In the first major utility transaction of the W+ standard, ACWA Power and ECOHZ seek to support women and communities surrounding Morocco’s Noor Power Plant.
Rabat – ACWA Power, a water desalination and power generation company, is working together with ECOHZ, a promoter of renewable energy, to empower Moroccan women around the Noor Power Plant in Ouarzazate, Morocco.
The Noor Power Plant, run by ACWA Power, is the world’s largest concentrated solar power farm. ACWA Power aims to develop the communities and support the women around the plant as a corporate social responsibility project. ACWA commissioned WOCAN to carry out the W+ standard.
Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management, WOCAN, developed the W+ standard, which according to the organization, “quantifies and monetizes the social capital created by women, to recognize and reward their contributions to sustainable environments and communities.”
The standard is a quantifiable measurement of UN sustainable development goal five: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
WOCAN’s W+ standard accounts for time, income and assets, health, leadership, education and knowledge, and food security in order to produce quantified women-benefit units. With the CSR project, WOCAN will focus specifically on income, assets, knowledge, and leadership.
“Engaging and empowering women in project communities will create better project outcomes and improve lives. WOCAN is excited to collaborate with ACWA Power and ECOHZ and enable credible, measurable social co-benefits in renewable energy projects,” said Jeannette Gurung, executive director of WOCAN.
David Ungar, the executive director of greenhouse gas mitigation and sustainability at ACWA Power, stated, “We are in an era where we are able to have a very direct positive impact in the communities in which we operate. The W+ units help us to achieve our goal to make a measurable difference in-line with the United Nations SDG’s.”
The project, which started in 2013, hopes to aid women through increased income, access to education and healthcare, employability efforts, and ultimately recognizing and rewarding women’s contributions to a sustainable future.
In targeted communities, ACWA Power has developed agricultural and handicraft cooperatives, as well as implemented training in livestock and handicraft activities. The CSR project will be implemented throughout the plant’s operation, until 2043.
“Our commitment in countries we operate in extends beyond supplying electricity to the grid. We are passionate about our model of developing plants in remote areas and actively collaborating with the local communities,” said Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of ACWA Power. “We are proud to be working with W+ to contribute towards increasing income and employability.”
The collaboration between ACWA Power, ECOHZ, and WOCAN hopes to work towards UN SDGs five and seven. The fifth SDG promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment. The seventh SDG calls for affordable and clean energy, focusing on renewable energy.
Tom Lindberg, the managing director at ECOHZ, added, “We work to change corporations’ energy behavior and are enthusiastic to be able to empower women at the same time—contribute to both SDG seven and SDG five.”
In the MENA region, only 29 percent of clean energy companies claim to have gender equality in their employment. The project supports the need to increase representation of women in the energy sector, starting in Morocco. When companies purchase renewable energy, they will be contributing to women’s empowerment at the same time.