News 2013

Sunlabob CEO speaks at UN “Expert Group Meeting” to discuss improving affordability of Asia-Pacific region’s sustainable energy options

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Andy Schroeter, co-founder and CEO of Sunlabob, this week participated in an Expert Group Meeting hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) to help identify and adapt successful models for increasing the affordability of sustainable energy and alternate housing materials in the Asia-Pacific region. Schroeter joined other energy and international development experts from the private and public sectors and academic community to discuss which policy, business and technology approaches have been most effective and can be replicated elsewhere throughout the region.

“Merging the insight of on-the-ground clean energy providers, like Sunlabob, with the knowledge of experts from policy and academia circles is a critical step in accelerating the growth and impact of sustainable energy throughout the Asia-Pacific region,” said Schroeter, who holds more than 15 years of experience in creating innovative models for village-based energy micro-enterprises.

Schroeter spoke to the group – which included a live video feed with experts in Suva, Fiji – about the growth of Sunlabob as a social enterprise and the lessons learned through its transitions from a three person, Laos-based company in 2001 to a more than 40 person, internationally-focused operation today. Schroeter also highlighted necessary elements for achieving more effective rural electrification initiatives, such as reducing the knowledge gap that often exists between donor agencies and on-the-ground implementers.

“Stimulating the development of clean energy in poor, rural areas in a way that is sustainable – technically, economically and socially – is a challenge that requires the input and participation of many parties,” said Schroeter, who stressed that public-private partnerships have proven to be the most viable and replicable approach to long-term, self-sustaining energy access.

Sunlabob, which specializes in creating village enterprises through renewable energy and clean water access projects, has taken its years of on-the-ground experience in Southeast Asia to other developing countries such as India, Mozambique, Afghanistan and the Marshall Islands.

Speaking from the perspective of Sunlabob, a social enterprise with experience in dozens of different developing markets, Schroeter specifically detailed the following as critical elements of making sustainable energy more affordable and viable in the Asia-Pacific region:

  • Increased advocacy for market-by-market policy support to encourage clean energy development;
  • Removal or reduction of trade regulation and tax barriers in many developing markets;
  • Better access to project finance from development banks; and
  • Increased resources for capacity building and mentorship available to small business.

UNESCAP is partnering with its regional institution, the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT) to evaluate the outcomes of this week’s Expert Group Meeting to prepare a regional assessment report to aid in the replication of the successful business, technology and policy models identified during the discussions.