Technical solutions aren’t sufficient to guarantee the success of small-scale renewable energy projects in Brazil. But, says 2016 IDRC Research Award recipient Catherine Gucciardi Garcez, that’s where the focus has largely been. “Issues of social inclusion and governance — and enabling local communities to participate in those initiatives — are not as strong,” she says.
“I understand the potential of renewables and some of these technologies are laudable solutions,” says Gucciardi Garcez. “My research shows that the developers were well-intentioned, but they didn't spend enough time getting buy-in from the local community or in getting the community to participate enough to create local ownership. Without engaging the proper stakeholders, we’re at risk of not achieving the kind of impact we’d like to have or that’s needed,” she says.
An engineer, Gucciardi Garcez completed both her master’s and doctorate in environmental policy in Brazil. “I had been living outside of Canada for five to six years before coming to IDRC,” she says. “This was my first professional experience back in Canada after a long time. It's been quite helpful in gaining a professional network, which I had lost.”