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Samsø Energy Academy is still enabling change

Sustainability should also be digital – therefore we have decided to occasionally recycle some of the good stories which never reached this homepage in 2017 but were boosted on other digital platforms and formats such as our newsletter, The Positive Change and social medias. 

Since enabling change is going to be one of our core goals in 2018 we thought it would be great to bring this story from winter 2017 where Søren Hermansen visited Japan and Australia:

An important area of the Energy Academy’s work is creating relations which result in knowledge sharing and cooperation between large and small organisations around the world. There are many organisations seeking advice on how to plan for sustainable development and planning their energy resources in order to benefit the local society.

Samsø Energy Academy CEO Søren Hermansen is heading the department that includes an international project funded by KR Foundation, with partner organisations in Australia, Japan, and the United States. Part of the Energy Academy’s roll in the project is to introduce the partner organisations to the Pioneer Guide and the Pioneer Anthology. The project’s kick-off meeting was held in Fukushima, Japan, where the 2011 earthquake resulted in a nuclear power accident. Six years after the accident, the local area is still affected. People no longer travel to Fukushima, and large areas are deserted. The Japanese partner organisation, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policy, is working to establish Community Power in numerous Japanese municipalities. Søren Hermansen is involved in Fukushima’s New Energy Foundation, which supports local energy projects. The project’s Australian partner is involved in two states, Victoria and South Australia, where Samsø Energy Academy met with politicians, participated in conferences, and in particular held workshops with local citizens.

Despite the great geographic distance between Denmark and Australia, the Energy Academy has seen once again that local communities around the world face the same global challenges:

There is a great, almost irresistible force that draws people to cities, resulting in rural areas losing their autonomy. The remaining inhabitants want action, yet often don’t know where to start, and therefore re-establishing local ownership was a central element of the Australian workshops held by Samsø Energy Academy.

That’s where Samsø started 20 years ago, by putting together a master energy plan that provided totality and direction for its citizens, asking them to put into words their challenges, successes, and mistakes. Based on this, we came up with specific tools to launch change and make possible the often unmanageable process of going from thought to action. Australia is a country with a very centralised energy distribution based on coal. Implementing renewable energy is one of the ways Australians in rural areas can revive their communities and regain control over their own situation.

Some of the people we met in Australia we knew of ahead of time, others not. At all the meetings with local inhabitants, we placed a lot of emphasis on the human factor, which plays an essential role in our approach: Who are they? What are their feelings? What is the mood? Understanding these things helps us provide people with tools that fit their specific situation.

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