2.8 billion people worldwide (39 out of every 100 people) still rely on burning solid fuels for their everyday basic energy needs. Even with urbanisation, the science and demographics are clear: for at least another decade (way beyond the 2030 target for the UN’s sustainable development goals) at least 2 billion people will still rely on burning biomass for their daily cooking needs. In countries like Malawi, where 10% of the population have access to the electric grid and only about 2% predominantly cook with electricity, smoke inhalation from household air pollution is the single biggest health risk for Malawians, yet investment in making cooking cleaner gets less than 1% of the funding for TB, HIV-Aids and Malaria put together.

Given the situation, it is no wonder that the Goal 7 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals concurrently aims to “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” with a specific indicator for cooking energy for the “Proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology”. And although the goal is crucial, the people most affected by this issue need to be heard in order for a truly sustainable solution to be reached.

Mainstream clean energy sources, such as electric and gas cookers, are not readily accessible to the 40% of the population that still relies on solid fuel, but they are often what comes to mind of decision-makers in the global arena, while more attainable solutions, such as cleaner cooking with high-efficiency clay stoves and better firewood management, accessible to ultra-poor and labour constrained households, get set aside.

This is why the Cleaner Cooking Coalition (CCC) was created. The CCC is driven by a single goal; to make sustainable cooking energy accessible for all – Leaving No-one Behind. It is headed up by Dr Omar Masera of the National University of Mexico a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate on behalf of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change; Dr Priya Karve a guru on intermediate technology and winner of numerous awards including the World Technology Award and Christa Roth a ‘hands-on pragmatist, instrumental in the development of simple, highly successful ‘stepping stone’ technologies in Malawi and elsewhere in Africa. Malawi’s Resident to the UN, Dr Perks Ligoya a former Senior Economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is currently the UN Global Chair of Least Developed Countries (representing 46 countries and about 1 billion people) is also very supportive and driven to put Cleaner Cooking at the top of the agenda for climate finance investment in LDCs for the next 10 years.

The CCC’s long-term vision is sustainable and carbon-neutral cooking for all by 2050, which includes the broad spectrum of fuels and technologies, practices and social innovation.

In 2020 they organised the nomination of Malawi as Global Champion of Energy for the UN’s High-Level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE) meeting, and a TIE project provided invaluable support for Malawi’s preparations, culminating in the speech by H.E Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, delivered at #HLDE2021 on September 24th 2021.

The CCC intends to build on existing momentum created by the #HLDE2021 and other conferences, such as UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021 and at the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) in Doha in January 2022, to advocate for and deliver sustained investment in cleaner cooking in Malawi.

With further support they can unite businesses, governments, and other organisations to unite behind a common vision to provide access to cleaner, locally appropriate, locally adapted and locally produced fuels and stoves to the 2 billion people who need them, NOW. This TIE project will help the CCC develop a strategy to make their goals possible.