Hillary Rodham Clinton

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Third Anniversary Celebration - Sept. 26, 2013

Hillary Rodham Clinton
September 26, 2013— New York City
Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Third Anniversary Celebration
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This is so exciting oh my goodness. Thank you Radha for that introduction, but so much more than that thanks for your leadership, and thanks to all of you who are here on behalf of this important cause. I want to thank Kathy Calvin at the United Nations Foundation, Chris Paul Thurston who nurtured the Alliance at the State Department and all of you friends, investors, supporters who have helped to the Alliance grow so rapidly.

I can't believe it's the third anniversary of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, and you know usually by the time you're three you're off and running, and we are off and running, and it feels so right because when we started three years ago at the annual meeting at the Clinton Global Initiative, which is across the street where I've been for the last three days, we launched this alliance with 19 founding partners and the aim was to raise the visibility and mobilize a global effort to address the health and environmental dangers posed by the toxic smoke from dirty stoves and open fires which the World Health Organization considered to be a serious health risk but one that I never saw being reported on. It was something that was happening, but not very many people were aware of it.

Now we knew it'd be difficult. We had the technical challenges of designing safe, clean, durable, affordable—translate "cheap"—stoves to the logistical challenge of distributing them all over the world and making sure that the models fit the needs in the regions and for the women and girls who had to use them. We hoped that by raising this issue and encouraging technological breakthroughs and growing private sector engagement we would succeed in creating that market where other efforts had not yet.

So we did bring together partners from governments, business, international institutions academia, philanthropy to pursue a market-based approach to empower people everywhere to be part of the solution, and we set an ambitious goal:100 million homes adopting new clean stoves and fuels by 2020. Well thanks to all of you, thanks to the thoughtful and comprehensive strategy charted by the Alliance, we have moved from 19 original partners to more than 800, so give yourselves a big round of applause.

And our work has focused on Bangladesh, China, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, with efforts beginning in India and Guatemala, and I particularly want to thank the president of Guatemala, who has made this a national strategic imperative. Now the United States government has boosted its commitment up to a hundred and twenty-five million dollars building on the $50 million that I announced in 2010.

The Alliance already supports 13 testing centers around the world, so we can collect data about what works and what doesn't. And the Alliance has spearheaded new global standards for cook stoves and fuel, giving manufacturers, distributors, buyers guidelines for cleanliness, safety and efficiency standards. And we are- yeah let's hear it for efficiency standards. There aren't many places I go for a party where people would applaud for efficiency standards. You know you're my kinda people. I love this.

And so it we think it's working. More than eight million clean cookstoves were distributed last year alone, that's more than double the number in 2011. And I'm so pleased to see how private sector partners are stepping up and signing on. The Alliance has driven $35 million dollars in investment in clean cookstoves, we're on our way to a goal of one billion by 2020, major new commitments from Royal Dutch Shell, Deutsche Bank, General Electric among others are building momentum and these investments will, we believe, spur innovation and market growth.

For example, the Alliance and Deutsche Bank have created a four million dollar working capital fund to provide loans and guarantees to cook stove enterprises that are unable to access traditional forms of financing. The spark fund is helping partners reach commercial viability and scale up their efforts, and there are many other examples.

We also have learned a lot in three years, and some of it has been pretty sobering. New research has doubled our estimates for the number of premature deaths each year related to household air pollution from two million to four million. That makes it the fourth worst health risk in the world after high blood pressure, alcohol and tobacco, and it is the second-worst for women.

So what we thought we knew three years ago, now we are even more motivated because we have much better data, and the picture it paints is even more distressing. So this has to be a call to action to keep the Alliance going and growing, to find more partners, to expand markets, put more stoves in the hands of consumers, convince those consumers to use them, to learn how they will help them while still providing meals for their families, save more lives.

I've been so struck as I look at these pictures and the experiences that I've had on visiting in small dwellings in small villages in many parts of the world, and more than once I would be invited into someone's home, and I would go in, and I couldn't breathe. I mean my eyes were starting to water, I was having trouble because the cook stove was billowing out fumes that were not something I had to live with for more than, you know, 30 minutes, but which the women and children in the home lived with every single day.

There's also the challenge of finding fuel, which leads women and girls to travel sometimes hours to find scarce fuel, putting them at increased risk of violence and also taking away other productive activities they could be doing in those hours.

Yesterday at the Clinton Global Initiative looking ahead to the 20th anniversary of the fourth UN conference on women in Beijing that will be in September of 2015, I announced a new effort to evaluate progress that women and girls have made over the past two decades, and also to be very clear-eyed about how far we still have to go. But thanks to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, one thing we know is that women today are gaining access to tools and technologies far out of reach twenty years ago, and that we are helping to move toward our goal of a hundred million households by 2020.

I will be a strong and enthusiastic supporter and partner up the Alliance in the years to come, but I know very well it's all of you and people like you around the world who are really making a difference. Last year I was in Chennai, India, and we had a demonstration of the new stoves alongside the old ways of cooking that was out in an open space, and one of the universities in India was doing research by strapping respirators that recorded the amount of toxicity that the women were breathing as they worked on these various stoves and keeping track of what happened as they changed from the traditional method to a newer, more efficient, safer method, and the numbers were staggering in terms of what was being breathed in before and after.

When you saw the faces of those women who were trying out the new stoves, there was a lot of- there was a little bit of suspicion, not an immediate embrace, but as they got the hang of it, and as the researchers explained to them how much safer this was for themselves and their babies, you could see them, you know, sitting up straighter and really grasping that, you know, maybe they wouldn't have to spend so much time on this very basic task, and maybe they could do that without endangering the future of their family.

So it was a touching display, and a great reminder, of what we can do when we work together. We're all in this together, and we have an opportunity to make a real difference in millions of lives, so please continue your work in support of the Alliance and let's keep getting together and tracking our progress as we move toward our goal in 2020.