An Impactful 2019

With each passing year, countries across the globe are making sustained efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To eradicate poverty, provide good health, sanitation, education, clean energy, and bringing gender equality have been the key focus areas. Global Himalayan Expedition has been able to create a significant tangible and positive impact, received global recognition, and brought in innovation for community development. The year 2019 involved visiting remote villages for electrification, creating livelihood development, installing digital centers and sharing the holsitic impact approach on various global platforms. Along the way, the initiative received global recognition at various platforms. 

Working towards Mission
GHE continued electrification of Gyaik, Katpa Thonpo, Kumdok, Shanglang and many such villages in Ladakh. The feather in GHE’s cap was added when GHE team provided energy access to the highest village in Ladakh. GHE’s women solar engineers electrified the 35 houses in the village Maan situated at 14,000+ feet through solar microgrid systems in just 3 days. The work continued by setting up a digital center in the local school Sato village. In the midst of all this, GHE’s expeditions received a new identity of World’s First Climate Positive Traveler Expedition from World Travel & Tourism Council. In line with this, GHE is organizing the Second Edition of the Climate Action Expedition in 2020
In 2013, the idea of the electrification expedition was conceived from the concern of the holistic development of the communities living in remote places. Taking a step towards this mission, GHE launched Mountain Homestays in April 2019. Mountain Homestays is a community-based tourism model that creates livelihood opportunities by developing homestays and experiences in the electrified villages.

Sharing knowledge and expertise 
GHE’s experience of working with communities, implementing innovative solutions, creating a tangible impact while maintaining the financial viability of the business became a lighthouse work in the industry. And in April and May, GHE gladly shared some valuable learning on prestigious platforms such as WTTC Global Summit 2019 and Asian Resilience Summit. This year, GHE was part of the first Indian Start-Up Innovation Camp organized by World Tourism Forum Lucerne in partnership with Tata Trust. At the end of the year, GHE shared its journey as a start-up and social enterprise with the participants.
In May, GHE received a unique opportunity to participate in work that’s one of its kind. GHE was handpicked by the Government of India for the proven success in providing renewable energy in the remotest areas. The task was to find an innovative energy access solution for 180 polling booths in Ladakh. Completing it with a success, GHE installed 180 customized solar systems to power up the election polling booths in the high altitude areas of Ladakh.

Innovation for community development
In June, GHE came up with an innovative experience created out of local assets and without disturbing the local lifestyle. The crystal clear sky of the Ladakh region was an asset and GHE created an experience around by providing locals with additional skill of conducting stargazing sessions. In collaboration with IAU, GHE selected 30 women from 15 remote villages and trained them on astronomy to create Astrostays for Tourists that are visiting their homestays. The experience to which locals can give their extra time after their daily routine and tourists have an activity to do. 

Electrification Expeditions of 2019
The expedition season of 2019 began with the electrification of the 12th century-old Atitse Monastery. But the highlight of the year was GHE’s first Climate Action Expedition. On this expedition, participants came together to closely witness the effects of climate change on glaciers and electrify Yougar village situated remotely in Zanskar Valley. Other expeditions such as Himalayan Impact Expedition, Women Leaders Expedition also successfully electrified villages in different regions of Ladakh. But the year became special when GHE conducted its 100th expedition in September. This 100th electrification expedition brought together 17 students along with 3 teachers to electrify a village – Kanji in the Himalayas. GHE introduced installing a solar water heater in village Photorse. The electrification expedition season of this year resulted in the electrification of 6 villages in Ladakh.

Winning and presenting on global platforms
While GHE’s team working hard on the ground to bring out tangible positive impacts, the team also makes sure to participate in global level events to talk about possibilities of bringing wider positive change. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) recognized GHE for the contributions to the travel & tourism industry of India. The other truly key achievement of the year was when GHE participated and won the G20 Startup Innovation Award organized by Japan Tourism Board. This allowed GHE to present at the G20 Tourism Ministers summit in Japan. In the same month, the other team of the GHE was presenting the concept of Impact Tourism on the world’s biggest travel event. GHE spoke in ITB Asia, Singapore about its climate action expeditions, community engagement and strengthening the impact through Mountain Homestays.

Global Recognition 
As a result of the impact created since 2013, GHE began the year of 2019 with recognition as a successful impact travel start-up. In January 2019, GHE conducted a workshop organized by Outlook Responsible Tourism Initiative. In the same month, Massey University hosted the 1st Research Conference on Tourism and the SDGs. While talking about uneven tourism development and its difference between rural and urban areas, GHE’s advisor Dr. Kumi Kato talked about GHE as a successful rural tourism model. GHE’s electrification model grabbed the attention of one of the leading newspapers on a global level. British newspaper –The Guardian – acknowledged the Electrification Expedition model of GHE amongst the Top 10 Best Ethical Travel Companies. In August, GHE’s short film shot by 23-year-old filmmaker, Stanzin Jigmetmade it to the finalist entries for the COP 25 Global Youth Video Competition. The video poignantly captured life without electricity in the remote regions and change GHE’s work brings in the people’s lives.

Exploring New Destinations
To get closer to its mission of providing renewable energy access to the people living in remote regions, GHE explored some new corners of the world where people are still living without electricity. This year GHE invested in surveying areas of Nepal and North East India and realized the lack of a basic electricity supply in many villages. At the end of this year, GHE electrified the first village in North East India. The team provided solar power to 60 households of remote villages of Tura district in Meghalaya. In 2020, GHE will be electrifying the remote village located in Dolpo Valley of Nepal.

Going Forward
At the end of 2019, GHE electrified 101 villages, installed 18 digital centers, impacted 41,800 lives and mitigated 1340 tons of carbon. The awards and recognitions are a result of all the hard work and innovation that goes into creating such a tangible impact. In 2019, GHE has gone closer to achieving its mission and received acknowledgment for it. But it has also taken a valuable take away from this journey that it is capable of sharing its knowledge and be the lighthouse in the industry to create a wider impact. In the coming year, GHE will be focusing on electrifying villages in new destinations, holistic development through Mountain Homestays and consulting for sustainable practices in the industry. 

We wish all our stakeholders, partners and everyone who has been involved with us a very impactful 2020! 

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