A campaign to end energy poverty could mobilise US$200 million by 2020 with the help of a diverse set of faith groups.
The campaign, Shine, will use the aid of a diverse range of religious organisations to help fill existing finance gaps and add momentum to a push for universal energy access.
Lisa Jordan, Shine’s director, said faith-based activism together with institutional investor support would bring “very strong voices of advocacy” to the project.
“We need an enabling environment in order for that capital to be used for productive purpose. That enabling environment includes advocacy to educate decision-makers about the opportunity for distributed solutions, and to remove many of the barriers that exist within the field,” she added.
Less than one percent of the US$2 trillion currently invested in the energy sector serves the energy poor, according to Jordan. Shine will work to identify investment opportunities for impact investors and “accompany those partners in their journey to learn about access to energy” to unlock what Jordan called the “missing middle” of the capital spectrum.
Because energy is an enabler for economic empowerment, Shine is working to bring new partners into energy access from traditionally humanitarian fields.
“Shine has friends and partners from the Hindi communities, from the Islamic communities, from the Christian communities and from the Jewish community, so we are really ecumenical in that sense,” Jordan said.
Shine has already secured US$100 million of commitments and plans to at least double that total by 2020 to strengthen social enterprises and viable businesses that demonstrate scalable solutions. Jordan however cautioned that many supporters remain largely unaware of new distributed technologies that quickly and easily reach more than a billion people still living without access to electricity.
With a combined 1.6 billion followers, the Catholic Church and the World Evangelical Alliance are located in many of the same countries Shine targets, particularly where access to energy presents a barrier.
Pope Francis has spoken out in recent years in support of both climate action and social justice, and growing numbers in the faith community are showing similar support for environmental and social goals.