Chilling Prospects 2022: Ashden's Fair Cooling Fund
Reflections on five years of the Kigali Amendment by Ashden
Ashden’s Fair Cooling Fund, made possible by the Clean Cooling Collaborative, has shown how targeted grant funding can drive holistic support for sustainable cooling innovators. In particular, grants can be designed to encourage organizations to reach new communities and end users, laying the foundations for wider cooling access.
Through the fund, Ashden has injected a total of USD 600,000 into seven frontline cooling organizations around the world. Three of these innovators offer access to sustainable cold chain, and four support cooler homes and streets. In 2019 Ashden worked with these partners to co-create sustainable, affordable solutions targeting people in greatest danger from rising temperatures. These initiatives were launched in 2020.
In the co-design phase and beyond, Ashden facilitated peer learning, gave one-on-one support and connected organizations with experts and funders. This has helped organizations and private enterprises sharpen their focus on social impact and improve the lives of end users, particularly the most marginalized.
In some cases, grants have unlocked a business model that would have been impossible for organizations to develop without grant support. This is essential in bringing cooling to financially precarious communities.
Grants have also paved the way for deep engagement with these communities, a process that takes time and careful consideration. In addition, grants allow for more appropriate, inclusive responses to extreme heat.
The Fair Cooling Fund also featured a communications campaign telling the stories of the seven organizations. This led to international media coverage, events at COP26, Climateweek NYC and elsewhere, and a film on the cool homes challenge that was seen more than 100,000 times. Combining such a campaign with a grant-making process brings benefits for participating organizations and wider efforts to raise the profile of cooling among target audiences.
Finally, the initiative has shown the power of grants to unlock further funds. Additional investment of at least USD 1.37 million has been secured thanks to the original Fair Cooling Fund grants.
By 2025, these schemes and many others like them could bring cooling to many millions of people at greatest risk from extreme heat. But it’s vital we see bolder investment from institutional funders and philanthropists, specifically to help public and private innovators reach new markets and communities. This will pave the way for support for specific solutions from mainstream financiers. It’s also crucial we build bridges between the cooling and development sectors – and that we make inclusivity and community ownership key features of all cooling solutions.
The Fair Cooling Fund cohort members
India’s Promethean Power Systems has developed and launched a milk chilling and collection service used by smallholder farmers in remote villages. Village-level collection centres allow farmers to sell into wider supply chains for the first time, reaching new markets and getting a better price. Running the centres has brought new roles and incomes for local women. In 2021 the centres supported 1,200 farmers, raising their incomes by up to 30 percent.
Cohort member Ecozen Solutions also supports farmers. The grant allowed the organization to more deeply understand the needs and aspirations of less wealthy farmers, and to overcome the complex business and engineering challenges that farmers have faced in getting their products to market during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the fund, it developed and launched the EcoFrost Mini, a portable cold storeroom. The unit’s small size, mobility and the fact that it can be leased make it a good option for smallholder farmers and those in remote areas. The first portable storerooms are now operational, increasing incomes by as much as 30 percent.
The Fair Cooling Fund also helped PEG Africa bring 45 fridges and freezers to small businesses in rural Ghana.
The fund’s second focus was cool homes and communities. Consultancy cBalance has engaged deeply with low-income women in the Indian cities of Pune and Bangalore, to co-design affordable and sustainable solutions for cool homes. These draw on innovative roofing materials, ventilation and shading. Local engineering and architecture students have been heavily involved in this process – part of cBalance’s bid to ensure the voices of disadvantaged communities are heard by city makers, now and in the future.
Those benefitting include Mangal Sanjay Shinde, a tailor who lives in a 4.5 by 3.7 meter one-room home in Pune. She said: “We used to sit outside the house from 12 pm to about 4 pm due to the unbearable indoor heat. However, we can sit indoors now.”
Between 2016 and 2019 Medellín's Green Corridors Project brought vegetation and green spaces to the Colombian city’s streets, lowering temperatures by an average of 4.5 Celsius, reducing pollution, and boosting jobs and sustainable travel. The fund has allowed the team behind this work — now part of Urban Think Tank Next — to create a business case and resources for taking this approach elsewhere. As a result, a pilot scheme has begun in the city of Barranquilla, with further interest in other countries around Latin America and the Caribbean.
In Egypt, the fund allowed the consultancy Econsult to engage with national policymakers and develop new green guidelines that will be central to a massive government programme of rural development, reaching 4,500 villages and small towns. The knowledge Econsult is sharing with stakeholders includes how to design cooler homes and public spaces for all. A grant of just USD 40,000 is set to create national impact.
Finally, Rwandan architecture consultancy MASS Design used its grant to fine-tune building solutions for cool homes that are locally appropriate and develop plans to educate those who build houses about their impact.
The Fair Cooling Fund has given a diverse range of organizations space to iterate and experiment but has always helped those at greatest risk from extreme heat. These communities are being left behind by today’s economies and policy decisions; the fund has shown that sensitive grant making can break through barriers and achieve radical progress.
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