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EduEnergy Conference: Building Bridges for Sustainable Energy Learning, on-line, 15 March 2024

The Edu-Energy Conference: Building Bridges for Sustainable Energy Learning was organised online on 15 March 2024 by the Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe – ERI SEE in cooperation with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ and Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia within the scope of the Renewable Energy Services in Education and Training RESET project. The RESET project is implemented by ERI SEE as a part of a bigger GIZ-led regional project: Green Agenda: Decarbonizing of the Electricity Sector in the Western Balkans region. The projects are commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development – BMZ.

The conference looked at the current challenges in the energy sector and the ways forward, including the development of skills needed for supporting the development of renewable energy sector. The key speakers provided an insight into the state of play and future developments of the energy sector and explored social response to those challenges.

The audience, around 200 participants from the whole region, was greeted by Ljubinko Savić, Secretary of the Association for Energy and Mining of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia; Ivana Marković Bošković, Senior Expert on Green Agenda from Regional Cooperation Council – RCC;  Nicolas Heger, Project Manager, and Ergi Bregasi, advisor, from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ , and Tina Šarić, Director of the Education Reform Initiative of South Eastern Europe – ERI SEE  .

Mr Aleksandar Macura, Co-founder and Program Director, RES Foundation invited the audience to understand that the way in which we produce, transform and consume energy is based on the decisions made many decades ago, and does not facilitate value creation that our societies need today. Mr Macura’s presentation can be accessed here.

Mr Vedad Suljić, Managing Director, Center for Economic, Technological and Environmental Development Sarajevo – CETEOR stated that there is an urgent need to increase capacities of key actors working in sectors related to decarbonization (business representatives, civil servants, educators etc.) to be able to utilize decarbonization related available funds, e.g. own funds, EU funds, private finance. These capacities include education, skills&tools and procedure related to activities relevant to decarbonization effort. To this regard, VET plays a crucial tool and through a systemized and streamlined WB-wide approach the WB economies could build competitive advantage and prevent brain drain in the future. His presentation is available here.

Doc. dr. sc. Branko Ančić, Senior Research Associate, Institute for Social Research in Zagreb emphasized that current situation of overall potential collapse of contemporary civilization is driven with the development of extractivist economy completely dependant on fossil fuel energy. In order to achieve energy transition, contemporary societies, including Western Balkan societies, need to completely change how we produce energy and need to change socio/economic imperative of pursuit of economic growth which consequentially leads to overextraction of natural resources which are limited. Mr Ancic’s presentation is available here.

The EduEnergy conference also hosted an expert panel, moderated by Mr Vedad Suljić, with panelists being:

The panelists exchanged their specific activities of aligning with the new demands of the labour market, caused by the green transition, each in their scope of work and competences: preparation of occupational standards and qualifications in cooperation with the business sector that clearly expresses its needs for new skills for renewable energy; research on which jobs and activities will be needed as a result of the Green transition; developing trainings for adult population through short training programmes; organizing free education for businesses on how to adjust to the requirements of the Green Agenda; enabling dual learning activities for students in companies that deal with green jobs; and development of policies in cooperation with stakeholders, taking into consideration specific national and above-national contexts and requirements.

Ms Tina Šarić, the director of the ERI SEE, on behalf of the organizers summed up the discussions and stated that even though in the Western Balkans there is still dominance of coal and wood fuel as energy source, and problem of low energy efficiency, the region is in the process of Green Transition. She reminded the audience that the issue of green transformation and renewable energy is something that requires strategic decisions and high level of cooperation between different sectors.  Education systems need to align strategically with national and regional green objectives and market demands, and curricula development needs to involved not only education, but also industry and environmental experts and policy makers.

She reminded the participants that with regional strategies and goals agreed on the subject of sustainable energy (Green Agenda for the Western Balkans), cross-border educational programmes become increasingly more important, with potential of developing skills at regional level  in the area of energy efficiency and renewable energy for the whole Western Balkans. Green transition also needs significant social transformation, where reduced consumption would also reduce environmental impact. This is how every individual can contribute to the green transition.


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