GBCHealth Case Study of the Month Newsletter | Cookstoves



Global Alliance for Clean CookstovesThis month GBCHealth presents an innovative public-private partnership with the ambitious and multi-faceted mission of saving lives, improving livelihoods, empowering women and protecting the environment, all through the creation of a global market for clean cookstoves and fuels.

Launched by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2010, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves’ goal is to get 100 million households to adopt clean cooking solutions by 2020. The Alliance is working to overcome market barriers in developing countries that impede the production, deployment and use of clean cookstoves and fuels for more than 3 billion people a day.

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

The United Nations Foundation (UNF), a GBCHealth member, leads the Alliance, which is headquartered at UNF’s office in Washington, DC. GBCHealth members Royal Dutch Shell and Accenture, via its nonprofit arm Accenture Development Partners, have applied some of their core competencies to the effort. The Alliance engages more than 500 additional partners — including corporations, 38 national governments, nonprofit organizations, manufacturers, UN agencies, and research and academic institutions — across six continents.

Exposure to smoke from the simple act of cooking is one of the top five risk factors for death and disease in developing countries, predominately among women and children. According to The Lancet’s Global Burden of Disease 2012 Study, harmful smoke from indoor cookstoves causes 4 million premature deaths per year by increasing the risk of cancers, heart and lung diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and bronchitis. In fact, the burning of solid fuels, including wood and coal, for cooking kills more people every year than tuberculosis and malaria combined.

Cooking over a traditional cookstove

The impact on young children is severe: half of pneumonia deaths among children under five years old are due to particulate matter inhaled from household air pollution caused by the combustion of wood, charcoal, animal dung and coal burned in open fires or traditional cookstoves.

Inefficient cooking practices also cause burns, deforestation, the release of gases that contribute to climate change, and the risk of attack upon women and children forced to travel long distances each day to collect fuel—particularly in conflict zones.


Case Study | Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

About the Partners and Their Roles

United Nations Foundation

United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation is a non-profit organization that runs a number of campaigns and initiatives, some that directly support UN programs and others that tackle key global development challenges. The Alliance Secretariat is based in the UN Foundation’s Washington, DC headquarters.

Royal Dutch Shell Corporation
Royal Dutch ShellShell is one of the founding partners of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. In 2010 Shell made a $6 million commitment to enable a thriving market for clean cookstoves. This contribution is more than solid financial support. It has provided business expertise to better understand the markets for cookstoves, including through the secondment of a Shell business professional. This secondee is helping the Alliance attract investors and supporting stove businesses to develop carbon credits. David Martin, senior executive at Shell, serves on the Alliance Advisory Board and helps raise awareness across networks and with public and private partners for the Alliance.

The absence of internationally-recognized clean cookstove standards and limited in-country testing capabilities has hampered efforts to scale up adoption rates. Shell has provided funding to support the Alliances work to create global standards for clean cookstoves and support testing centers for clean cookstoves.

On-the-ground support from local Shell offices has helped provide national organizations with the resources they need to carry out their efforts, notably in Nigeria and East Timor. The company has also helped to showcase the household air pollution issue at regional and international workshops and conferences, including the Better Air Quality conference in Hong Kong in December.

Shell’s support adds to the earlier and ongoing work of Shell Foundation, an independent charity, in establishing and further developing the Alliance. The Foundation applies business thinking to global development challenges. A pioneer of the sector since 2002, it works across all aspects of the market to help deliver affordable, durable, clean cookstoves to the people that need them on a global scale. It focuses on solutions that are sustainable over the long-term and builds networks within the industry.

Accenture Development Partnerships
Accenture Development Partners, the non-profit arm of Accenture, has worked with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves over the last two years to provide insight into the global clean cooking solutions market by carrying out country-specific market assessments, providing potential intervention options by context, and developing a cookstoves market assessment toolkit.

To do this, the Accenture Development Partners team conducted initial research to gather contextual country information and then spent time in-country to interview leaders of cookstove businesses and programs along the entire value chain, as well as other experts working in the clean cookstove sector and beyond.

Each market assessment included:

  • A profile of the country’s current household air pollution exposure and awareness level;
  • A macro context of the market including demographic, social, gender, political, economic and ecological conditions and trends;
  • A profile of consumer behavioral patterns and prioritized drivers of choice, including price sensitivity and accessibility; and
  • An overview of the improved cookstove and fuel industries, including cookstoves currently used, main designers and manufacturers, commercial viability of the cookstoves sector, and potential for livelihood creation for both women and men in the value chain.

The assessments also examined consumer demand by estimating the potential market size for clean cookstoves and market segmentation to understand where to focus efforts and social marketing activities. The Alliance identified consumer needs and preferences as drivers of adoption and key fuel issues within different consumer segments and genders, such as the time spent on fuel collection and the cost of fuel.

