Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet Announces Simon Harford as CEO and Ravi Venkatesan As Board Chair
Marking a significant milestone for the Alliance.
Feb. 28, 2022
Harford and Venkatesan bolster the alliance’s growing leadership team
- Former Actis partner Simon Harford joins Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet as CEO
- UNICEF’s Special Representative for Young People & Innovation Ravi Venkatesan joins as Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet Board Chair
LONDON | February 28, 2022 – The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) announced that Simon Harford will join as its inaugural Chief Executive Officer and UNICEF’s Ravi Venkatesan will serve as Board Chair. These key leadership appointments mark a significant milestone for the Alliance, which was launched during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November with USD10 billion to accelerate investment in green energy transitions and renewable power solutions in emerging economies worldwide.
With more than 30 years of experience at the intersection of finance, business-building and global development across both emerging and developed markets, Harford comes to the Alliance from Actis, a leading global investor in sustainable energy infrastructure and champion of responsible investing in growth markets, where he served as Senior Adviser and co-head of Africa. Together with Venkatesan, they will provide critical leadership in the Alliance’s quest to unlock USD100 billion in public and private capital over the next decade to reach one billion people with reliable, renewable power; avoid and avert four billion tons of carbon emissions; and create, enable, or support more than 150 million green jobs and drive economic growth.
“The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet is a unique partnership model spanning the public and private sector based on deep support from major philanthropy. I strongly believe in the power of access to energy and the opportunities a cleaner energy sector brings for the environment, society and the economy. I’m conscious of the responsibility to lead the Alliance, and want to thank all who have worked hard to set-up this extraordinary platform and bring it to where it is today,” said new CEO Simon Harford.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to work on the defining challenge of our time,” said Ravi Venkatesan, UNICEF’s Special Representative for Young People and Innovation. “The Alliance will show that a coalition of committed partners and a lot of innovation can make a meaningful reduction in carbon emissions and a big leap in energy access.”
“In November, we launched the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet at COP26 in Glasgow to an extraordinary reception, most consequentially from nations eager to transition their economies to green electricity and connect their people to the jobs and power they need to compete in the 21st century economy.” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Simon is the right leader to realize GEAPP’s potential; he brings the experience, the values and the connections to build on this early momentum and to change energy for good for everyone.”
“Ravi is one of the most passionate and innovative leaders in the world today, as he’s shown over a long, illustrious career,” said Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation. “The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet has an ambitious aim to cut emissions, create jobs and connect people to power. To reach its potential, the Alliance needs leaders like Ravi who inspire and enable impact in the countries where it is most needed. I’m convinced that with Simon as the new CEO and Ravi as the new Board Chair, the Alliance is in a strong position to build the transformative partnerships and programs that can solve some of humanity’s most urgent challenges.”
“The Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet can become the leading platform for supporting decarbonization of power in developing countries and providing access to reliable clean energy, jobs, and economic development,” said Andrew Steer, President & CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. “These two excellent appointments demonstrate the passion and professionalism that GEAPP will bring to the agenda.”
Venkatesan, who is also founder of the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME), a coalition in India which aims to improve enabling conditions for broad-based entrepreneurship and rapid and sustainable growth of the micro, small and medium enterprises that propel the economy and create millions of decent jobs, brings invaluable insights gained over three decades as a leader in the business sector and philanthropic community. Venkatesan previously served as Board chair of the Bank of Baroda, India’s second largest public sector bank, Infosys Ltd., Microsoft India, Cummins India. He is currently a Trustee of The Rockefeller Foundation and Board member of Hitachi Ltd.
In their new roles, Harford and Venkatesan have bolstered the Alliance’s growing leadership team which also includes Clare Boland Ross as Chief Strategy and Program Impact Officer, Sundaa Bridgett-Jones as Chief Partnerships and Advocacy Officer, and Joseph Nganga as Executive Director for Africa.
Focused on distributed renewables, grid-based renewables and fossil fuel transitioning, the Alliance was founded with an initial $1.5 billion in philanthropic commitments by The Rockefeller Foundation, IKEA Foundation and Bezos Earth Fund, alongside billions of dollars in investment capital from multilateral and development finance institutions, as well as country partnerships and “delivery” partners that will provide significant policy, technical, and project development capacity.
Partnering for Impact
Partnerships have been front and center during the Alliance’s first few months, including:
- Issuing a Global Call for Country Partnerships, inviting emerging economies to apply for technical support and funding to implement ecosystems of clean energy projects. This is the first step toward helping countries achieve a more rapid and equitable energy transition, which advances economic progress for all while at the same time mitigating the climate crisis.
- Signing Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and starting to deliver on early transactions with organizations such as the US Development Finance Corporation (USDFC), International Finance Corporation (IFC), the UK’s British International Investment/CDC Group, European Investment Bank (EIB), World Bank Group, African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Together, these partners are mobilizing USD 8.5 billion over the next five years.
- Collaborating with All On and Odyssey for a new USD$10 million global aggregated procurement program for renewable energy companies being piloted in Nigeria; and with the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Sustainable Energy for All to launch the world’s first Integrated Energy Planning Tool, an open-source dataset that will improve renewable energy planning.
- Announcing partnerships with organizations working at the forefront of green energy employment to ensure that women can fully participate in new green jobs in Nigeria, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi.
“Along with building GEAPP into a high-performing organization, it’s my priority to ensure that countries are always in the driver’s seat of designing their own equitable energy future, setting bold climate and access targets, and proposing custom support packages to achieve their vision with the support from GEAPP that they shape. The Call for Country Partnerships and immediate engagement with our 2022 priority markets illustrates our approach. The Alliance is here to support and help collaborate with others to achieve this vision,” Harford added.
Over the coming months, the Alliance will deepen its working relationships with governments across Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean, and is considering a number of projects aimed at repurposing and decommissioning of existing fossil fuel power plants.
Note to editors:
Biography Simon Harford
Simon Harford has served for over 15 years with Actis, a leading global investor in sustainable energy infrastructure and champion of responsible investing. There, Simon led the firm’s business based first in Nigeria then in South Africa, built enduing relationships with governments, and promoted values-based investing with proactive approaches to societal partnerships. He has also served in other key roles in impact venture capital, creating new businesses, advising governments and building social enterprises.
Biography Ravi Venkatesan
Ravi Venkatesan is UNICEF’s Special Representative for Young People & Innovation and the founder of the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME), a coalition which aims to create 10 million local entrepreneurs in India by 2030. Venkatesan previously served as Board chair of the Bank of Baroda, India’s second largest public sector bank, Infosys Ltd., Microsoft India, Cummins India. He is currently a Trustee of The Rockefeller Foundation and Board member of Hitachi Ltd.