Access to energy and digital technologies ‘are basic human rights’

That’s the belief of Patricia Benchenna, Director of Corporate Philanthropy at Schneider Electric, who spoke as part of a panel debate at the company’s Innovation Summit in Barcelona

Pathway to COP26 report

Access to energy and digital technologies are basic human rights.

That’s the belief of Patricia Benchenna, Director of Corporate Philanthropy at Schneider Electric, who spoke as part of a panel debate at the company’s Innovation Summit in Barcelona.

The panel focused on the issue of how to make energy visible to all and how to ensure a just and equitable transition to a low carbon power system – Cecilia Foronda, Manager of Energy and People at ECODES, said it is vitally important to clean up the global energy supply but stressed the energy transition must be focused around people, who she said need to be given more knowledge to make the shift from under-engaged consumers to informed prosumers.

She suggested digitalisation is the best way to do this and predicted it will be able to tackle some of the sector’s biggest challenges, such as slashing the rate of energy poverty.

Ms Foronda noted many technological tools are already available but people need to increasingly use them.

She said: “It’s not a question of how to invent the wheel everyday, it’s a question of sharing that knowledge with everybody.”

Marilyn Smith, Executive Director of the Energy Action Project, highlighted that digitalisation opens up potential for greater communication with energy users and said this can allow developing countries to stop spending their time dealing with crisis management and instead work towards the future.

She added people in developing countries have to consider the issue of energy very frequently compared to consumers in the western world as they often have to think in novel ways about how to cook their dinner or light their home with limited access to power – Ms Smith said this means they are particularly open to learning better energy habits and adopting new practices.

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