By expanding who has the power to harness the wind, Sergio Oceransky promotes social justice and creates income for indigenous communities through his organization, the Yansa Foundation.
“I see myself as a connector, a facilitator, an organizer — an interface between different worlds that don’t often connect to each other.”
As companies vie for control of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca, Mexico, Sergio Oceransky is leading the counter charge. The wind generated over this narrow strip of land represents one of the world’s most vital energy resources — with the potential to serve 15 million European households — a potential goldmine for any energy company (or community) staking their claim. Sergio sees this as an historic opportunity for social justice by giving control of this valuable resource to the local Oaxacans. He says, “Once our entire energy system is run on projects driven by social value under a community-based scheme, we can leave the rest of the landscape alone."
Sergio founded Yansa in 2009 to help establish community-controlled wind farms on indigenous lands. He came upon the idea while working at the World Wind Energy Institute (WWEI) where he sensed a disconnect between the organization’s training programs and its real life applications; the organization didn’t go as far as funding those wind projects. Instead, corporations often take over communal lands offering only a token compensation for its use. Sergio sought to change that through a democratic transition of power back to the locals — educating them on the value of their natural resources and providing them with the legal framework, funding and technology to operate their own grassroots wind farm.
Growing up with a mother who ran a women’s refuge and was an advocate for immigrant rights had an impact on Sergio; even in his early teens, Sergio was already joining grassroots causes and as a high school sophomore, co-founded a student group for social justice. At college, he studied development economics and delved into anti-globalization efforts, later turning his focus onto renewable energy as a means of positive social change.
Sergio defines success as the point when “community-based renewable energy has replaced fossil fuel and nuclear energy generation and energy consumption is no longer growing.” In addition to providing assistance in Mexico, Yansa is also working in New Zealand, Europe and North America, helping the locals benefit from their communal heritage.