Extensive and exciting Board Meeting in Copenhagen

On 2 June, the Steering Board of Nordic Energy Equality Network (NEEN) gathered in Copenhagen at the  Danish Energy Agency to discuss NEEN’s ongoing activities and way forward. After a longer period of digital meetings, Chair of the Steering Board Karina Barnholt Klepper and Vice Chair of the Steering Board Harpa Pétursdóttir, as well as Board Members Nanna Baldvinsdóttir, Petra Berg, Claire Bergaentzlé, Torill Meistad, and Kristina Christensen, together with representatives from Nordic Energy Research Astrid Bratli and Elina Sjölinder, were delighted to see each other live on-site.

“It was great to feel all the creativity and potential we have for doing great things!” says Harpa.

Petra concurs with Harpa.

“It was great to meet everyone again. I agree with Harpa, it was really energizing and inspiring. I’m looking forward to our next moves!”

From the left: Nanna Baldvinsdóttir, Harpa Pétursdóttir, Petra Berg, Claire Bergaentzlé, Elina Sjölinder, Karina Barnholt Klepper, Torill Meistad, Astrid Bratli, and Kristina Christensen.

Eventful outcomes and outlooks

Due to some time having passed since NEEN’s last physical Board Meeting, the group was not only extra excited to get together – they did also have an extra extensive agenda to go through. The many discussion points covered during the meeting are a telltale sign of the grand things that the future holds for NEEN.

Some of the topics addressed included NEEN’s mission and impact, strategic focus, possible collaborations, and events for next year as well as for the fall of 2023. Therefore, the meeting was positively productive and left the participants driven to make further progress on gender equality and women empowerment within the energy sector in the Nordic region and in general.

The Board Meeting took place at the premises of the Danish Energy Agency. Thank you for having us!

NEEN at Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue

On March 29–30, Nordic Energy Research‘s Adviser Astrid Bratli and Commuincations Adviser Elina Sjölinder represented the Nordic Energy Equality Network (NEEN) at the conference Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2023.

Astrid Bratli and Elina Sjölinder

In addition to sessions addressing themes such as pooling knowledge for a just energy transition, how to translate ambition into action, and challenges and opportunities for sustainable development, NEEN was notably invited to two events by Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET). Firstly, NEEN participated in the lunch seminar “Women for the Energy Transition”, which provided a platform for female energy experts to give and receive knowledge and strengthen networks among each other. Secondly, the workshop “Women Energize Women – Women Empowerment in Global Energy Cooperation” brought together international representatives with various areas of expertise, to identify common solutions, possible synergies, and further needed action in the reach for gender mainstreaming.

Inspiring inclusion efforts on international scale

At the workshop, Astrid and Elina gave an introduction to NEEN and shared their experiences from the Nordic countries with women within the energy sector from all over the world, including Brazil, Chile, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam. With such a diverse gathering of female energy expertise, the event generated a great exchange of approaches and understandings.

“It is incredibly inspiring to meet so many resourceful women from all corners of the world who have stood up and passionately championed equality in the energy industry. Though it is clear that progress has been made, the stark reality of personal accounts and grim statistics presented at the conference remind us of the steep climb that still lies ahead to ensure that everyone, regardless of gender, has an equal opportunity to participate and contribute to the industry. We cannot make this shift happen on our own, and as equality is something that benefits us all, it’s clear that only through solidarity and co-operation across borders can we achieve a truly inclusive global energy sector. We are thrilled to be able to participate in a network where we can learn from one another, uplift each other, and strive towards our shared vision of a brighter, more equitable energy future,” says Astrid.

Elina agrees. “Participating in GWNET’s workshop was truly rewarding. Coming from the Nordic region with its relatively advanced equity standards in international terms, it is common to see Nordic practices acting as an example for the rest of the world. The Nordics are role models when it comes to environmental and social sustainability, but true inspiration is found among women who manages to pursue gender equality at the same time as they struggle with other fundamentally important energy issues. For example, to strive for inclusion within the energy sector while also dealing with unavailability of electricity, is really powerful and impressive,” says Elina.

The event concluded with an agreement on meeting again in May, which will be the first networking webinar that follows up on the issues discussed in Berlin.

The Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue is hosted and supported by the German Federal Government and a joint initiative of German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE), German Solar Association (BSW), German Energy Agency (dena) and eclareon.

GWNET’s mission is to empower women in energy through interdisciplinary networking, advocacy, training, and mentoring. GWNET seeks to address the current gender imbalances in the energy sector and to promote gender-sensitive action around the energy transition in all parts of the world.

NEEN’s expert list reaches 100 names!

