The Vision produced by the Italian R&Dialogue Council is a multimedia document to inspire energy innovation through ideas, images, music and taste… It condenses the rich exchange on energy futures which took place in the Italian Council and during meetings with citizens and stakeholders.
All along the Italian R&Dialogue action the visionary dimension was given voice, to understand the values and goals considered to be desirable by the group, in order to achieve a low carbon society. What does it mean working for a low carbon society? Why do we need to develop a Vision? How can dialogue help?
Reflecting on these issues and confronting themselves with a real case study, the hypothesis of transformation of a rural village into a sustainable community, the Italian participants of R&Dialogue have expressed and defined the steps that can lead us through the energy transition, to achieve the goal of a low carbon society: an inclusive process that develops world class collaboration; the comprehension of local contexts through dialogue, enabling anyone in the world to access the benefits of sustainable energy; the development of research, tools and database that can support the efforts of the communities in managing energy use and production and much more.
The document is but a first step to help others join the visioning exercise and the implementation of the Vision. Download the online version and enjoy reading, let yourself be taken away by songs and videos: as the founder of Dragon Dreaming, John Croft, would put it, dreaming together is at the foundations of any successful project.
The Italian Vision is available both in the online version in English and Italian (the files can be downloaded on the Italian R&Dialogue website or on the R&Dialogue website) and in the printable and printed version, for files or copies please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the afternoon’s panel session, Olivia Woolley (University of Aberdeen), Marcus van Leeuwen (NWO – the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) and Gert-Jan van der Panne (R&Dialogue) entered in a dialogue with the public. The topic was the social dimension of the energy transition and the role social sciences and humanities can play. Better and more frequent cooperation between the different actors in the energy transition appeared as a crucial element, to which SSH can contribute.
We discussed the need to enhance our understanding of behaviour of relevant actors that play a role in a sustainable energy transition and identify the barriers and enablers for realising the energy transition. The audience was curious about the role of the European Commission in this and how to set up such multi-actor dialogues. The R&Dialogue website provides many insights and practical experiences from all over Europe with regard to energy transition dialogues between many different stakeholders.
The event on 14 June 2016 in the Solvay Library in Brussels started earlier that day with an opening by Gerd Schönwalder. Dr. Schönwalder is strategic policy maker at the European Commissions’s DG Research and Innovation focusing on energy strategy. He emphasized that the transition to a low carbon energy system is a complex societal problem, and not merely a technical problem.
Next, Linda Steg, professor of Environmental Psychology at the University of Groningen and PERSON coordinator, presented the PERSON platform to the wider audience. She discussed the mission of PERSON to unite and advise on European top-class SSH energy research on the human dimensions of sustainable energy transition to promote a secure, clean and efficient energy system.
After the coffee break, William D’Haeseleer, professor of engineering science and director of the KU Leuven Energy Institute, Sverker Jagers, professor of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg and Sabine Pahl, associate professor in Psychology at Plymouth University highlighted the essential contributions that SSH can make in energy research.
As it can easily be imagined, many of the challenges lay in the different backgrounds and beliefs of the participants. From the very beginning they agreed about the need to transform the energy system, but had very different opinions on how this should happen.
It was also difficult to understand how dialogue could help with such complicated and complex issues, which involve so many vested interests, until everyone started to realise how transformative dialogue could be. The participants experienced that they themselves went through a transformation, starting to see things in a different way.
The R&Dialogue Italy Discussion Paper represents the effort to express the problems discussed from the angle of the new perspectives emerging through the group exchange. It not only proposes precise themes for furthering the dialogue, but can also be a tool for other stakeholders to understand how to progress more quickly towards reciprocal understanding. In this respect, today we can say that dialogue is a real and important opportunity for advancing our democracy.
This is why this Discussion Paper is a must read for the stakeholders who want to raise their own awareness on the nature of problems that need to progressively find a solution, if we want to work together for the development of the energy system and the construction of the Energy Union.
The transition to a low-carbon energy system poses a complex set of challenges for policy, technology, businesses and academia. The PERSON-platform aims to bring crucial knowledge from Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) into this debate. On 14 June 2016, the PERSON-platform organises the session “Innovative Social Sciences and Humanities perspectives on Energy Transitions”. Next to representatives from research, technology and the European Commission, R&Dialogue coordinator Gert-Jan van der Panne will be on the panel.
Although the R&Dialogue project officially ended in November 2015, project members continue work on the dialogue and the societal dimension of the energy transition. The presence of R&Dialogue in the European Sustainable Energy Week’s PERSON-session is a good example of this. Registration for this event is free and available via this link.
The dialogue on stage and with the public will cover how the necessary steps towards energy transition can only reach the next level when cross-overs and interlinks are explored.
Date: Tuesday 14 June 2016, 9:30 to 16:30
Location: Rue Belliard 137 / Belliardstraat 137, Brussels (BE)
Increase the visibility of our carbon footprint, and create more inclusive spaces for energy dialogue. These are some of the recommendations in the R&Dialogue vision and action plan for a low-carbon society.
The vision and action plan builds upon the learnings in a dialogue analysis based on the project’s national low-carbon dialgues in ten European countries. Some of the principles that have been applied are transparency of decision-making processes, respectful dialogue between a large number of stakeholders and citizens, and flexible approaches to dialogue.
To put these principles in practice, the R&Dialogue project suggests several actions. One is a “Let’s talk about carbon” train travel through Europe. This train would exhibit low-carbon solutions and set up events such as festivals and debates along its path. Another suggestion is to improve product labelling and distribute so-called smart meters for power usage, in order to make consumers more aware of their consumption.
The action plan also includes recommendations for the EU’s low-carbon research. One suggestion is to allocate more EU funds to the roll-out of technologies that already exist, but which are not yet widespread in Europe (e.g. electric vehicles). Another is that the EU should involve civil society more in the design of low-carbon funding programme criteria, scope and priorities.