In May 2019, for the first time in the history of Clean Energy Ministerial / Mission Innovation meetings, youth delegates could participate in the proceedings of the international clean energy ministerial meeting in the ancillary programming targeted at the youth, the event's thematic side meetings as well as the actual programme of the ministerial meeting. Two young research scientists from VTT, Petra Raussi and Ville Sahlberg, were selected as Finland's youth delegates.
"Our managers at VTT encouraged us to apply to be youth delegates. During the application process, we introduced ourselves, our work towards a cleaner world and our views on how youth could be involved in the decision-making and development of the society. After being elected, we both completed three community-focused tasks in Finland before participating in the ministerial meeting held in Vancouver", describes Petra Raussi.
Petra gave a lecture at the LUT University on the IEC 61850 standard and the H2020 ERIGrid project, and arranged a "Energy Communities – towards business models for the new normal" workshop at VTT in Espoo.
Ville Sahlberg gave a lecture on small nuclear reactors during Aalto University's "Introduction to Nuclear Energy Technology" course and arranged an interview session with Matthew Mairinger, a youth delegate elected from Canada. Matthew interviewed Ville on the current state of the Finnish nuclear energy sector, and on small reactors.
"In addition to this, we organised an online survey together in order to canvas the opinions of the Finnish youth, in particular, on the climate crisis, intelligent electricity networks and nuclear energy. The popularity of the survey was a surprise. We received over 150 responses from people under 30, and over 40 responses from people little older than that", Ville rejoices.
The survey responses had a very clear message. Over 87% of the people under 30 who took the survey considered climate change to be a serious threat to their generation.
"Getting to participate in the Clean Energy Ministerial was a privilege and an awesome opportunity. In Vancouver, I go to talk with several important actors in the nuclear energy sector on small reactors and on how nuclear energy has tremendous potential as a source of district heating and in the production of industrial process heat and hydrogen, in addition to providing a clean electricity system. On top of it all, the other youth delegates were unbelievably great and productive people. As a minimum, I gained many new acquaintances and contacts around the world during the trip. I also learned a lot about the sectors of the other youth delegates, such as community planning and carbon capture technologies", Ville says.
"Participating in the ministerial meetings was a unique opportunity to witness high-level international dialogue and decision-making from a close distance. The highlights included particularly talking with Bertrand Piccard from Solar Impulse, meeting European Commissioner Carlos Moedas, and participating in the side meeting related to the development of electricity transmission networks. Getting to know the other youth delegates and their work was also great. You can seldom meet such innovative youths from around the world during a single event. The absolute highlight of the youth programme was the two innovation hackathons. In both of them, we were able to come up with unbelievable innovations in just a couple of hours, from a carbon credit application to an urban planning programme for energy systems. The trip not only gave me new knowledge and contacts, but I also gained comprehensive understanding on energy from the perspectives of economy, politics and technology", Petra sums up her experience.
A delegation from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment also participated in the activities of the youth delegates, for example by inviting Petra and Ville together with the other delegates to a short introductory meeting before the actual ministerial meeting.
Participation in the energy revolution is particularly important for the youth, as they will have to live in the world transformed by the consequences of the climate crisis. Young people are productive and innovative, and their participation was a shot in the arm for the ministerial meetings. Indeed, the youth delegates were praised and encouraged for their participation throughout the entire event. As an example, the organiser of one side meeting talked with Petra after the meeting and wished that the youngsters will continue studying and working in the energy sector.
The youth delegates hope that young people will continue to be involved in decision-making and events such as the Clean Energy Ministerial. Particular attention should be given to involving the youth in the countries where the impact of the climate crisis will be the greatest and the resources to affect it the smallest. All youth delegates invited to the Clean Energy Ministerial could not participate, as they did not receive money for the trip from their governments or other parties. This leads to the voices of poorer countries not being heard on the international arena.
The 10th Clean Energy Ministerial / 4th Mission Innovation meeting (CEM10/MI-4)
Clean Energy Ministerial is an international ministerial meeting with the intention to convene the energy sector ministers and ministerial delegations from different countries. CEM promotes the cleaning of the world's energy systems and distributes the results of clean energy initiatives of the countries.
Mission Innovation is an international initiative between 24 countries and the European Union for promoting clean energy solutions. The 2019 Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation ministerial meetings were organised together.
The "CEM/MI Young Leaders Forum" ancillary programme for the youth delegates, and the opportunity for the young people to participate in CEM/MI, were organised by Student Energy. Student Energy is a global non-profit organisation dedicated to creating the next generation of energy sector leaders to change the world towards sustainability. Organised by Student Energy, young people from 60+ countries participated in CEM/MI, their backgrounds varying from start-up entrepreneurs to doctoral students.