A Decade of Climate Innovation: An Interview with Mr. Fred Onduri, newly elected Chair of the CTCN Advisory Board

Fred Unduri, newly elected Chair of CTCN Advisory Board, shares his thoughts on the CTCN

News facts

Source organisation
Climate Technology Centre and Network
Renewable energy
Energy efficiency
Community based
Cross-sectoral enabler
Capacity building and training
Communication and awareness
Innovation & RDD

Interviewer Isabel Hagbrink, Communication Specialist CTCN: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Mr. Onduri. As the UNEP CTCN celebrates its 10-year anniversary, what accomplishments are you most proud of?

Mr. Onduri : Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the remarkable journey of the CTCN. Over the past decade, I'm particularly proud of the Center's role in bridging the gap between existing technologies and their application in developing countries. We've witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of leveraging technology to address climate change, especially in countries most vulnerable to its effects. 

Interviewer: The CTCN's work indeed seems crucial in the fight against climate change. How exactly does technology help?

Mr. Onduri: Technology serves as a powerful tool in our efforts to combat climate change and transition towards more sustainable practices. By harnessing innovative solutions, developing countries can leapfrog traditional high-carbon development pathways, thus reducing emissions and societal costs associated with climate change. 

Not only that, oftentimes climate technologies also help us tackle other development issues – like improved access to energy can lead to improved education for girls who spend less time collecting firewood, and more access to water due to less drought or better irrigation leads to fewer illnesses. It's about ensuring that technology works for us, enabling us to achieve our climate goals effectively and efficiently, leaving no one behind.   

Interviewer: Could you provide examples of the types of technologies that are making a difference through the CTCN's initiatives?

Mr. Onduri: Absolutely. What's fascinating is that impactful technologies don't always have to be cutting-edge; they simply need to be environmentally-friendly and appropriate for the specific challenges at hand. For instance, simple energy efficiency measures in the industrial sector have proven highly effective in Pakistan, where the CTCN funded projects to improve energy efficiency and promote sustainable electricity use, thereby reducing carbon footprints. 

Another example: In my own country, Uganda, the CTCN supported a geothermal policy and regulation project. This small intervention catalyzed what can potentially create a big impact. The new policy gave us and some of our neighbours in East Africa - like Kenya, Tanzania, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Burundi - an opportunity to present a proposal on how to develop low and medium heat geothermal facilities in the region, which - when implemented - will help to address current electricity gaps.

Interviewer: It's impressive to see such tangible outcomes. Can you share other examples of technological interventions supported by the CTCN?

Mr. Onduri: Certainly. We've supported a range of innovative projects across different regions. For instance, in Saint Kitts and Nevis, drought risk modelling has enabled better preparedness for climate-related challenges. Similarly, initiatives like preparing the ground for transport to run on renewable energy in the Solomon Islands and slamdam structures to protect crops from flooding in Burundi demonstrate how tailored technological solutions can enhance resilience in vulnerable communities dealing with climate change. 

Interviewer: Speaking of vulnerable communities, how does the CTCN support small island states facing immediate climate threats?

Mr. Onduri: Small island states are indeed on the front lines facing the impact of climate change. Through the CTCN, we've facilitated initiatives like e-mobility projects in the Solomon Islands, which address transportation challenges while reducing emissions, and energy efficiency projects in Papua New Guinea, which not only contribute to combating climate challenges, but also energy security by reducing dependency on fossil fuel imports. Also, our funding has supported the development infiltration gallery systems for low-lying islands like the Maldives.  

Interviewer: There is no rose without thorns. What are some of the challenges that you are facing?

Mr. Onduri: Well, clearly, delivering systemic change through technology transfers is no small feat. Some of the challenges include accessing the financing needed to implement some of these rather expensive technologies. Another is finding partners who can subsequently take these pilots to the next level – which involves risk-taking. And finally, at times we see a rigid mindset and attitude that resists change.

Interviewer: Thank you, Mr. Onduri, for sharing these insights into the impactful work of the UNEP CTCN. It's evident that technology, when applied thoughtfully, holds tremendous potential in advancing climate resilience and sustainability efforts globally.

Mr. Onduri: My pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the vital role of technology in addressing the climate crisis. 

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