I was lucky enough to interview Richenda van Leeuwen twice while in Abu Dhabi in January. Of all the great people I spoke with there, she’s one of my favorites. I think it is because of her clear interest in helping the world, helping people.
You can watch the interview below, or jump past it to see some of the highlights (if video is not your thing). But I really recommend watching the video interview.
To start off, I asked Richenda about SELCO, an Indian company that has been a Zayed Future Energy Prize finalist twice. Richenda sits on the board, and she highlighted something the co-founder of SELCO has emphasized: that, while solar power is often seen as a technology for “the rich in the West,” it is actually a great commercial solution even for the poorest communities in the world. Through a constant focus on innovative and finding the most innovative products, SELCO has been and continues to be a leader in this field. For more, I’ve written about SELCO here: SELCO—Cleantech Enablers Colonizing The World.
I also spoke with her about an organization she used to be executive director of, Trickle Up. I loved the term, and enjoyed hearing about the inspiration for it and what the organization does. It also drew a link to what Richenda is still working on today, empowering people in the developing world. Nowadays, she is primarily doing so with the United Nations Foundation (where she is the executive director of energy and climate, and its energy access initiative) and especially through the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All program.
I was also eager to hear her opinion on the upcoming UN climate talks in Paris. She was quite optimistic. Listen to what she said in the interview for more details. :)