One of NEEN’s main activities is our continually growing list of female experts within the Nordic energy sector. As of today, we can proudly announce that the expert list has reached a milestone – 100 names are now listed in the network’s collection of energy-knowledgeable women.

The expert list showcases women with experience of great width and depth in connection to energy issues. As such, the list works to promote diversity and equality for an inclusive sustainable energy transition. Some of the latest additions to the list include Maj Dang Trong, Lorea Coronado-Garcia, Julia Hansson, and Anna Volkova.

This is still a small portion of all the female competence and skills within energy related areas. NEEN will continue the ambitions of boosting girls and women with a professional interest in energy!

Check out all of the names on the expert list!

Mind the gap – Gender Equality, Female entrepreneurship, and the Green Transition

On the Water & Gender Day of COP27, 14 November, Nordic Energy Research (funder of Nordic Energy Equality Network) organized the event Mind the gap – Gender Equality, Female entrepreneurship, and the Green Transition. Around 30 people participated in the event, where Astrid Bratli, Adviser at Nordic Energy Research as well as Pilot of Nordic Energy Equality Network, gave a short presentation on NEEN and the report Gender equality in the Nordic energy sector.

“I appreciate the overwhelmingly positive feedback and interest in the report, as well as the fantastic turnout at a gender event at the Nordic pavilion. There were so many people at the pavilion, that the people on stage could hardly fit themselves. There is clearly a great interest in this topic, with a lot of people who find this important, that I actually believe that we can bring about a change faster than we had imagined a couple of years ago,” says Astrid.

Astrid Bratli holding the report Gender equality in the Nordic energy sector.

At the event, the Icelandic Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, gave an opening speech.

Marton Leander Vølstad, Adviser at Nordic Energy Research, moderated the discussions, as speakers Heidi Solba, President and Head of Global Network at Let’s Do It World, Anna-Greta Tsahkna, CEO of Timbeter, Selma Skov Høye, Sustainability Director at Aker Horizons, Marte Rusten, Principal Consultant, Environmental risk and preparedness at DNV, and Malang Sambou Manneh from Mbolo Association, Gambia, shared their experiences and perspectives on the benefits of empowering women.

Can we reach the SDGs without equality in the climate and energy sector?

The speakers were asked whether or not we can reach the Sustainable Development Goals without equality in the climate and energy sector. The response to this question was a resounding “no”.

“The equality is very much part of the SDGs. And I think, as we’ve been discussing, that it’s important to have all good ideas on board to solve the energy transition challenges,” says Marte Rusten.

“We couldn’t achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without gender equality and not only because gender equality is a part of the SDGs, but also because having everyone involved and creating equal opportunities is a central part of everything else – sustainable cities, responsible consumption and production – it goes into a lot of these aspects, not only when it comes to tackling climate change,” says Selma Skov Høye.

Read more about the event here.

Access a recording of the event (starting from 06:31:10) here

NEEN at COP27

Nordic Energy Reserach, funder of NEEN, is organizing the event Mind the gap – Gender Equality, Female entrepreneurship, and the Green Transition at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Astrid Bratli, Adviser at Nordic Energy Research and Pilot of Nordic Energy Equality Network, will present NEEN at the event, and discuss equality, entrepreneurship and inclusion in climate actions with other speakers.

Time and place

The event takes place on 14 November, the Water & Gender Day of COP27, at 15.0016.00 (CET).

The event is hosted at the Nordic Pavillion (Area C, P90) as well as livestreamed. Access the livestream here.

Speakers

  • Astrid Bratli, Adviser at Nordic Energy Research and Pilot of Nordic Energy Equality Network
  • Selma Skov Høye, Sustainability Director at Aker Horizon 
  • Heidi Solba, President and Head of Global Network, Let’s Do It World 
  • Anna-Greta Tsahkna, CEO of Timbeter
  • Marte Rusten, Principal Consultant, Environmental risk and preparedness at DNV
  • Rachel Asante-Owusu (TBC), Programme Officer, Global Business and Biodiversity Programme. International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • Marton Leander Vølstad, Adviser at Nordic Energy Research (Moderator)

Event description

Can we reach the Sustainable Development Goals without equality in the climate and energy sector?

The Nordic countries are often ranked as among the most gender-equal in the world. However, gaps remain. Join the discussions on the just transition across generations and countries! Is a just transition possible when everyone is not included?

Empowering Energy Equality Conference closed

The Nordic Energy Equality Conference 2022 closed on June 15th, after two days of high-spirited and thoughtful dialogues. 50 people had signed up for the conference, and participants delved into gender balance, diversity, and inclusion in the Nordic energy sector, as keynote speakers, panel discussions, Q&As, and networking took place by the shore in Oslo.

