The United Nations Global Climate Action Awards fronted by UN Climate Change’s Momentum for Change initiative showcases, “some of the most practical and replicable examples of what people across the globe are doing to address climate change”. In the year 2020, an organization from India was amongst the 13 groundbreaking initiatives from more than 20 nations around the globe, which have been announced as this year’s winners. According to the UNFCCC, this year’s award-winning projects exemplified astute leadership on climate change by nations, businesses, investors, cities, regions and civil societies and communities.
The Global Himalayan expedition (GHE) is an Indian outfit that leverages tourism and technology to provide solar powered energy to remote communities. According to a statement on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website, it is one of the world’s first outfits to undertake such a project. Their efforts were recognized by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
More than 16 million people in the Hind Kush Himalayan region do not have access to basic energy, owing to the difficult terrains and remoteness of the area. GHE conducts expeditions to remote villages in the Himalayan region and then funds the capital cost of the procurement of hardware, transportation, installation and training of village-scale solar micro-grids by utilizing a portion of the expedition fee. This solar grid infrastructure is owned and further operated by the community itself. Till date, the GHE has help to provide solar energy to more than 131 villages in 3 different Indian regions, thereby impacting the lives of more than 60,000 villagers. Since its inception, 1300 travelers from more than 60 countries around the globe have been a part of these expeditions, generating more than USD 114000 in income for the villagers. This also signifies a 45 percent in the annual household income.
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres whilst congratulating the awardees remarked that they provide a tangible example that action to tackle climate change is being taken up throughout the globe. “It is exciting to see these climate solutions, which reinforce my call for decisive leadership on climate change by governments, businesses and cities, and for a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us keep pressing ahead to build a more sustainable and equitable future for all,” he said.
The announcement of the coveted award is part of a broader extensive effort to set in motion action and aspiration within the folds of national governments towards successfully implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.