I had the most amazing experience last week. I went to Ecuador with International Rivers to talk to the government in Quito, and at a forum “Agua, Energía y Derechos de los Pueblos” in Porto Viejo (near Manta, on the coast) about energy policy, especially efficiency and renewables. The general situation is that the government is rewriting the constitution and laws of Ecuador, and the Forum was intended to be a source of proposals related to protecting the rivers and the people who depend on them for their livelihoods from rash hydroelectric development. I was there to talk about the role of efficiency and renewables in California’s energy policy, and how we do resource planning and power plant licensing. It was a challenge to talk about policies that work in California, and be sensitive to that situation in Ecuador where indigenous people and peasants have limited incomes and no political influence, and the idea of rational planning and public participation are alien ideas. I was moved by the incredibly eloquent voices of the citizens who spoke. It was an important reminder that successful energy policy is not just about technology and policy, but also about people.
I made many new friends, some pictured below, with more photos on flickr.