Respecting human rights in Asia Pacific as we transition to a greener future
Published on 9th of April 2021
President and CEO of Asia Pacific at Vestas
At Vestas, we believe that people are fundamental to accelerating the energy transition.
As part of our Sustainability Strategy, we are committed to becoming ‘The safest, most inclusive, and socially responsible workplace in the energy industry’. This is because we believe that an inclusive and responsible energy transition should encompass the interests of all.
Having recently joined Vestas as President of Asia Pacific, I am determined to ensure our continual work with local communities and stakeholders, particularly as we expand the renewables infrastructure across the region.
As more and more clean energy projects crop up across the world, the network of stakeholders that could be impacted is vast and complex, particularly in emerging markets where governance infrastructures may not be as developed, but where renewable projects are expanding rapidly.
This can be the case in certain regions of Sri Lanka and particularly India, which is why we are delivering a myriad of initiatives in these areas.
By respecting human rights across the value chain of the renewables industry, we achieve a couple of things. Firstly, we play our part in the development of local economies and communities, but we also build a healthy foundation of community trust and acceptance for a wind farm throughout its lifetime.
In 2020 alone, Vestas partnered with the Magic Bus India Foundation, Selco Foundation, YGRO and Aga Khan Rural Support Programme India to positively impact the lives of at least 8,546 individuals across Chennai, Rajkot, Thattaparai and Mannar. Some of the initiatives included scholarships, small-business training and agricultural support centers.
In addition, partnerships with Saath Charitable Trust, NEEDS and VIKSAT Nehru Foundation for Development began in 2019 and were completed last year, impacting 5,081 people across Ahmedabad, Kutch and Taralkatti. Along with the provision of solar power and clean drinking water, Vestas and its partners facilitated health and hygiene programs.
All of these communities have some kind of relationship with our wind farms. Many have had the rare opportunity to witness the creation of a project from end-to-end, starting with the delivery of oversized blades winding through tight village tracks, to 100-meter-high towers being the only key infrastructure in sight.
Leading a responsible and inclusive energy transition is at the heart of Vestas’ CSR Strategy. Wind farms are built not just on 2,000 tonnes of concrete, but also on a healthy foundation of community trust.
Our projects are developed in some of the most remote corners of the globe. Wind resources might be abundant, however many of these locations are lacking in other basic needs.
In the rural vicinity of our Mannar Island Wind Power Project, many unemployed women struggle to provide for their families. Together with YGRO, we funded a fabric painting course for 66 women to create vibrant sarees, shirts and cloth for sale at nearby markets.
In addition, 197 local fishermen received training and a basic toolset to repair the outboard motor of their boats. As a result, the fishermen learned practical skills to maintain their small business. In the same region, there are several underprivileged schools who struggle to obtain their basic educational requirements. To help motivate the students and improve their learning experience, Vestas donated 339 sets of school bags and geometric boxes.
Vestas currently operates up to 1,341 MW of wind generation in the Tamil Nadu district. In the village of Thattaparai, Vestas joined forces with the Selco Foundation to install decentralized solar panels for two remote medical centers. Each center caters for 7 to 10 villages and offers a powered pharmacy, laboratory, and birthing suite. Included in this, Vestas funded a solar powered learning platform for 884 students across 10 local schools.
While transitioning the world’s energy, we also play a part in transitioning rural communities to more practical and innovative ways of living.
As the industry leader in several countries across Asia Pacific, Vestas looks forward to ongoing growth in this region. By integrating CSR into the way we work, we are in a better position to lead a responsible and inclusive energy transition.
To achieve a global shift to clean energy, we must never cease to positively influence the lives of the everyday people around us.