Cooking over a traditional cookstoveAccenture conducted market assessments in Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. The Alliance also used the data and research from its stakeholder consultation workshops to develop the Alliance’s in-country engagement strategy. The assessment toolkit is also being utilized in other markets to expand the knowledge base of cookstove actors in-country and those interested in getting involved in the cookstove space or expanding to other markets.

About the Program

The Alliance has developed a comprehensive business plan that mobilizes resources to catalyze the creation of a thriving global market for clean cookstoves and fuels and achieve its goal of 100 million households adopting clean cookstoves and fuels by 2020.

The Alliance believes that a market-based approach is the way to achieve this goal, and is working to systematically remove the barriers that prevent adoption at scale. Across three phases, the Alliance will:

  1. Launch global and in-country efforts to rapidly grow the sector (2012-14)
  2. Drive investments, innovation, and operations to scale (2015-17); and
  3. Promote a thriving and sustainable global market for clean cookstoves and fuels (2018-20)

The Alliance is focused on interventions that are transformational in nature, go beyond the ability of any one individual organization to accomplish, and fit within the following six value propositions that will enable the Alliance to promote a thriving global market for clean cookstoves and fuels:

  • Catalyze the sector and broker partnerships – Convene stakeholders around a central strategy for addressing the issue and foster connections among diverse constituencies;
  • Mobilize resources – Attract new partners, expertise and funding to the sector;
  • Increase investments – Build capacity of the sector to be ‘investment ready,’ and raise the profile of the issue within the investment community;
  • Champion the sector and advocate for change – Advance clean cooking solutions on national and international agendas, and advocate for national and local governments to create a favorable policy and regulatory environment;
  • Promote international standards – help develop and implement emissions, efficiency and safety standards for cookstoves; and
  • Coordinate sector knowledge and research – commission, collect and coordinate research within the sector and related fields.

Mother and child preparing a meal over a traditional cookstove

Since launching two years ago, the Alliance has engaged in a number of programmatic activities in support of its mission and its goal:

  • Developed the ground-breaking sector strategy, Igniting Change: A Strategy for Universal Adoption of Clean Cookstoves and Fuels.
  • The strategy highlights the problem of toxic cookstove smoke; identifies previous barriers to the adoption of clean cookstoves and fuels; discusses why the time is right for both the Alliance’s formation and the creation of a thriving global market for clean cooking solutions and identifies illustrative examples of the three strategic activities the Alliance and the sector can undertake to save millions of lives and reduce climate change: enhance demand, strengthen supply and foster an enabling environment.
  • Developed consensus guidelines and initiated standards for cookstove efficiency, safety and emissions through an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) process.
  • Held stakeholder consultations in 18 countries, completed detailed market assessments of the clean cookstoves and fuels sector in 16 nations, and initiated country action plans in six countries: Bangladesh, China, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.
  • Advanced national Alliances in Asia, Latin America and Africa to support the development of national clean cookstoves and fuel markets.
  • Raised over $29 million in total for the Alliance secretariat and its grant programs, and leveraged more than $120 million in parallel funding to spur advances in clean cooking.
  • Created the new Alliance Spark Fund to support entrepreneurs in the sector with an initial $2 million investment.
  • Commissioned research in the areas of child survival, climate change and best practices for empowering women; awarded support for testing centers in half a dozen countries to build the evidence base and enable high-quality solutions.
  • Developed a stove performance inventory containing data from over 600 unique tests to compare lab and field results and set credible standards.
  • Integrated the U.S. EPA’s Partnership for Clean Indoor Air program into the Alliance and assumed PCIA’s leadership of the Biennial Forum on clean cookstoves and fuels.
  • Secured celebrity ambassadors and world leaders to serve in advocacy and advising roles including Former Irish President Mary Robinson; UN Women Executive Director and former President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet; Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson; Academy Award-winning actor Julia Roberts; Chef Jose Andres; and Ghanaian musician Rocky Dawuni.

Next Steps

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves has taken an approach that is still fairly new in international development by working to create and sustain thriving markets to help the more than 500 million households around the world that still cook over open fires or on traditional cookstoves. The initiative’s market-based approach married the power of the private sector with the passion and knowledge base of the non-profit world to advance the adoption of clean cookstoves and fuels and help reach the Alliance’s 100 million household adoption goal by 2020. Coupled with the commitment of almost 40 governments (donor and implementing countries), the market intelligence and business acumen of companies like Shell and Accenture Development Partnerships, and the expertise of leading international researchers, the Alliance has formed a dynamic public-private partnership that is already yielding strong health, climate, economic and development results for the population it serves.

Learn More

Explore the rich library at The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves including:

  • Igniting Change | A Strategy for Universal Adoption for Clean Cookstoves and Fuels
  • Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Second Year Report | Enabling Markets Worldwide
  • Clean Cooking Forum 2013 in Phenom Penh, Cambodia | Igniting Change, Fueling Markets & Sparking Adoption


To become an Alliance partner, please contact