Key messages of the „Jugend & Green Skills“ Online Event
On Wednesday, the 1st of December, the Global Forum for Sustainable Energy (GFSE) hosted a virtual event entitled "Youth and Green Skills." Issues of climate change and energy transition concern all generations. This workshop aimed to discuss possibilities for youth engagement in climate and energy policy. With experienced speakers, we were able to learn and debate local, international and global approaches.
Former Ambassador and GFSE President Irene-Giner-Reichl opened the event. She highlighted that the United Nations (UN) had been intensively working on Development Goal 7 (SDG7), "Affordable and Clean Energy," and its acceleration. Overall, the transformation of systems towards carbon-neutral value creation would be too slow. Two essential and large groups that could accelerate and support change are often not involved and do not influence decisions. These two groups are women and youth. Both groups are not well involved, and changing this is a significant concern for us. Also, in the Vienna Energy Forum (VEF) preparatory process, these two groups were explicitly asked to participate actively, and youth and women were empowered to be essential actors of transformation. With this virtual event, the GFSE makes a small but significant contribution to offering women and young people a stage. Special skills are needed to help shape this transformation of our world and environment - green skills because the future belongs to women and young people.
Involving young people via social media:
In the first lecture, Ms. Susanne Wolf-Eberl presented us with the latest findings and experiences from the project "youthcodes". Young people's understanding of the necessity of the mobility transition will contribute decisively to the success of new mobility patterns and technologies. In the reality of young people's lives, the topic of sustainability, especially self-restraint and traffic avoidance in the context of mobility, currently plays a rather subordinate role. To make the consequences of their mobility behavior comprehensible and meaningful to young people at an early stage and to motivate them to develop conscious, sustainable, and sufficiency-oriented mobility styles, strategies, methods and tools must be identified and reflection mechanisms and discourses initiated via social media. In connection with digital trends (virtual reality) and future life realities (such as gig-working, sharing economy), mobility should also be rethought and lived.
So far, the target group "young people" has only been confronted with partial aspects of the mobility revolution (sharing, cycling, app use, learning videos), etc... However, behavioral changes need an overall view and understanding of future scenarios to select those change options corresponding to the respective lifestyle and self-image. Together with the target group, the project aims to identify their scope for action and thus contribute to behavioral changes that support the mobility transition. The intended qualitative improvements primarily concern the more substantial involvement of the target group of 15-24-year-olds in future mobility scenarios and the expansion of their options for action in their choice of mobility through the inclusion of digital trends. The results should, for example, enable generally valid statements on the target group of 15-24-year-olds in Austria for the calculation and improvement of market potentials e.g., sharing or services. By involving experts, new insights should be gained in mobility awareness-raising, behavioral changes, and activation strategies.
Vocational training in renewable energy in Burkina Faso:
Mr. Robert Moosbrugger from the Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences presented an Austrian Development Cooperation (ADA) project and its evaluation in Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is landlocked in the West African Sahel region with a growing national economy (5.7 percent in 2019). After the overthrow of long-time president Blaise Compaoré and the suppression of a coup attempt, democratic elections in late 2015 were peaceful. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was elected as the new president. Economically, exports of raw materials (gold, cotton) in particular boosted the gross domestic product.
Nevertheless, the fall in international prices and the political crises led to an economic crisis for large parts of the population in recent years. The majority of the working population in Burkina Faso still works in agriculture. Most of the time, the harvest covers the country's own needs and fluctuates greatly due to difficult climatic conditions. The effects of climate change are also increasingly being felt. Although Burkina Faso has made progress in the last 20 years - for example, in primary education and drinking water supply - almost half of the more than 20 million inhabitants live below the poverty line. Austria, therefore actively supports the Burkinabe government in reducing poverty and combating the effects of a wide range of emergencies - for example, by providing food or addressing the immense challenge of internally displaced persons. Improving education and increasing productivity are among the country's most significant challenges.
