The Responsible Energy Initiative is a multi-year programme working to ensure renewable energy in Asia achieves its full potential for positive environmental and social outcomes.

Launched on 25th March: Renewable Energy to Responsible Energy: A Call to Action

Download the executive summary 

Download the full report

Watch the recording of the launch event

The Challenge

The rise of renewables brings great promise for our ability to tackle climate change. Scaling renewable energy (RE) is critical to the rapid transition to a low carbon economy. Renewable energy has the potential to expand access to affordable, clean energy; create jobs and help economies to thrive; and reduce air pollution.

This is a critical moment in the development of the sector, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Renewable energy is scaling rapidly; financing models are shifting from public to private; and policy and regulatory mechanisms are changing. Economic stimulus packages are being developed to support recovery from COVID-19. Many recovery packages focus on building the industries we need to ride the shocks of the future, including renewable energy.

At the same time, we are seeing significant risks emerge in the RE industry. As the industry grows, these risks may also grow, and in a way that does not account for environmental, social and human rights impacts. The potential negative impacts of the sector are becoming increasingly clear. From land and labour rights and livelihood challenges to toxic waste and unsustainable use of raw materials.

Building a responsible energy sector

Unless the potential negative social and environmental impacts of RE are addressed, the growth of the sector may be put in jeopardy. An unacceptable outcome from a climate perspective. Equally, poor practices could become in-built into the industry. Consequently, it will be harder for the sector to drive fair and just social transitions to a low carbon future.

How can the sector fully live up to its potential to drive positive social and environmental outcomes? What is the role of investors, developers, manufacturers, large procurers and others in the sector in collectively shaping a just and regenerative future for the sector?

Download the ‘Call to Action’ executive summary

Download the full report

Our solution

The Responsible Energy Initiative (for short) seeks to enable the RE sector in the Asia Pacific region to adopt business models and value chains that are ecologically safe and socially just. We will deliver these outcomes through three futures-led collaborative inquiries - in India and Southeast Asia - between 2020 and 2025.

Many initiatives focus on scaling adoption and accelerating investment. However, they do not look at the whole renewables industry, or enable stakeholders to design solutions together. The Responsible Energy Initiative engages stakeholders across the renewable energy system to work collaboratively. As a result, we will better equip actors to identify a shared view of what, how and where they can intervene to shape a different future.

A Call to Action

The Initiative’s first report, titled Renewable Energy to Responsible Energy: A Call to Action, was launched in March 2021. The report provides an overview of the RE sector in India, analyses the environmental and social risks, and the impacts associated with the production and deployment of renewable energy through select technologies. It also sets out a case for greater and collaborative action to ensure renewable energy is responsible energy. 

  • The Initiative partners are now calling on RE companies, investors, large procurers and other sector stakeholders to come together to collectively ensure the RE sector can truly live up to its potential to drive positive social and environmental outcomes. 
  • Stakeholders are invited to join the Initiative for a two-year programme to better understand the challenges and opportunities, and to set a collective vision for a just and regenerative RE sector in India.

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Responsible Energy Initiative: key objectives and outcomes 

We will bring together renewable energy companies, investors and procurers to:

  • Establish a systemic understanding of the implications of inaction, the barriers to integrating ESG into business models and governance. Also to see the opportunities for shifting mindsets and behaviours such that the sector can accelerate and be a net positive force in achieving a sustainable future. 
  • Identify ways to transform business models, practices (including governance around investment) and the system so that it is set to deliver long-term value for both society and shareholders.
  • Enable pilot interventions that demonstrate a shift in business models, practices and the wider system through:
    a) how the renewable energy industry responds to its environmental and social impacts; and
    b) the wider system, including investors, policy makers, financiers and those procuring renewable energy and incentivising net-positive approaches to ESG. 
  • Support the scaling of approaches that enable the acceleration of renewables across the Asia Pacific region in a fair and just way by curating multi-country learning and insights to share and engage a wider group of renewable energy stakeholders across the region. 

By paying attention to all ESG impacts, the renewables sector in Asia will be better able to secure its license to operate. It will also ensure access to finance, enhancing the ability to accelerate the transition and secure its own resilience.

Key activities 

The first inquiry is taking place in India in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI) India and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). It is supported by Landesa and WWF India. We plan for two further inquiries in Southeast Asia. The three stages of each inquiry are:

  • Stage 1: Case for action
  • Stage 2: Participatory inquiry
  • Stage 3: Action, evaluation and dissemination. 

Activating the agency of local actors is critical to delivering outcomes. For each national inquiry, Forum for the Future will partner with organisations with the knowledge, expertise and networks to engage effectively.

Inquiry participants

Each national inquiry will involve a select number (approximately 20) senior representatives of renewable energy companies, investment firms, financiers, major procurers of renewable energy, public policy-makers and civil society in a core inquiry group. A rigorous research project will be used to select participants. This is to ensure that we have the right experience, expertise and mix of individuals to deliver thought leadership on this emerging issue.

For more information or to register your interest, get in touch with Saksham Nijhawan at [email protected]

Who’s involved