The Clinton Initiative has worked on a staggering array of human rights issues -- famine, healthcare, education. But when asked during the Q&A what he would do if he had to choose just one project, Clinton pointed to renewable energy in the developing world.
The reason, as was also expressed by Bob Freling in my interview with him on the Solar Electric Light Fund, is that without energy you don't have the economic driver than can then stimulate investments in healthcare and education.
He gave a small but important example. In one project in Ethiopia, the Clinton Initiative electrified an entire village using solar panels. The one-room school was then equipped with two fluorescent lights to provide diffuse light for women to work during the night, while two LED task lights gave children the ability to do their studies after their daytime chores were complete.
Clinton explained that there is a direct correlation between access to education and the lowering of birth rates, a key to solving climate change long-term. And even basic access to electricity can kick-start a flow of funding for other development projects. As he says:
I am convinced that if we do this energy thing right, it will generate not only enormous numbers of new jobs and economic prosperity for countries at every income level. It will also cause people to re-imagine how they do everything. And therefore the funds will flow naturally to healthcare and … a demand for higher levels of education. Work is the best social program, and I think as it happens saving the planet from the threat of climate change will create more work, more jobs, more ideas and more positive interdependence than anything else we can do.
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