Dr Edwina Fingleton-Smith

BA Development Studies (ANU); MA Environmental Law and Sustainable Development (SOAS, University of London)

Edwina is currently completing a PhD on energy access in developing countries based on qualitative research conducted over three years in Kenya. The research looks to reassess our assumptions about the value of energy for improving development outcomes. This includes issues such as the capacity of energy to improve productivity and economic development; the role of energy in improving women’s lives; and what theoretical models around energy use in developed countries can tell us about energy use by the 1.7 billion people who don’t have access to electricity and the 2.7 billion people who still cook over traditional fuels.

Over the past several years, energy access has risen in prominence and priority globally, most notably evidenced in its status as a stand-alone goal in the Sustainable Development Goals and as critical focal area of UNFCCC climate change negotiations. Therefore there are significant implications from this research for international development practice and current global policy debates and government decision-making.

Edwina is driven by a passion for sustainable development and the big questions that arise from the relationship between energy and development: Who actually benefits from access to modern energy and how do they benefit? What can we do to maximize the benefit of access to energy access? What does the future of energy access in developing countries look like?

Prior to starting her PhD Edwina completed a Masters of Environmental Law and Sustainable Development at SOAS (University of London) and a Bachelor of Development Studies at the Australian National University. Edwina previously held a position as a research associate with international development NGO Practical Action working on the development of market based energy access projects. She also worked for the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy hub ENERGIA on the links between women’s economic empowerment and energy access.