Rebekah Shirley’s research helps identify real actions for promoting clean energy and sustainable economies in Africa.

Why you should listen

Dr. Rebekah Shirley is the deputy director for Africa at the World Resources Institute, where she uses research and data tools to mobilize ambition, promote policy and grow markets for sustainable enterprise across the continent. She led the region’s first jobs census for small-scale renewable energy technologies, spotlighting the major opportunity for growing Africa’s clean energy workforce through a focus on youth, skills and local enterprise. She also led the design of East Africa’s first integrated energy pilot, demonstrating how collaboration between energy providers can successfully accelerate access for rural homes and businesses. Recognizing the opportunity to better connect Africa’s youth with its burgeoning clean energy industry, she led the design of East Africa’s first graduate program on sustainable energy transitions and is a visiting lecturer at local universities.

While winning many awards for her work in Africa, Shirley has been passionate about bridging science and community action since the early days of her studies in energy resources as a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Her analysis of viable energy alternatives in Borneo helped civil society groups win a ground-breaking reversal of planned large dam construction, safeguarding more than half a million acres of highland rainforest as a community-managed reserve and sealing her future in non-profit research.

Rebekah Shirley’s TED talk