Building up EYEN
How we created the European Youth Energy Network to unite energy-focused youth organisations from across Europe and reshape youth engagement towards a just, empowered and collaborative energy transition.
We started building up EYEN in 2020, but our story begins before that. Are you curious to find out how the seeds of this international network were planted? Well, three engaged youth from three different European countries met at a conference in Canada (close by, right?), identified a problem around youth engagement and decided to solve it together.
Three people with a big idea - where it all started
But there was a problem. The youth delegates couldn’t enter the main ministerial meetings – an eye-opening experience for them! So while attending the youth programme, they met with policymakers, including energy-savvy representatives of the European Commission. Through those conversations, they realised one thing: that we really need direct youth participation in policymaking beyond on-camera appearances and shallow exchanges of words! The general lack of youth participation in high-level debates and ministerial meetings concerning the European energy transition had to stop. They decided that it was time to create an organisation to catalyse youth engagement with the European energy transition.
Back to Europe - what’s next?
• Summer 2019 •
1,2,3 - go! Collaboration with the European Commission kicked-off
• December 2019 •
The pandemic couldn’t stop us - new relationships across continents
• April 2020 •
As the pandemic reached Europe and changed the world as we knew it, it challenged the network that was just being born. The EYEN-team at that time decided to not give up, and continued to work hard online, away from each other, to turn the idea into reality! And we were not alone in it. We got contacted by Beniamin Strzelecki, one of the creators and current Global Focal Points of the SDG7 Youth Constituency (SDG7 YC). The SDG7 YC, as the energy working group of the Major Group for Children and Youth, is the formal and dedicated youth engagement mechanism in UN and UN-related sustainable development processes focused on energy.
EYEN co-founders represent European youth
• May 2020 •
Beniamin had a proposal for Luciana and Federico: to become part of the coordination team of the SDG7 Youth Constituency as Regional Focal Points for Europe. And they accepted. Their responsibility included building region-specific networks of youth involved in the renewable energy sector, facilitating youth participation in energy-related processes as well as exchanging opportunities and know-how relevant to youth in the sector. More precisely, their mandate was to grow EYEN as a regional youth empowerment network, and build meaningful relationships mainly within the European Union. Following the end of Federico and Luciana’s term in 2021, EYEN volunteer Amélie Girard was appointed as Regional Focal Point for Europe.
How the European Youth Energy Day strengthened the idea of EYEN
• June 2020 •
Time for getting more energy changemakers on the team and strategizing
• from September 2020 onwards •
In September 2020, serious work started and a full working team was formed. And it was a truly special team, cause remember we’re a network of networks? Many of the volunteers who came together in EYEN were part of an energy-focused youth organisation. Organisations that would later become our Founding Members and Partners thanks to the contribution of these young energy changemakers. Thank you YES-Europe, YES-DC, PIaneta, ELIES, Student Energy and SDG7 Youth Constituency UNMGCY! Later on in January 2021, EYEN kicked off a comprehensive strategy process leading to the EYEN theory of change, mapping out its endgame and activities and proceeding toward EYEN legal establishment as an International Non-Profit Organisation headquartered in Brussels.
The Climate Pact Launch: bridge the gaps towards effective youth engagement!
• December 2020 •
Key Challenges identified in “Gaps and ideas for youth engagement” position paper
Inefficient information and knowledge sharing about climate and energy issues leads to lack of awareness in the young generations
Lack of skills and resources is a barrier to effective engagement with official entities in the Energy sector (governments, international organisations, multinational companies, etc.)
Tokenism and non-inclusive youth representation in non-youth spaces/dialogues prevent youth climate action to get the right recognition
International cooperation will be key to an effective mobilisation of youth and the available resources to them (within and across European borders)
How we started into the second year of pandemic (not that bad)
• January 2021 •
NEW: EYEN’s project to enable engagement in policymaking
• March 2021 •
Back at the Clean Energy Ministerial: hydrogen, youth and women empowerment
• June 2021 •
The official launch of EYEN - happy birthday to us!
• 29th June 2021 •
We officially launched EYEN on 29th June at an online event with the blessing of Ditte Juul Jørgensen, Director General for Energy of the European Commission (DG ENER), Gauri Singh, IRENA Deputy Director-General, and Prof. Dr. Frank Gielen, EIT InnoEnergy Education Director. The Launch Event aimed to position EYEN as a key player in youth engagement for the energy sector and introduced us to a wide range of EU stakeholders. It also kick-started dialogues between EYEN and its potential members and partners. You can watch the recording of the event here.
What happened since our launch
Finally united! #youthenergy-team power in Bella Italia
• July 2021 •
Every organisation working remotely needs some offline team power. So in between months of lockdowns and online meetings, we organised a small, spontaneous team weekend in Italy! After discussions around strategy and project management, membership, communication and governance towards our legal establishment in Brussels, the volunteers deserved some multicultural explorations.
The second European Youth Energy Day: driving youth communication for the energy transition
• October 2021 •
Youth for the urban energy transition - a promising new project
• September - November 2021 •
Last but not least, EYEN’s has been leading a project on young citizens’ participation in the urban energy transition (Reshaping the Urban Energy Landscape: Citizens’ Perspective On The Urban Energy Transition). The project started out with a workshop in partnership with REN21, YES-Europe (Young leaders in Energy and Sustainability), Young Energy Specialists & Development Cooperation (YES-DC), BRICS Youth Energy Agency and Student Energy, as part of All4Climate/PreCOP in Milan in September. At the COP26 in Glasgow, we presented its key resuts to a wider audience together with BRICS YEA. Now, we are finalising a workshop structure that can be further developed to support local youth organisations to engage in city-specific political actions.
The European Youth Energy Network goes to COP26
• November 2021 •
Citizen Energy Forum - consumer rights are youth rights
• December 2021 •
We were outspoken, during the annual forum established in 2008 to explore the perspective and role of consumers in the EU energy market towards achieving the clean energy transition. The forum that directly feeds into the work of the European Commission in the energy and consumer policy areas. Speaking in two roundtables of the working group on Just Transitions of the forum and intervening in a parallel session on consumer rights in the gas and district heating sector we pushed for an acknowledgement of youth as a key group in the just transition. And we highlighted the evolving priorities of younger generations with regards to their energy use, as well as issues of home ownership, digitalisation and a broader social inclusion in the energy transition for and of youth.
As by now you must have realised: we are aware of our potential and are working hard to unite energy-focused youth organisations, be their voice and empower their energy changemakers to speak up in the Energy Transition discussion at European level.
Do you want to help us continuing to writing this story? Find out how you can join us.