Hivos International

Climate change and sustainable energy production are high on the political agenda. Public debate generally focuses on how the use of fossil fuels can be reduced. However, less attention is given to the lack of energy access for people living in developing countries. Remarkably, the solution to both issues is the same: renewable energy. In its projects, Hivos aims to demonstrate that green and inclusive energy is not a pipe dream or an alternative, but simply the best choice. Our research informs our stance in the debate and reflects on our projects in the field.

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Benefits from Biofuels

Hivos’ Renewable Energy programme focuses on governments and large corporations as well as people without access to modern forms of energy. Together with our partners, we aim to develop simple, smart, clean and off-grid technologies accessible to people in remote areas, like biodigesters, biomass briquetting and solar power systems, or mini-grids running on liquid biofuels, amongst others. Hivos has published extensive evaluations of a range of projects, like the highly promising and trending Jatropha plant. Other studies concern bioslurry, a by-product from biogas produced from cattle, pig and buffalo dung (and other excrement). One of our publications concludes that bioslurry not only solves various soil fertility problems, but also gives farmers using biogas in Africa and Southeast Asia access to renewable energy services, while helping mitigate poverty and climate change. All our research and learnings can be found in this dossier.  

Energy Change Lab

The Energy Change Lab, a Hivos-IIED partnership, cultivates space for innovative thinking and exploring complex ideas in the energy domain. The Lab noted that mainstream debates on energy futures tend to focus on energy sources, market regulation, security, demand, price and the environment, but have a common blind spot: the role of ordinary people in energy systems. One publication especially focuses on the role of citizens in future’s energy systems. Furthermore, the Lab has conducted research on productive uses of energy in Tanzania and on user feedback mechanisms in the energy sector, also explicitly focusing on Tanzania. The Energy Change Lab is not only a space for experimenting, outlining steps for further action and exploration, but also a source of knowledge. 

For these and more insights about renewable energy, do browse through this dossier!

Other Knowledge Dossiers

Citizen Action

Citizens are central actors in public and political arenas. Their ability to hold governments to account and to participate fully in democratic processes is contingent upon their ability to associate, assemble freely and express opinions. Around the globe citizens are claiming their rights, rising up to injustices and proposing alternatives. What lessons can we draw from citizen action? How do different forms of technology contribute to raise citizens’ voices? In this dossier, we explore various forms of citizen action and their effectiveness at bringing about positive change.

Gender and Sexual Rights

Hivos has a long and remarkable history in the field of Gender and Sexual Rights. We were one of the first organisations that campaigned for sexual rights, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, intersexuals (LGBTIs), but also men who have sex with men (MSM) without considering themselves homosexual. In the field of women’s rights, we have been supporting women all over the world to organise and become a countervailing power in their societies. In both domains, we seek new ways to bring about change in people’s mindsets.

Methods of Change

We are constantly seeking to improve our understanding of the world's workings and our place in it. To us, social innovation is a means to an end, or better yet, a way to contribute to a free, fair and sustainable world. But what does that mean in practice? It means working with a broad range of stakeholders in multi-actor initiatives and conducting “Change Labs”. It means having a user-centered approach and co-creating solutions with the people we want to reach.


Pluralism and diversity are essential ingredients of a dynamic society. Yet, ingrained values, acquired privileges and established power structures often limit people’s acceptance of different values, identities and religions. In too many places around the world, people are faced with intolerance.

Sustainable Food and Biodiversity

Hivos has a long history of working on issues concerning food, agriculture and biodiversity. Research has and continues to underpin many of our projects in the field, and contributes to broader debates on sustainable food. In our view, citizens should be centre-stage in a transition towards sustainable and inclusive food production and consumption. Signs of the required transformation are emerging worldwide, luckily. In local communities, small enterprises are launching sustainable food products. How do those frontrunners opt for change?

Transitions in the Middle East and North Africa

Since the outbreak of the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2011, the region is undergoing tectonic shifts. The pace, quality and quantity of political and social changes are unprecedented. In short, the MENA region is the scene of historic revolutions and counter-revolutions. In such a rapidly changing context, conventional wisdom about static societies and states in the MENA do not make sense and are out of context. There is no shortage of knowledge produced in the West about MENA.