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IBM Collaborates to Accelerate Clean Energy Transition for Vulnerable Populations Around the World

The second cohort of the IBM Sustainability Accelerator comprises five organizations helping marginalized communities get just and equitable access to sustainable energy resources around the world.

IBM has announced the new members of the IBM Sustainability Accelerator — its global, pro bono, social impact program that applies IBM technologies and an ecosystem of experts to enhance and scale projects focused on populations vulnerable to environmental threats, including climate change. All new members will focus on accelerating clean energy projects.

According to the International Energy Agency, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, disruptions to global supply chains, and diversion of fiscal resources to keep food and fuel prices affordable have affected the pace of progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7) of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030.

"With the IBM Sustainability Accelerator, we are convening experts and using innovative technologies to help tackle the toughest environmental challenges our planet faces; and transitioning to clean energy is a critical step right now," said Justina Nixon-Saintil, VP of Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG at IBM. "With this new cohort, helping marginalized communities get just and equitable access to sustainable energy resources not only helps the world achieve SDG7, but can help in the larger global energy transition."

After evaluating more than 100 submissions from around the world, IBM selected these organizations to become the clean energy cohort of the program:

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    United Nations Development Programme UNDP is working with IBM to increase access to sustainable, affordable and reliable energy in African countries, focusing on those furthest left behind. The goal is to forecast electricity access and develop a clean electricity equity index to better guide policy and investment decisions, using UNDP’s technical knowledge and IBM’s AI and geospatial analytics.

  2. Sustainable Energy for All IBM is working with Vienna-based nonprofit Sustainable Energy for All to build an intelligent model to project energy needs based on current and future human activity. This model will be designed to help to address key development challenges (e.g., lack of energy access and poor healthcare) and support the development of robust infrastructure planning, such as electrification plans. IBM machine learning and Cloud technology and expertise will be used to build and scale open-access datasets and an energy-needs model using temporal and spatial data. Kenya and India are being explored as the first regions to pilot the model.

  3. Net Zero Atlantic Net Zero Atlantic is collaborating with IBM to create an interactive digital tool that will geospatially display environmental and socioeconomic impacts of possible energy system futures for Nova Scotia. Ultimately, the goal is for Indigenous communities in Nova Scotia to leverage advanced modeling capabilities to inform their input into energy and development planning. The tool aims to be easy-to-use, locally relevant and time efficient. It will be designed to produce easy-to-understand visual results using IBM technology such as the IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite and IBM Cloud.

  4. Miyakojima City Government The Miyakojima City Government is working with IBM to support the development of a renewable energy strategy including a microgrid on Miyakojima Island — a distant community facing severe climate issues due to typhoons in Japan — with the goal of helping their residents, who rely on a clean local environment for tourism and agriculture. Miyakojima City Government and IBM will collaborate to leverage technologies such as IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite weather data and IBM Cloud to model electricity demand and advise energy infrastructure development.

  5. Environment Without Borders Foundation Environment Without Borders Foundation’s collaboration with IBM will be aimed at developing a platform to forecast, track and communicate clean energy usage options in Egypt. The goal is to enable resilient and sustainable infrastructure and operations for clean energy in Egypt, helping residents of remote villages for whom energy is currently both expensive and unreliable. The clean energy management platform will leverage IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite and IBM Cloud.

Launched in February 2022, the IBM Sustainability Accelerator is a social impact program that addresses multiple environmental threats around the world each year. The accelerator selects 5 projects to scale solutions that benefit communities that face challenges such as climate change, pollution, extreme weather and more. The program currently has two active cohorts; the first one is focused on sustainable agriculture and the second on clean energy.

The selection process considered the applicant’s commitment to support communities who are especially vulnerable to environmental threats, its ability to increase access to affordable clean energy services, its strategic focus and transparency on measurement and reporting, among others. IBM plans to select five organizations for this program each year and expects to provide $30 million worth of services by the end of 2023.