The Converging World (TCW) is a UK based charity set up in 2007 by John Pontin & Ian Roderick which seeks donations from communities and individuals in the developed world to invest in verified renewable energy projects in developing countries. Profits made from these investments are channelled into initiatives that fund clean, sustainable and low carbon economic development.

Context: The Perceived Problem

The primary issue which is addressed by the initiative is that human development in some regions is being hindered by socio-economic problems driven by a lack of equity between nations and individuals. The Converging World explicitly seeks to alleviate such socio-economic development problems (such as access to energy, to education and to social justice) through creating mechanisms which link communities in the developed and developing world.

Initiative Solution and Process

TCW works with three simple principles:

  • Implement more renewable energy e.g. support the building of wind farms in India
  • Support communities to adapt to climate change 25% of the net power revenue from projects is donated to the community in the host country to support climate change adaptation and sustainable development projects that help to break the poverty cycle.
  • Reduce CO2 emissions

TCW works in the UK to raise awareness about the current day impacts of climate change and helps people lower their own emissions. Donations and other support are provided by organisations in the UK actively engaged in reducing their carbon footprints and other environmental impacts. These organisations reduce their emissions and make donations to TCW. These funds are channelled into clean energy projects in the developing world, and any profit that is derived from these projects is re-invested in further similar initiatives. This re-allocation of funds from richer to poorer countries helps to facilitate access to energy and to break the cycle of impoverishment.

Contraction and Convergence Elements

Contraction:

The explicit focus on reducing emissions in developed countries and providing access to green sources of energy in developing countries shows the focus of the initiative on contracting the carbon footprints of developed nations and greening the carbon footprint of developing nations. The CONVERGE project understands that ‘equity within planetary limits’ requires a decrease in the environmental footprints of some citizens and corresponding growth of others, in the most sustainable way possible.

Convergence:

The Converging World explicitly supports the idea of ‘convergence’: "Convergence is the name for the many different processes that aim for equal shares of our natural resources well within the limits of what the planet can support, and for equal rights to the services and institutions that we create within our complex societies". TCW thus has an explicit focus on increasing social equity (in practice, empowerment through access to environmentally-friendly energy sources of energy) as a means of promoting a more sustainable mode of development. Through awareness raising of their work in the developing world and soliciting donations from businesses and individuals in the UK, they contribute to closing the equity gap.

Current Status The Converging World currently operates two turbines in Tamil Nadu, which together will produce over 8 million units (kilowatt hours) of electricity every year which is sold into the regional electricity grid. TCW is working towards replicating this scale of project elsewhere in India and also in Africa and South America.

Further reading about The Converging World

John Pontin and Ian Roderick (2007). Converging World - Connecting Communities in Global Change. Schumacher Briefing Series, The Schumacher Society. http://www.theconvergingworld.org/