CGEP Launches Energy Opportunity Lab to Address Energy Needs of Most Vulnerable Communities and Catalyze Climate Investment

The bedari collective Commits $5 million to Support Launch

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov. 8, 2022—Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), which advances actionable, smart and evidence-based energy and climate solutions, has today launched the Energy Opportunity Lab (EOL).  The Energy Opportunity Lab will help marginalized communities in the US and around the world increase and improve their access to energy and support economic development, while maintaining the world’s decarbonization goals.  

The announcement comes at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, as world leaders gather to deliberate over how to implement climate commitments already made in previous negotiations. 

 The Energy Opportunity Lab will partner with a broad range of stakeholders in the US and globally. It will build off and support work by others at Columbia University and across industry, government, civil society, and academia, in order to:

  • Design a new approach to finding energy solutions that address and advance sound and constructive energy access and opportunities around the world
  • Create an intelligence framework to connect world-class research with operators to help develop more effective, scalable energy applications
  • Identify and create specific, tangible ideas that respond to environmental, and market needs and empower communities with sustainable and accessible energy solutions


“Developing countries need more affordable, reliable, and scalable energy solutions to fight poverty and promote inclusive growth,” said Jason Bordoff, Founding Director of CGEP and Co-Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School. “But it must be done in a way that does not exacerbate climate change. The world is undergoing the worst energy crisis we’ve seen since the 1970s, but it’s precisely in these times that  we can’t lose sight of our goal. In fact doubling down on our efforts to reach our climate goals will help reduce our dependence on volatile hydrocarbon markets.”

“The global push towards de-carbonization and energy transition gives societies an unprecedented opportunity to invest in new ideas and infrastructure that will enable energy access to those most in need,” commented Matt Harris, chairman of CGEP’s advisory board and founder of bedari collective, which committed US$5 million in seed funding to launch EOL.   

 “Energy represents one of the most important drivers of economic development and we must ensure that historically underserved individuals and communities enjoy the benefits of clean and affordable power and heat.” 

“We are very grateful for Matt Harris' leadership in generously supporting the Energy Opportunity Lab and for contributing his experience and ideas for how the program could have real world impact ,” said Bordoff. “We’re confident our mission is not just achievable but vital in providing research, identifying key opportunities around energy access, and catalyzing the needed funding in a space that’s been all too often neglected.”

This year’s COP comes with added focus on the Global South. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said he would use Egypt’s role as the host country to advocate on behalf of other developing nations. Nearly 800 million people worldwide are without access to electricity—600 million in Africa—and many suffer from below-standard health care, education, and other social services exacerbated by a lack of energy opportunity. 

“In 2009, rich countries made a pledge, which has not yet been fulfilled, to provide $100 billion a year to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Wealthy nations have a responsibility to help developing economies in Africa and around the world achieve greater economic growth and an energy transition that is just and equitable,” said Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and advisory board member at CGEP. “EOL is a great example of initiatives we need to see in more abundance in the coming years to help the world unite current efforts on climate, energy, and development.”

Internationally, EOL will address the barriers low and middle income countries face in accessing finance to clean energy while allowing for much greater economic growth in all areas of development—from building roads and clinics to owning cars and air conditioners. 

“Energy use in developing countries is rising fast, said Tariye Gbadegesin, CEO of ARM-Harith Infrastructure Investment and CGEP advisory board member. “Historically, developing countries have contributed just a small fraction of the existing carbon in the atmosphere, but are more vulnerable to the effects of a warming planet. It’s important for EOL to be driven by global partnerships as it seeks climate solutions.”  

“EOL represents a tremendous opportunity for researchers collaborating with global networks towards finding real world solutions around energy and climate,” said Keren Yarhi-Milo, Dean of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). “Columbia University has a long history of seeking solutions for many of the world’s greatest challenges like global poverty, women’s rights, public health, COVID-19, and climate change. EOL adds to this and demonstrates the potential impact schools like SIPA can have.”

In the United States, the Energy Opportunity Lab will address the energy disparities and burdens facing disadvantaged communities that block their opportunities for growth. Poorer households and households of color consume less energy and contribute less to greenhouse gas emissions than the average household. Despite this, they spend a greater share of their income, roughly three times more than non–low-income households, on energy. These communities are also disproportionately located next to polluting facilities and lie in areas prone to disasters exacerbated by climate change.


The Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA advances smart, actionable and evidence-based energy and climate solutions through research, education and dialogue. Based at one of the world’s top research universities, what sets CGEP apart is our ability to communicate academic research, scholarship and insights in formats and on timescales that are useful to decision makers. We bridge the gap between academic research and policy — complementing and strengthening the world-class research already underway at Columbia University, while providing support, expertise, and policy recommendations to foster stronger, evidence-based policy. Recently, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger announced the creation of a new Climate School — the first in the nation — to tackle the most urgent environmental and public health challenges facing humanity. Visit us at

About bedari collective

The bedari collective invests in solutions that acknowledge the importance of regenerative systems and infrastructure —supporting the ability for individuals, communities and the environment to heal, thrive and grow, together. We envision a future in which natural resources are replenished, built infrastructure has a positive impact, and communities care for each other. We take a holistic approach to problem-solving and solutions-creation, combining research, education and both market-based and philanthropic impact strategies to synergistically move ideas forward and drive systems change. Learn more at