In 2017, I hosted a series of dialogue sessions for the province of Zeeland with 26 young people as part of a large scale roundtable process around the energy transition. The province wanted to include the voice of young people, which I applaud enormously. The next generation will experience the consequences of a fossil fuel driven economy even more so than we are doing now. They should be included in the decisions we make now. As I always try to do, I combined bigger societal questions "How can we transition to renewable energy fast enough? And how can we make sure that transition is just?" with a personal learning journey by inviting people to reflect on how they relate to the topic and what they are learning about themselves and their role through this process.
The first session we focused on the topic itself: what are their opinions about the energy transition? What do they worry about, what opportunities do they see? What wisdom can they share with decision makers? We began drafting ideas and suggestions.
In the second session we continued this exploration, working in small groups on specific topics. I invited a theater maker and friend of mine, Dorothy Blokland to work with the group on their stage presence, performance and body language. We used the final session to finalise and practice their presentations. They presented the results of their discussions at the Day of the Energy-Dialogue.
The roundtables of 'Energy-Dialogue' (Energiedialoog) are connected to the 'Regional Energy Strategy' that each province of the Netherlands needs to develop based on the Paris agreements. It aims to integrate multiple perspectives to the challenge of shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, allowing stakeholders to forge relationships and collaboration were they might have been lacking. A fascinating and needed endeavour.
My job, in collaboration with Finding Roots and youth workers at the province, was to make the voice of young people heard. And I love doing just that.
pictures by Mechteld Jansen