In each edition of this blog, you will get to know a couple of our members from our organization or our local partners. Who is driving our organization and our projects, and what drives them? 

Welcome to the 5th edition of this blog. Here, I will introduce you to Nishant Narayan. A few weeks ago Nishant joined our board to act in the role of chair.

Nishant brings his background characterised by an energy access lens on international development, and looks forward to being part of the board and supporting the strategic and organizational development of EWB-NL:

Volunteering at EWB-NL seems like quite a natural extension of my everyday professional lifeEWB-NL’s vision of sustainable technical solutions for global development aligns perfectly with both my personal and professional north star of sustainable global development.”

In his daily work, Nishant leads the Universal Integrated Energy Planning Program at Sustainable Energy for All, where he focuses on accelerating global access to clean energy.

Nishant grew up in a large suburb of the city of Mumbai, India, when his primary interests made him opt for an engineering study, which was in Electronics & Communication. After working a few years in the semiconductor industry, Nishant moved to the Netherlands in 2011 to pursue his master’s in Sustainable Energy Technology at TU Delft. Over the subsequent years, he continued focusing on the field of solar energy and in 2019 obtained his PhD in off-grid solar solutions for improving electricity access.

Nishant’s international mindset is reflected in his passion for travelling. However, with the restrictive circumstances of the last years, he had to resort to his other passion — as he puts it, he ‘lives to eat and loves to cook’. If you don’t find him cooking in his house in The Hague, where he lives with his wife, or enjoying good food elsewhere, you will probably find him fanatically playing board games.

Please tell us why did you join EWB?

“EWB-NL’s vision of sustainable technical solutions for global development aligns perfectly with both my personal and professional north star of sustainable global development.

My first contact with EWB-NL was in 2020, when I was informally advising the Energy Portfolio on a few aspects. Earlier this year, a conversation with Antonio, former EWB-NL Chairman, around the strategic vision and impact of EWB-NL evolved into closer engagement with the organization, eventually culminating in me joining the board.”

What will your role include and what do you look forward to doing at EWB?

“I have taken the mantle of the Chairman of the strategic board from Antonio. The backbone of EWB-NL is formed by its various volunteers who devote their time and skills to either directly work on the projects or work on the many other operational and supporting aspects. The board simply exists to serve the needs of the organization and ensure its long-term strategic development.

I am looking forward to thinking alongside the various portfolios and projects so that the board can serve the organizational needs better.”

What is the key for ensuring an impact to be truly sustainable, according to you?

“For ensuring the impact to be truly sustainable, there are a few key ingredients needed in a (technological) intervention. One of the first steps is to understand the needs and constraints from all the local stakeholders who will be participating in and impacted by the project/intervention. The local capacity for uptake and maintenance beyond the project timeline also needs to be factored in. Only then can the project outputs turn into desired outcomes and eventually cause lasting impact. As it says on our website, the change has to be systemic for it to be a change at all.”

What is a project (any type of project or engineering project) that inspires you, and why?

“I find EWB-NL’s Iljan project undertaken in the Philippines very inspiring. It’s the perfect example of a societal challenge (access to water) taken on with a multi-disciplinary technological intervention, where the local stakeholders have been involved in the project from the start.”

What does it mean to engineer without borders? Why is it important?

“Look around the world right now in 2021 — it’s easier than ever to realize that borders are an artificial construct that nature does not respect. From climate change to COVID-19, some of the greatest challenges of our time — threats to humanity and the planet are agnostic to borders. Yet we live in a world with great disparities in socio-economic conditions of people across these artificial lines. At least with the time and skills we have at our disposal, we can engineer solutions to societal challenges across these borders.”

One of the quotes EWB-NL stands by is “Be the change you want to see in the world”. What is the change that the world needs according to you?

“Inclusivity – Whether it’s progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals or conventional economic growth, inclusivity is key for the world to progress in a more equitable and sustainable way.”

As always, continuing Nishant’s thoughts, I will end this blog with a reflective note.

Inclusivity, not only as a carrier of sustainable development. An inclusive society means an equitable society. It is a fundamental necessity. And on a deeper level, it is something that is natural to us. It stems from a sense of social awareness, human connection and purpose. Shouldn’t natural mechanisms be able to counteract prevailing systems?

Inclusivity can be a means to an end, but perhaps even moreso, an end in itself.

Stay tuned for the next edition of this miniblog!

Date: 8-11-2021

Text & Images edited by: Eva Labrujere

Illustration designed by: pikisuperstar / Freepik