CEO and Chairperson, NIO
Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, UN Environment Programme
For Annette Wallgren, shifting South and Southeast Asia’s energy dependence from fossil fuels and to renewable energy is not just about tackling climate change at the macro level – it is also a way to change the lives of many millions of women In the region.
As part of her role at the UN Environmental Programme, Bangkok-based Wallgren encourages governments to redirect fossil-fuel subsidies into renewables, in particular distributed renewable energy investments managed and used by women.
“Large-scale renewable energy sources are an obvious choice for climate investments,” Wallgren told Business Insider. “But in investing in distributed renewable energy there is an opportunity to bring reliable energy to the last-mile user in a way that large-scale sources cannot.”
Projects are already affecting women in the region. In Vietnam, for example, UNEP worked with a female entrepreneur who started a biogas-digester business that uses waste from pigs and converts into combustible methane gas that can be used by local households for cooking and other needs.
“When women entrepreneurs can use renewable energy technologies to augment their incomes, they are better off and their communities become more resilient to climate change and disasters," Wallgren says.