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How EYEN hacked energy and communication challenges at the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2021

Turning the EU Green Deal into reality is a tricky task. Organising a European hackathon in your free time in a pandemic also is, but EYEN did it and spoke in Brussels at the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW)! So how did we get there?  

The European Youth Energy Network (EYEN) co-organised the – online – European Youth Energy Communication Hackathon – on 25-27 October to work on solutions to enhance consumer engagement with renewables and energy efficiency

Effective communication is a lead character towards the energy transition in a constantly changing landscape of energy, and it could play a much bigger role, if its potential was used. The hackathon was part of the EU Sustainable Energy Week 2021, initiated by the European Commission, and this year EYEN was an official partner of #EUSEW2021! EUSEW is the biggest annual event dedicated to renewables and efficient energy use in Europe. Hackathon participants aged between 18 and 34 tackled energy and communication challenges to enhance consumer engagement and energy efficiency, and the three winners will benefit from a mentorship program of EYEN. EYEN is nothing less than the network uniting energy-focused youth organisations from across Europe and reshaping youth engagement towards a just, empowered and collaborative energy transition. At the closing of the hackathon, Vice President of EYEN, Miguel Mósca, highlighted how youth are eager, risk-takers and innovative and will be taking the leading positions in the future. 

“We as youth are as humble as we are demanding. We are humble because we work hard, we are learning and we are developing our capabilities. We are demanding because we want everyone in this society, from young to old, to also work hard and push for the sustainable energy revolution.” 

Adriana Bascone (Communications Coordinator of EYEN) and Anna Gumbau (Moderator) © Bernal Revert/ BR&U
Miguel Mósca (Vice President of EYEN) © Bernal Revert/ BR&U

Communication is key: Pioneering youth from across Europe with concrete ideas

A platform for individuals from all across Europe to come together in small teams and work on innovative communication solutions with the support of expert mentors: this was created by the 48h digital hackathon. The teams worked on one of several challenges: increasing consumer awareness of energy consumption, of energy efficiency or their carbon footprint;  boosting energy efficiency in buildings; improving and facilitating a dialogue between local policy actors/public authorities and communities on energy transition, and last but not the least developing communication techniques to address opposition and disinformation about Renewable Energy projects.

At the end of the hackathon, they pitched their ideas in front of a jury during the European Youth Energy Day on 28 October. Kadri Simson (Commissioner for Energy), Pierre Schellekens (Head of Unit Communication and Outreach, DG ENER), EYEN and some of the mentors spoke at the event. 

“Successful communication is about people and about data, getting the right information across. It’s about people, because the core of communication is to talk to people and not about people..So talk to your target groups. Communication is also to engage with the motivations and experiences of these people, to listen actively and to push for rapid actions and your solutions in a well-argued, passionate and convincing way. It’s about building strong relationships with dialogue, it’s not necessarily to reach the mass and to convince everyone about your idea from step one. And it’s about finding allies and building a strong community, which we are doing by bringing together all these youth organisations. What we often forget, is how important it is to share stories..and build powerful emotionally-touching narratives”, Adriana Bascone, Communications Coordinator of EYEN at the opening of the hackathon from Brussels.

She also focused on how to understand the root causes of the problem you’re approaching and the system you’re trying to change, in order to find the right leverage point to boost your impact.

Winners of the Hackathon

The first-prize-winner GRID Society worked upon triple engagement of community, companies and employes interaction by developing energy projects. Their goals 1) Community Engagement 2) Motivate the working class to participate in climate mitigation action, 3) Offer finance to energy projects through CSR funds will lead to implementation of  energy projects. 

ENERLOGUE, the winner of the second prize, provided a solution to foster dialogues on energy transition and their idea is supported on three pillars. First develop a digital platform providing data – based information. Second, provide capacity building of policy makers.Third Promotional campaign for citizens. 

The winner of the third prize, INONNEL, presented an idea for an app development. The app would provide the citizens with the opportunity to gain points by integrating sustainable energy efficient  actions in their daily lives. Simply, citizens become sustainable and get rewarded for it. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

We aren’t stopping here – from Brussels to the town halls of Europe

EYEN has a European vision that is rooted in the local context. In the words of Federico Barbieri, president of EYEN, at the European Youth Energy Day: 

“People really want to discuss, be present and interact with the municipalities. So we need to promote local projects, we need to give citizens opportunities to talk about energy efficiency and renewable energy, because the most important thing is to educate citizens. We look forward to welcoming all the three winning projects in our membership program, this is just the beginning. We want to push the local projects and youth organisations, and bring them together to contribute to the energy transition and the policymaking discussion.” 

2022 will be the “European Year of Youth”, proposed by the European Commission who writes“Europe needs the vision, engagement and participation of all young people to build a better future, that is greener, more inclusive and digital.” This means a special emphasis on youth, and EYEN will not leave this moment pass unused. We are already planning something big at #EUSEW2022, so stay tuned for the next European Youth Energy Day next year.

In the meantime, you can rewatch the European Youth Energy Day with EYEN’s Vice President Miguel Mósca now (including some inspiration on how to get engaged from the European to the municipal level) as well the opening speech of our Communications Coordinator Adriana Bascone.   

Did this get you curious about EYEN? Do you want to help us shape youth engagement in the energy transition?  Then find out more about the story of EYEN and contribute. And you can also join us as a partner, member, or volunteer. Find out how.