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Cheerful Monday - Improved Cookstoves

Project Developer
Why did you decide to launch the project or what/who inspired you?

The Project Developer was motivated to start the project back in 2006, after studying how to make human development sustainable, using innovative financing tools like microfinance and carbon finance. A 12-month feasibility study was focused on socio-anthropological dimensions of introducing a new technology, such as improved cookstoves, in Peru. During this journey, its founder met hundreds of families who still used traditional cooking methods (open fire or three-stone fire) that filled their houses with toxic fumes and required them to spend hours collecting firewood, impeding women and children to dedicate themselves to other activities. He also encountered numerous small cookstove project developers lacking financial support, thus putting at risk the sustainability of their activities (including follow-ups, awareness campaigns, constant monitoring, capacity-building, repair & maintenance to the cookstoves). 
The Project Developer was founded in this context, establishing the Improved Cookstoves Programme with the purpose of allowing project developers in Peru to have access to and benefit from the carbon market so as to move towards achieving universal access to clean energy and reducing inequalities. In addition, access to energy was identified as an issue that allowed us to start addressing other big issues in these rural communities such as reducing poverty, gender equality, improving health conditions, access to education, better food security and access to clean water.

What makes your project different from others?

Our Improved Cookstoves Programme is the first ever registered with the Gold Standard quality label in 2008, the first ever diffusing improved cookstoves, and the first programme also to issue carbon credits. It is a pioneer project, generating lasting impacts since its creation in many communities thanks to a series of sustainability measures that have proven effective over time. Local families participate throughout the project to understand the technology used, providing some local materials and, when possible, by helping build the improved cookstove with the help of an expert and maintaining it over time.
In addition, our project is part of a holistic approach including the installation of dry toilets and the implementation of solutions to give access to drinking water. The articulation and integration of these initiatives allow the projects to be grounded in and adapted to a local context. Born from the analysis of the public policies in effect and the identification of the aspects and gaps where it could make a difference, the project keeps adapting to the national context while aiming at actually meeting the local needs.

What do you like most about the project?

In addition to having tremendous positive impacts on the communities where it is implemented (the programme is certified by the Gold Standard as contributing to reaching 7 Sustainable Development Goals), we love having the cultural insights and traditions shared by our local partners and the communities we work in – this is actually what project approach is all about: different communities around the world learning about the others’ customs and traditions, all working together towards a sustainable world. The Peruvian Andes are home to some of the most ancient and vibrant cultures. These communities have incredible knowledge and strong relationships with nature. We would all benefit from knowing more about them!

What makes you proud of your project?

We are very proud to be the very first project of its kind in Peru and the only specialist in the Latin American region to have such extensive experience and know-how. We are also proud of the fact that we´ve been working with these rural communities since 2008 and expanding our scope of intervention while lasting impacts are ensured; and the support for the project hasn't stopped since!
Today, The project not only helps families adapt to the effects of climate change, it also contributes to the restoration of forests in the Andes, it helps families adopt healthier lifestyles by decreasing indoor pollution, and it allows beneficiaries to dedicate more time to their professional, academic and leisure activities.

What are your objectives for the future of the project?
In 2010, this Improved Cookstoves Programme served as a successful model for the creation, registration and implementation of other programmes in Mexico and Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras). Both of the programmes allowed us to gain valuable experience and know-how on specific subjects such as clean cooking solutions, environmental and social matters on sustainable energy and climate change in the Latin American region. Based upon this knowledge, we developed a consulting activity in these fields of expertise. 
We hope to strengthen both programmes and expand them in their respective frames and scales, particularly through a stronger presence on the voluntary carbon market while maintaining its quality and top-end position.
In the meantime, we hope to continue collaborating with national governments in designing adapted public policies that support the most vulnerable populations and provide adequate frameworks for commercial approaches to reach less vulnerable communities. Microsol is also pioneering funding mechanisms under the Paris agreement (Art. 6 through ITMOs). Both strategies enable diversifying and multiplying the stakeholders involved, and stabilizing, even more, the existing mechanisms, ensuring the self-sustainability of the projects on the long-term.

Do you have any words of wisdom to people entering the market with new environmental projects?
We are facing some of our biggest challenges. But these challenges pale in comparison to what will happen if we don't try to adapt to climate change and live in a more sustainable way. Now is the time to innovate and try new things. Don´t be intimidated or overwhelmed. Start one thing at a time. 

Article written by Project Developer