We look back to an energetic and impactful meeting on 7 November. Below you will find a wrap up of the session and next steps. 

Inspiring presentations.
As an introduction, three speakers inspired us with challenges and best practices on the route to public support and community engagement. Koenraad van Hasselt, director corporate communications at TenneT, took us along the road to public acceptance by listening and understanding, demonstrating how a ‘one size fits all approach’ does not work when incorporating community’s interest into projects. 

Hendrik-Jan Bakhuizen, Director Energy Transition at Arcadis, demonstrated several best practices how Arcadis encourages its employees to a personal approach in their engagements with communities. 

Based on the theory for stakeholder management Joop Remmé, assistant professor Strategy at Nyenrode Business University, explained how having the right motives can provide the right starting point for the energy sector to improve its connectedness with society. Joop explained to us the basis for strategy: (1) Who are we?, (2) Where we want to go?, and (3) How to get there? Most organisations skip the first step and jump right to steps two and three. To know the ‘stakes’, of your stakeholders, you should know who you are first! 

You will find the three presentations in our Working Group folder on the Energy Reinvented Community website. 

Group Exercise 
We continued the session by splitting up into two sub-groups in which we (1) identified societal trends that impact the energy sector, (2) brought this back to a top 3 ranking and (3) discussed the position of the energy sector in these trends.  In a plenary setting we discussed the motives for the energy sector to improve its connectedness with society, in terms of what these are and what these should be (based on the theory Joop Remmé presented). 
In general, we witness several transitions, with its own challenges:
  • On a global level: the energy transition towards a clean, affordable and available energy system.
  • On an organization level: new business models and thinking.
  • On a generations/personal level: changing values between the generations; people live longer leading to ageing of the population and overpopulation. 
In our discussion we indicated three important societal trends that impact the energy sector in its role in the energy transition. 

Top 3 societal trends
1. Collective distrust and declining confidence in and support for authorities
  • incl the energy sector and all that represents the established order
  • leads to polarization, and source for populism
  • Hyper-emancipation: a loud minority rules
2. Individualization & decentralisation 
  • Global to local thinking, 
  • revival of communities and communal thinking, 
  • emotional driven and less interest for the facts: ‘I do not agree, so the facts are wrong’ 
  • decentralized governmental tasks, differentiation in interpretation, and citizen participation lead to inequality in rights. 
3. Digitalisation & Computerization
  • supply meets demand via the internet, crowdsourcing 
  • leading to new business models such as Uber and AirBNB, 
  • also, a new way of connecting joint interests, 
  • in an overload of information, need for transparency; shop for facts, underpinning your own opinion
  • manpower becomes less relevant in relation to robots
Motives for public support and community engagement 
Based on the top 3 trends we discussed the current motives for the energy sector and what motives could/should be. Of course, as one participant pointed out, the main motive was and still is sustainability: a better life for all on a healthy planet.  

Next steps:
Based on the proposed Terms of Reference the group decided to give the Working Group a formal project status. Nine people now form a core team, that will drive the WG ambition to put the importance of public support and community engagement on the energy sectors agenda.

The core team members are:

The first meeting of the core team would have taken place this week but had to be cancelled due to severe train delays. We now are targeting for December or early January, when we intend to discuss the way forward. We will keep you informed via the WG news updates.  

Interested to join this working group?
Sign up as a member!
Already member? Select Community Engagement as Working Group I am interested in, at your personal account. Please log in on your personal account.

Other questions or feedback, please contact connie@energyreinventedcommunity.com

Author: Susan Kimkes
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