Green Empowerment was founded by Michael Royce, the son of Henry Ruess; the man who wrote the legislation that created the Peace Corps. Michael founded Green Empowerment over 20 years ago with a vision to create an equitable, sustainable world where everyone has access to clean water and renewable energy. Creating access to renewable energy is important because 1.6 billion people currently don’t have access to electricity and implementing renewable energy is more affordable than extending the existing electrical grid, as well as better for people’s long term health. Providing access to clean water is extremely important because waterborne illnesses are the leading cause of death in the developing world. Green Empowerment is a Portland-based organization whose mission is to work with local partners around the world in order to strengthen communities by delivering renewable energy and safe clean water. Projects are designed, constructed and maintained by the rural communities and regional stakeholders that benefit from them, ensuring long-term economic growth and sustainability in areas mainly focused in South American and Southeast Asian countries.
To ensure Green Empowerment works towards accomplishing goals number 6: sustainable management of water and sanitation, 7: access to modern energy, and 17: global partnerships for sustainable development, of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. By creating networks of regional stakeholders around different technologies such as wind power, hydro-electricity, and biogas, they work towards improving and connecting communities. This is accomplished through coordinated research, conferences and knowledge sharing, participants from universities, NGOs, businesses, governments and professionals to work together to come up with comprehensive plans of action and implementation.
References & resources
Gomez-Llanos, Eva, Pablo Durán-Barroso, Juana Arias-Trujillo, Jose M. Ceballos-Martinez, Jesus A. Torrecilla-Pinero, and Miguel Candel-Perez. 2018. “Small and Micro-Hydropower Plants Location by Using Geographic Information System.” Environment, Green Technology, and Engineering International Conference, October. file:///Users/mru/Downloads/proceedings-02-01300-v2.pdf.
This article goes in detail on Micro-hydropower systems, which was one of Green Empowerment’s most recent projects situated in Amaguaya, Bolivia. The article explains how this system is an alternative energy resource based on the hydroelectric potential available in urban water cycle because of the excess of pressure existing in some urban water supply systems. Green Empowerment took the information on these systems and applied it to issues that were taking place in Bolivia. Their mission is to prepare the most vulnerable communities for climate change, and that’s what they did by implementing these systems.
Graff, Jeremiah. “Empowering a Green Future.” GPSEN, June, 2019.
The organization of Greater Portland Sustainability Education Network (GPSEN), highlights Green Empowerment in a short news article featured on their website. Graff uses the article to dive into the founding and history of Green Empowerment, while emphasising the partnerships they’ve made and goals they’ve strived for throughout the years. The article also highlights how the organization implements smaller projects in local communities, all centered around the UN Sustainable Goals. The article does not go much further in these specific projects, but rather how they got to the point of the partnerships they have made.
Hermawati, Wati, and Ishelina Rosaira. “Key Success Factors of Renewable Energy Projects Implementation in Rural Areas of Indonesia.” STI Policy and Management, 15 Dec. 2017.
This paper goes in detail about renewable energy implementation in rural areas of Indonesia. This study collected data from a variety of sources; the local community(users of renewable energy), the local government, etc. and provides useful insights to all of the stakeholders involved in the implementation of these projects. Similar to Green Empowerment, the Research Center for Science and Technology Development, Indonesian Institute of Sciences is also working on an innovative cook stove to reduce the health risks that come with wood fires.
Melles, Gavin. “Sustainable Community Development or Voluntourism: Sustainable Housing in Rural Maharashtra.” Social Sciences 7, no. 12 (December 2018): 247. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7120247.
Volunteers from the global north traveling to less developed countries to “help” is something we see often, but it is important to closely examine how much good this “volunteerism” is actually doing. This article explores some of the critiques of voluntourism; such as, the commodification of development and poverty. This article uses a case study to look at the gaps between NGO voluntourism and participatory sustainable development. They suggest that international help needs to be carefully evaluated and monitored to ensure that there is complete transparency in money usages, local participation and need.
These thoughts and critiques are important to keep in mind while learning about and working with Green Empowerment. Even though an organization has good intent, they must be held accountable to achieving the positive impact that they promise. Part of the work that Green Empowerment does is powered by volunteers. People like to volunteer abroad because there is a lot to learn from the experience and it makes them feel like they are helping people less fortunate than themselves. Is spending money to send unskilled workers abroad to do jobs that locals could be hired to do the most responsible allocation of funds? Interesting perspective that is worth considering.
Morton, Stephen, David Pencheon, and Neil Squires. 2017. “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Their ImplementationA National Global Framework for Health, Development and Equity Needs a Systems Approach at Every Level.” British Medical Bulletin 124 (1): 81–90.https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldx031.
This article gives a summary and context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). It talks about what worldwie needs are being addressed with the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as some possible points of controversy and critique. One of the main arguments this article makes is the pointing out the interconnectedness of all of the goals. Green Empowerment is an organization that is focused on fulfilling just a few of the SDGs. It is important to evaluate whether or not the work they are doing is addressing the problems in a comprehensive way that is taking into consideration as many aspects of the problem and solutions as possible.
This series of reports, written by Caitlyn Peake, provides details on specific projects Green Empowerment has worked on. The reports focus on updating readers on different milestones that Green Empowerment accomplished. This is important in obtaining an inside view in the work this organization is doing. It is one thing to read a list about the things organizations do, and another to read about the details of their work. These reports provide a source that gives the readers a sense of credibility in the work Green Empowerments.