The Austrian Development Agency, therefore, promotes practical and needs-oriented vocational training. Per capita, CO2 emissions in Burkina Faso are thirty times lower than in Austria, with twice the population. The current annual electricity production is 1.24 TWh. In comparison, Austria produces around 72 TWh of electricity per year. Energy poverty is a major challenge in Burkina Faso. The electrification rate for the whole country is 22.8%, with huge differences between the urban 68.8% and rural 5%. Burkina Faso has immense potential for solar energy. For better illustration, it should be mentioned that twice as much electricity could be produced in Burkina Faso with the same number of PV modules as in Austria. In vocational education and training, this results in significant challenges. Both structural problems in the sense of scarcity of resources, unequal access, little coordination, and a hardly existing dual vocational training. But also external inefficiencies such as a low reference to practice in training and an internal inefficiency such as in the low qualification of teaching staff. The project aims to actively and sustainably support the energy transition in Burkina Faso and to accompany and link it with vocational training. To improve access to energy, better training, more jobs, and public access to vocational training and increase quality. So far, the project, which will run until the end of 2021, has introduced specialization in "electricity and installation of solar systems," including curricula in eight vocational high schools. The teaching staff has been trained, teaching materials have been updated, and solar systems for practical training have been delivered and installed. More schools are to follow in the future. Women, in particular, are very interested but, unfortunately, still underrepresented. Joint efforts are needed to motivate companies to accept and promote more women.
Community Project on Photovoltaic in Ghana:
Gudrun Bruckner from the association "uwa" presented her initiative "Light for Kwanta". The electricity grid in Ghana is very unreliable and unsafe. Time and again, some outages can last from hours to whole days or rationing, as not enough energy is produced for the entire population. For the inhabitants of the village, a permanent power supply is enormously important, especially in the "Awudome Kwanta Library," to be able to use the only publicly accessible computer and to be able to teach without restrictions and with light. Therefore, the association's great concern was to guarantee the power supply, especially in this building. In February 2017, chairwoman Gudrun Bruckner traveled to Ghana with a group of motivated students to install a photovoltaic system on the library's roof. They were supported by an experienced solar technology expert from Austria. Through active contact with a company in Ghana, the photovoltaic modules were purchased locally to strengthen the local economy and use the local producers' experience in developing heat-resistant modules for the Ghanaian climate. The necessary technology is also available in Ghana - but it is not easy to reach for the general population and is financially unaffordable. The most important thing was not only to give the inhabitants of "Awudome Kwanta" access to solar technology but also to provide them with the necessary know-how to maintain the system on their own and possibly to be able to set up further systems themselves in the future. In addition, the awareness of the population for renewable energies should be strengthened.
A Global Perspective and the UNIDO BLOOM Project:
Martin Lugmayr presented a supra-regional view from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) perspective and present initiatives at a global level. Mr. Lugmayr presented the BLOOM Cluster program. BLOOM is hosted by the Barbados Investment & Development Corporation. It is being set up in partnership with the Ministry of International Business and Industry (MIBI) and technical support from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). The cluster will receive financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded project "Strategic Platform to Promote Sustainable Energy Technology Innovation, Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship in Barbados" in its initial phase. The project aims to increase the participation of Barbadian companies in the expanding global value chains for the production and service of sustainable energy. More information on the project can be found here. The project is part of UNIDO's regional cleantech cluster program under the GN-SEC. In partnership with regional economic communities, the program supports Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to establish cleantech clusters and associations.
Accelerating the energy transition via sailboat along the African continent:
Michael Puttinger described his experiences and adventures during his journey and circumnavigation of the African continent and his cooperation in energy projects in various countries. His travels and activities in the energy sector have taken him to Egypt, Maldives, Seychelles, Mozambique, and currently South Africa. Other future country stops will be Namibia, Gambia, and Senegal. He concludes that it always takes needs-based measures to implement projects. Involving the local population and raising awareness are among the key factors for a successful project. If you would like to follow Mr. Puttinger and his exciting projects and experiences, you are welcome to do so via his website www.wind-driven.com.
Mag.a Susanne Wolf-Eberl, Managing Director, Research & Data Competence OG
Mag. Robert Moosbrugger, MSc MSc, - FH Vorarlberg
Gudrun Bruckner, Chairperson, We are UWA
Martin Lugmayr, Sustainable Energy expert, UNIDO
Dipl. Ing. Michael Puttinger, SEKEM ENERGY GmbH