LCEDN 6th Conference, 2017: Reflections and Resources
LCEDN Annual Conference 2017: “Equity and Energy Justice”
Reflections and Resources
Two sets of reflections regarding the LCEDN 6th Conference are provided below, the first set were written by Dr Britta Turner (LCEDN) and the second set by Honor Drummond (BSc(hons) Geography student, Loughborough University).
Dr Britta Turner is a post-doctoral research associate working for the LCEDN’s Transforming Energy Access initiative, and was a key member of the conference organisation team. Britta has provided this first set of conference reflections below:
“I previously hadn’t considered the impact of my research on existing inequalities, and it was a useful frame of reference” (LCEDN Conference delegate, 2017)
The concept of Energy Justice has been gaining traction in academic literature in recent years and at the LCEDN we decided to make “Equity and Energy Justice” the theme of our conference this year. Whilst equity and energy justice are issues that are central to the work of the LCEDN, they are not issues that we have previously singled out in this way, so we were of course curious to see how they would fit into the kind of debates we have about low carbon energy in development.
Two things strike me as having been really useful about this focus: Firstly, it created new links to areas of both scholarship and practice that we have not engaged with in much depth before. One of the frequent comments I got during the two days was from people saying how inspiring it was to see delegates and speakers who were not all ‘the usual suspects’. Bringing together ‘new voices’, researchers and practitioners from different disciplines and backgrounds is core business for the LCEDN so I really count this as a bonus. To further strengthen this 90.5% of delegates who filled in our feedback survey said that they had made contact with delegates that they are likely to collaborate with in the future.
Secondly, the focus on equity and energy justice seemed to provide a really useful and engaging frame of reference for researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds as well as practitioners operating in different areas to join in conversation; and a conversation which didn’t just revolve around the moral imperative, but began to engage with the thorny question of how to do or ensure equity and energy justice in practice. A few more quotes from our feedback forms, responding to the question of what key messages delegates took home illustrate this:
“How enterprise and business models may or may not contribute to LCD and energy justice; evidence on gender aspects of energy justice from various, not necessarily similar, case studies”
“The role that energy justice might play in promoting a more social science orientation to energy for development research”
“That equity and justice in energy access are intertwined and go beyond gender equality”
“Strengthened commitment to embed energy projects in communities.”
“That there needs to be a better bridge between practitioners and researchers and that the current research needs to be disseminated better.”
Over the two days at the conference there was more talk about energy injustice than energy justice; what kinds of injustice we can see (procedural and distributional justice issues being most frequently raised), and how these can be avoided? Energy justice then in many ways focused attention on energy access initiatives and projects as social and political transitions. This was clear in the keynote speeches which in different ways challenged us not to get so caught up in technology and infrastructure that we forget about the people; the winners and losers, and about what energy is for. But it was also clear in the debates (and indeed in the feedback comments above) that framing energy for development as a social and political problem did not deter those who are not social scientists. As the conference came to a close I felt that what we had achieved in the two days was not so much a shared and clear definition of what energy justice might look like, but rather a recognition of the need for the principle of it to become an important part of what we are trying to achieve.
Whilst we at the LCEDN are very happy with how this conference went, we recognise that the one thing that we could have done better would have been to provide more time for debate. With this in mind I’d like to draw your attention to the powerpoint presentations we have now uploaded to our website. Looking through power point presentations on their own of course does not compare to hearing the presentation which goes with it, but I would still like to recommend that you have a look at some of these presentations. They are organised according to sessions and presenter surnames, please refer to the programme for full titles. Many of the presentations finish with an email address and an opportunity to ask those questions and make those links that you might not have had the opportunity to do at the conference. A further resource which I would thoroughly recommend is the webinar on “perspectives on energy justice” which followed up on the conference theme. It can be accessed on the following link: http://e4sv.org/events/september-2017-webinar-perspectives-energy-justice/
Honor Drummond is currently a 3rd year BSc(hons) Geography student at Loughborough University and has previously worked on the SONG Solar Nano-Grids project. This is her summary of the two days:
The LCEDN conference brought together a variety of scholars, researchers and businesses from a range of fields to discuss energy justice, inspire new research and reflect on current projects.
In the Governance, Power and Resistance 1 session, there were presentations looking at gender justice, financial justice and power. Dr Noel Healy from Salem State University presented a case about the impacts of coal on indigenous communities in Colombia. In a different session, entrepreneurism and productive uses were explored. Carmen Dienst looked at the need for productive uses of energy as market solutions, followed by an empirical example from Aran Eales in Malawi, which complemented each other well. All of these presented projects from different countries with different themes, however all underpinned with the theme of energy justice – whether it was identifying the injustices, how it is changing, or how it needs to be changed.
One of the key note presentations, given by Professor Joy Clancy, highlighted one of the main justice issues; gender justice. This presentation identified the overall issues of gender justice in energy, not just in the global South, but also the global North. This highlighted issues ranging from employment gaps to energy use and power. This was a theme throughout many presentations, such as Mini Govindan in ‘does technology justice lead to gender justice?’ to which she concluded that technology justice does not lead to gender justice from empirical research so far.
