GWNET brings you the 9th instalment of the “Meet the Women in Clean Cooking” series which celebrates the work and achievements of the women who are part of the Clean Cooking Mentorship Program. This program is made up of 30 mentee-mentor tandems, with mentees from over 15 countries. Meet Clean Cooking mentor, Ute Collier, Head – Policy (Renewable Energy Markets) at IRENA in the UAE.
1) Tell us a little about yourself. What do you love most about what you do?
I am happy to be part of the global clean energy transition. I have always been driven by a love for nature and I want to make a contribution (no matter how small) to save the planet! Inefficient cooking with biomass has terrible effects on local environments through deforestation, as well as a wider climate change impact and of course it ruins many women’s health. It’s astonishing how little awareness there is of the cooking problem in the wider energy field and I enjoy being able to put more of a spotlight on it.
2) What were your goals when you started working in clean cooking? How have these evolved?
My main goal has been to get decision-makers to focus more on clean cooking. This hasn’t really changed and we have a long way to go!
3) What are the opportunities for clean cooking in your country?
I’m lucky to be living in the part of the world where we mostly cook with clean sources (apart from the odd charcoal barbecue!). But countries in Europe are major donors and can make a significant contribution to the shift to clean cooking elsewhere, yet most of the energy access funding currently goes to electricity. There are big opportunities for raising awareness on the importance of clean cooking in achieving the SDGs, to help shift new funding into clean cooking programmes.
I’ve not actually lived in a developing country or had any experience of implementing clean cooking programmes or projects. To understand the challenges of the sector, I have tried to have many conversations with a diversity of actors. Plus get good peer reviewers to comment on the analysis I’ve done on the topic.
5) What advice would you give to women hoping to join the clean cooking sector?
There are no simple solutions and one size fits all in clean cooking. But it’s still useful to learn from the experiences elsewhere, so try and network widely. Don’t get frustrated by lack of progress in the sector, we’ll get there eventually!
Read more about GWNET’s mentoring programmes here.
If you are interested in volunteering as a mentor in one of GWNET’s mentoring programmes (which involves approx. 1 – 1.5 hours of engagement per month plus optional participation in knowledge-transfer webinars), kindly fill-in the Mentor Datasheet.