acciona.org has been selected by the International Labor Organization (ILO) as a role model for high-potential solutions to achieve a fair transition to a decarbonized economy worldwide.
The Light at Home Ngäbe-Buglé program was one of three winners of the Innovation Challenge launched by the ILO, as part of its mandate to lead the United Nations (UN) Climate Action for Jobs (CA4J) initiative. The goal of the Challenge is to identify and promote the design and implementation of projects that contribute to a fair energy transition for all and that demonstrate a positive impact on working conditions, employment, entrepreneurship, training and egalitarian participation.
The recognition awarded by the ILO implies its support to a technical assistance to evaluate the impact of the access to the electricity service provided by Luz en Casa Ngäbe-Buglé, especially the impact on the employment and the economic development, to propose recommendations to maximize those impacts. They will also collaborate on training and raising awareness regarding the ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (C169). The acciona.org model will become part of the case studies for the ILO's Just Transition Innovation Center.
INDIGENOUS AND TRIBAL PEOPLES
In Panama, acciona.org carries out its development cooperation activities in indigenous communities in the Ngäbe-Buglé region, combining progress with the preservation of the rights and idiosyncrasies of the various ethnic groups. This indigenous region of Panama is the most impoverished area of the country, with the least access to basic social services and the lowest electrification rate, below 5%.
PROMOTE ECONOMIC GROWTH
acciona.org gets local communities involved in the design, implementation and management of the service, including training and agreements with local entrepreneurs to generate an ecosystem to support development and boost the local economy.
Small local enterprises host in their premises the supply and service centers, known as Light at Home Centers, where the beneficiaries come to receive advice and technical support, as well as to pay the service fees. These fees entail savings compared to the energy costs of the fossil fuels and batteries previously used there, and guarantee the continuity of the service over time.
Likewise, other businesses in the area improve their productive activities by having more hours of light per day and therefore extending their opening times, apart from having the possibility of connecting small household appliances that allow them to increase their sales.
The Light at Home initiative, which began its implementation in Panama in 2017, has benefited close to 18,000 people with access to sustainable electricity in the Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous region, in cooperation with the communities of beneficiaries. More than 3,000 households have improved their living conditions thanks to access to electricity through residential photovoltaic systems.
This renewable energy-based model offers more benefits to users at a lower cost. The replacement of fossil fuels and batteries avoids around 300 tonnes of CO2 emissions and the uncontrolled disposal of about 20 tonnes of batteries annually, while reducing the risk of fires and health problems due to household air pollution.
The program has already received the Energy Transition award in 2022 from Panama's Secretary of State for Energy, in the category of Universal Access to Energy.