The second day included sessions on ‘energy justice in the context of the SDGs: from theorization to practice’ and ‘business and technology panel – designing in justice’. This included people from different fields, such as Dr Cle-Anne Gabriel from a business approach, to architect Khaiko Makwela-Wali. Dr Cle-Ann noted how the conference restored inspiration to keep working on energy justice from a business approach unlike the usual focus of business which is money oriented. However, Cle-Ann also said we can learn from this approach to make it more successful. Also, Khaiko Makwela-Wali from Green Global Architecture noted how the approach from architecture could provide another source to work with as well as engineers. This is as they are looking to produce the products to provide these services. There were also lawyers, geographers, engineers, anthropologists and policy makers, to name a few. This represents the breadth of people who can be involved within the LCEDN to contribute to promote energy justice, and how they can work together for a more successful outcome.
To conclude the two days of the conference, there was a fuelled discussion to talk about innovative ways of research, new ideas and approaches, and things that need to be addressed in current research. In particular, one idea that received high recognition was from Cle-Anne Gabriel, stating that rather than as researchers creating a hypothesis then finding the problem to research, to actually look at what there is to fix, then create a way to find that.
The full programme of the conference can be viewed here
Presentations of plenary speakers and conference delegates can be accessed below (these are ordered by session):
Vanessa Castán Broto (University College London, UK): “Energy sovereignty in Mozambique: making territories, disciplining populations” – view the plenary here
Joy Clancy (University of Twente, The Netherlands): “Gender equity and energy justice” – view the plenary here
Rosie Day (University of Birmingham, UK): “Durham and back again: reflections after 8 years of energy equity and justice research” – view the plenary here
Benjamin Sovacool (University of Sussex, UK): “Conceptual frameworks and analytical strategies for energy justice” – view the plenary here
Simon Trace (Oxford Policy Management, former CEO at Practical Action): “Energy – achieving technology justice” – view the plenary here
David Woolnough (Department for International Development (DFID), UK): “Equity and energy justice at DFID” – view the plenary here
Communities, Households and Local Energy Governance’ session
Nadeem Chowdhury (United International University, Bangladesh): “Challenges and successes of energy governance in off-grid rural communities in Bangladesh” – view the presentation here
Timotheus Darikwa (University of Limpopo, South Africa): “Energy poverty in peri urban South Africa: prevalence and correlates with vulnerable household characteristics” – view the presentation here
Marcia Montedonico (Energy Centre, FCFM, University of Chile): “Renewable energy technology transfer to rural communities: learning and challenges from the experiences of Ayllu Solar project in Chile” – view the presentation here
Tara Narayanan (University of Michigan, USA): “Alignment of actors: stakeholder perceptions of the solar microgrid sector in Rural India” – view the presentation here
Sarah Wykes (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD)): “Delivering SDG7: a new approach to designing energy services to maximise impact” – view the presentation here
‘Governance, Power and Resistance’ session
Patil Balachandra (Department of Management Studies & Centre for Sustainable Technologies, Indian Institute of Science): “EnergyPlus for empowerment and sustainability” – view the presentation here
Mini Govindan (The Energy and Resources Insitute, India): “Does technology justice lead to gender justice? Insights from Solar PV mini grids in Chhattisgarh, India” – view the presentation here
Shikha Lakhanpal (Asuka Trust for Research in Environment and Ecology, India): “Contesting renewable energy in the Global South: examples from India” – view the presentation here
Yekeen Sanusi (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria): “Exploring marginalisation and exclusion in renewable energy development in Africa” – view the presentation here
Fionagh Thomson (Centre for Theology, Science and Human Flourishing, Notre Dame University, USA): “Carting before the horse: the troublesome reification of new technologies in solving community-based environmental issues” – view the presentation here
‘Business and Technology Panel – Designing Injustice‘ session
Andrew Crossland (Solarcentury and MyGridGB): “Applying interdisciplinary research in industry” – view the presentation here
Molly Hurley-Dupret (Smart Villages): “How can energy access enable livelihood opportunities and empower rural communities?” – view the presentation here
Khaiko Malwela-Wali (Green Globe Architecture Ltd) and Mark Booth (Newcastle University): “Energy facilitated market places: building a sustainable, low carbon value-chain to alleviate rural poverty” – view the presentation here
‘Energy Justice in the Context of the SDGs: From Theorization to Practice‘ session
Helene Ahlborg (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden): “Towards a conceptualisation of power in energy transitions” – view the presentation here
Cle-Anne Gabriel (University of Queensland, Australia): “Distributive justice for renewable energy entrepreneurs” – view the presentation here
Kirsten Jenkins (University of Sussex, UK): “problematizing “whole systems energy justice”” – view the presentation here
Darren McCauley (University of St Andrews, UK): “Energy justice: re-balancing the trilemma of security, poverty and climate change” – view the presentation here
Tedd Moya-Mose and Raphael Heffron (Queen Mary University of London, UK): “Examining energy justice concerns and the international energy charter” – view the presentation here
Analisa Savaresi (University of Stirling, UK): “Justice, equity and the energy transition: lessons from community renewables” – view the presentation here
‘Market Solutions? Entrepreneurialism, Productive Uses and Equity’ session
Aran Eales (Strathclyde University, UK): “Promoting energy justice through productive uses of solar PV in Malawi” – view the presentation here