Three Future Tracks – Gathering Ideas to Accelerate the Green Transition

by Sofia Shabafrouz, GIZ / EUKI

At the EUKI conference, three inspirational speeches were delivered by Annika Hedberg, Leonora Grcheva and Sven Egenter, providing the EUKICON22 audience with food for thought and discussion in the subsequent EUKI Future Labs.

Published: 04 October 2022

Annika Hedberg: Sustainable Prosperity for Europe – Linkages across policy areas to foster the green transition

Annika Hedberg from the European Policy Centre (EPC) talked about the importance of the European Green Deal as a light to guide us through times of crises. For its goals to be achieved, Hedberg stressed the need for leadership, implementation, and enforcement of the agreed rules within the European Union (EU). She addressed the EUKI community in the audience as ‘agents of change’. They had a role to play in collaboration and connection that transcended borders: ‘We must learn from good practices, share lessons learned, and discuss challenges and ways to address them when delivering on projects. We need to scale up good results.’ She thus called for EUKI practitioners to step up their involvement in order to make their voices heard in the Brussels bubble. They should contact EU policy-makers, as well as the wider community, whether NGOs or think tanks such as the European Policy Centre. She said they were keen to hear about obstacles on the ground and to hear success stories of projects that supported climate action while delivering benefits to people and businesses. Additionally, Hedberg recommended taking a closer look at the political ambitions behind packages such as the EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ to align project goals and deliverables with ongoing developments. She also mentioned the use of data and digital solutions and the need to couple the uptake of renewables with a circular economy as two debates worth following in Brussels. She mentioned Political Europe, EUobserver and Euractiv in this context as sources of detailed coverage of EU politics.

Panellists of the discussion “Three Future Tracks”: Annika Hedberg (European Policy Center), Sven Egenter (Clean Energy Wire) and Leonora Grcheva (Doughnut Economics Action Lab); Photos © Annika Hedberg, Detlef Eden & Leonora Grcheva

Leonora Grcheva: New ways of thinking – Doughnut economics as a promising framework for local action

Leonora Grcheva from the Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL) presented her lab as part of an emerging global movement of new and holistic economic thought and action. The movement was inspired by economist Kate Raworth’s book, which outlined a new economic model going beyond 20th century ideas with their vision for progress limited to the growth of gross domestic product. Grcheva explained the core idea of doughnut economics: a model in the form of a doughnut – two concentric circles that can be viewed as a compass for human prosperity. The social foundation is located on the inside of the circles, the ecological ceiling on the outside, and the safe and just space for humanity in the middle. ‘We want to meet the needs of all people within the means of the living planet,’ continued Grcheva. But we haven’t been doing it well enough, she continued, leading to us overshooting multiple planetary boundaries.

‘At the Doughnut Economics Action Lab, we support the work of change-makers around the world finding different ways to put doughnut economics into practice,’ explained Grcheva. These change-makers included mayors, teachers, artists, businesses and policy-makers. The lab told their stories and provided tools and resources.

Sven Egenter: How communication accelerates transition

Sven Egenter from Clean Energy Wire (CLEW) delivered a speech on the importance of rightly communicating climate and energy issues. Are we talking in the right way to the right people in the right form at the right time? This was a question that Egenter and his colleagues at – another project he is heading – often asked themselves. When communicating about projects, he shared, it was important to bear in mind different ways of looking at and feeling about the world. When it came to climate change, he said, most people were feeling helpless, disappointed, angry and afraid; mostly emotions that cause people to close themselves off in most cases. As such, some people found words like ‘change’ or ‘transition’ threatening. Stories of success could be key to unlocking a conversation about moving forward and to addressing those feelings, he pointed out. ‘Think about how your story, how your project can relate to the people on the other side,’ Egenter told the EUKI community. Also, when talking to journalists, he stressed, it was best to put oneself in their shoes. ‘Journalists are not your cheerleaders or public relations agency. What they need is expertise,’ he said. He suggested writing fewer press releases and instead investing more in relationships with local journalists in order to provide this expertise on climate-related subjects. The success stories and background expertise were two powerful tools that could accelerate the implementation and amplify the impact of projects, and also, more broadly, further drive the shift to climate neutrality. Egenter concluded his speech by sharing his dream of a platform for compiling all of these climate action success stories from Europe for journalists.