"A huge help" for climate innovators

Free legal support by A4ID for Ashden Award winners

Craig Burnett

Editor

A man adjusts a lightbulb

The Ashden Awards offer a host of benefits to climate solutions innovators – from grants and precious publicity to connection with investors. One important opportunity is links to free legal services.

Ashden channels award winners to legal support through a long-running partnership with global charity Advocates for International Development (A4ID). A4ID connects development organisations – such as NGOs and start-up social enterprises – with the world’s leading law firms, who can offer free (‘pro bono’) support in a range of areas. Now Ashden award winners have joined the long list of organisations benefiting from A4ID’s work.

Joe Tan, A4ID’s Pro Bono Legal Services Manager explains: “A4ID promotes requests for pro bono support to its worldwide network of legal partners, and facilitates the relationship between law firms and development organisations. We expect our development partners to frame their request for pro bono support in the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, so we can ensure that this valuable support goes to organisations addressing the biggest global challenges.”

Along with ensuring access to pro bono services, A4ID also supports the rule of law in developing countries through events, publications, and training.

Support for new data policies wins praise

Ashden Award winners that have benefited from A4ID include the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), implementors of the Beyond the Grid Fund for Zambia. The fund has used an innovative public-private model to connect 880,000 people in rural communities with clean energy, and won an Ashden Award in 2019.

Earlier this year REEEP needed to make sure its data protection policies were compliant with EU law, and also legislation in Austria, where the organisation is based. REEEP accessed pro bono legal help through A4ID, following an introduction by Ashden.

REEEP General Counsel Agnes Steinberger said action ensured the organisation was compliant with relevant laws, which strengthened its reputation and instilled confidence in current and potential partners and funders. In addition, improved data protection was a requirement for accessing funding from certain sources. Ms Steinberger said the support received was as efficient and of high quality as paid-for legal services. “We are highly pleased with the legal support we got through the network, and it has been a huge help.”

Specialist lawyers advise on fund structures

Another Ashden winner that benefitted was SunFunder, a specialist debt fund manager for distributed solar energy that has invested in over 50 solar companies, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. In a bid to unlock greater institutional investment and scale blended finance for the sector, SunFunder sought to explore alternative structures for future funds. After Ashden connected the organisation with A4ID, it was able to receive advice from qualified, specialist lawyers to support this work.

Ashden International Programme Manager Chhavi Sharma said: “Climate innovators face huge challenges, now more than ever. Free legal support is enormously helpful, and in particular makes cutting-edge solutions more attractive and investable. But for organisations that don’t have the right connections, it can be tough to find.

“We are proud to work with A4ID in bringing our award winners first-rate legal support.”

If you wish to know more about A4ID’s services or to register as one of their Development Partners please contact Joe Tan at Joe.Tan@a4id.org.

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