Social Innovation for Energy Transitions

Thu 22, October 2020
09:30 - 11:00 CET

In light of the climate crisis, Europe urgently needs a radical transformation of its energy systems. Local governments have long been at the forefront of this change, helping to shape a decentralised and renewable energy future alongside their citizens. This lab will offer a chance to discover new tools and processes for accelerating the energy transition, rooted in the experience of cities participating in three EU-funded projects (SONNET, TOMORROW and UrbanA).

Participants will learn about social innovation in energy transitions. Different approaches to city-level energy transitions – their respective activities, their different operational contexts and the role of local governments as drivers of energy transitions – form the basis for the session. Participants will be able to take inspiration from presentations, interact with each city case study, and take part in discussions between practitioners from city administrations, politics and civil society. 


Part I: Introduction to social innovation in energy transitions 

After a short ice-breaker for participants, the session will start with an introduction to the concept of social innovation in energy transitions. That will be followed by a short presentation on the four projects and pitches of the various case studies in breakout rooms. 

Part II: Supercharging your energy transition process: learning and sharing session 

Each breakout room will be kicked off and run by someone involved in the case study in question. In a world café format, the participants will learn about and discuss the city case studies, the degrees of social innovation and the potential and possible role for local governments. The case studies range from participatory planning approaches with citizens to change management in city administration, and from promoting individual behavioural changes to developing energy transition roadmaps. The discussions will be recorded on MURAL.

Part III: Concluding perspectives and outlook 

The learning and sharing session will end with a summary for each breakout room moderator. The insights generated will be gathered in a short series of one-on-one interviews. Moderators and participants will reflect on these through online polls. With a concluding interaction, participants will be invited to follow the projects most relevant to them.


*** If meaningful numbers of participants registered and are interested, some of our speakers can do their presentation in their mother tongue (i.e. French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian) during a world café phase ***

Olga Krajewska, Junior Officer, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, European Secretariat, Germany.
Tom Meeuws, Deputy mayor, City of Antwerp, Belgium.
Niklas Mischkowski, Officer, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, European Secretariat, Germany.
Tessa de Geus, Researcher, Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT), Netherlands.
Jana Deforche, European Officer Urban Development: Energy & Environment, City of Antwerp, Belgium.
Joao Dinis, Office Coordinator, Empresa Municipal de Ambiente de Cascais (EMAC), City of Cascais, Portugal.
Fabien Dupre, Energy Transition Service - Energy Sobriety, City of Grenoble, France.
Donna Gartland, Chief Executive Officer, Codema - Dublin's Energy Agency, Ireland.
Alejandro Gómez Gil, Energy Innovation Officer, Valencia Climate and Energy, Spain.
Tom Meeuws, Deputy mayor, City of Antwerp, Belgium.
Jason Nardi, Member of the coordination committee, RIPESS Europe, Italy.
Agnes Schönfelder, Director of the Climate Change Strategy Department and CEO of the Climate Action Agency Mannheim, City of Mannheim, Germany.
Participatory Lab - world café, ideas labs
Green Europe
Energy Cities, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability
English (EN)

Session summary

ICLEI Europe and EnergyCities, two city networks, organised this session on Social Innovation for Energy Transitions against the background of the great potential and need for transformative changes in social relations in the energy market, i.e. the way we think and organise energy production and consumption, in Europe. 

The session introduced participants to the concept and meanings of the concept and subsequently went into “supercharging” participants batteries by means of sharing the rich experience from seven speakers, representing six cities and one community and cooperative association, plus the city of Antwerp’s deputy mayor. In total, the eight viewpoints highlighted that energy transitions as part of a societal sustainable development path can only be achieved by using multi-stakeholder dialogue and a collective effort for cooperation - and that the right place to do so is at the level of cities and regions.

Take away message

A recurring theme was communication between stakeholders, and the cities’ potential role of facilitating dialogue between them. As Alejandro Gomez Gil from the City of Valencia summarised it in the final discussion: “Something that is key, and we all agreed, is to bring everyone together and reach the commitment of all the different parts: public, private, civil society, academia [and] to talk about pilots and demonstration projects that have been successful.”

“We have the roadmap, we have our SECAPs [...]. The main goal is now to change social relations, to connect to the local people - don’t wait for the politicians!” (Tom Meeuws, City of Antwerp)

“People are ready for change - is your city administration ready to transform?” (Agnes Schönfelder, City of Mannheim)