The Nordic Energy Equality Conference 2022 was located at SALT in Oslo.

Equality and diversity are crucial parts of a sustainable energy transition. Diversity brings creativity, and creativity is a much-needed component in solving the climate crisis. However, women are underrepresented in the energy sector according to the Gender equality in the Nordic energy sector report. Therefore, the Nordic Energy Equality Conference focused on concrete actions to accomplish social as well as green sustainability. The objective of gathering different voices and creating prospects of inclusion was fulfilled thanks to all the people who took part in the conference. And on top of all the analytical and reflective discussions at the conference, it brought about a fair share of amusement and laughter too.

The Nordic Energy Equality conference was fortunate with great weather. Elizabeth Lokken (left) and Maj Dang Trong (right) enjoy the sun.

“The Nordic Energy Equality conference plays an important role to promote diversity, because it gathers not only diverse people in terms of gender, age, or culture, but also in relation to areas of expertise. There is an inter-disciplinary presence here today, with academics, engineers, and everything in between, who are able to meet and learn from each other at this conference,” says Maj Dang Trong, PhD student at University of Southern Denmark.

“Yes, we are facing big changes, and this conference observes how everyone are affected and affect these changes,” Elizabeth Lokken, Analyst at PA Consulting, adds.

Diversity, inclusion, and belonging

Sarah Hitz, Communication Adviser at Nordic Innovation, found the event inspirational and constructive. “I’m here in support of my colleagues Trine Moa and Hege Guttormsen – two of all the impressive keynote speakers at the conference. One of the most interesting things they brought up was a quote by Agnese Cimdina, Senior Adviser at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Riga, who once said that ‘Diversity is being invited to the table, inclusion is when you are allowed to speak, and belonging is when you are actually being listened to’,” says Sarah.

Sarah Hitz (left) and Frida Frost (right).

Frida Frost, Consultant at DTU Wind and Energy Systems, participated on behalf of Women in Power, a group under IEEE. She enjoyed the new perspectives at the conference, and the notion of taking different generations into account. “Younger people have so much ambition that needs to be seized,” says Frida. “And the audience members showed such great interest by actively asking questions – indicating concern as well as drive. This shows potential and promise when it comes to fulfilling the call for change. Next time, I hope even more participants will join.”

The Nordic Energy Equality Conference was arranged by Nordic Energy Equality Network, which is funded by Nordic Energy Research. We thank all participants for joining and contributing with valuable input!

Watch the recording of day 1

Watch the recording of day 2

Check out the presentations

Full programme

We won’t achieve the energy shift without greater inclusion, cooperation and fast action

Reflections on energy, democracy and climate on the 8th of March 2022.

We have less time than expected. The recently published Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment report is unambiguous about the threat posed by climate change in the future.Thereport tells us that we have considerably less time than anticipated to ensure the stability of our climate, our ecosystems, and our societies. It further strengthens the evidence regarding the detrimental effects human behaviour has had on nature, resulting in unparalleled climate changes. It also highly stresses the significance of keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5°C as every tenth increase above this level strongly intensifies the damaging climate effects.

In addition to the damaging effects on our nature that we are already seeing, the IPCC Working Group II contribution also point out: “In all regions, health impacts often undermine efforts for inclusive development. Women, children, the elderly, Indigenous People, low-income households, and socially marginalized groups within cities, settlements, regions, and countries are the most vulnerable.”

To complex problems, there are complex answers. Climate changes are affecting the whole world at all levels of society – from the energy industry, which must urgently find ways to orient its long-term strategy towards low-carbon solutions to stay competitive, to citizens whom through their consumption choices influence both personal and societal economy. It is up to all of us, without distinctions, to engage this systemic turn and to find appropriate and sustainable solutions. Yet the leadership in transition strategies remains dominated by a small number of actors.

An almost silent female voice.  Although women represent nearly half of the workforce, their leadership in energy and environmental issues remains extremely low. As NEEN reveals in its recent report on the gender gap in the Nordic energy sector, women hold an equal strategic leadership role in only 5% of the Nordic Energy industries.

Agreements on the global level requires implementation on the local level. In the midst of the energy transition, we are facing global unrest and natural disasters of great proportions. Global trade and availability of cheap raw materials and labour in developing countries have weakened nation’s food and energy self-sufficiency, and thus basic security.

These complex, intertwined issues put a tremendous pressure on democracy and trust in institutions. The polarisation of media has become a debated issue. To protect people and nature, as well as the economy, we might need to re-think the idea of vulnerability to include all humans and nature. We might ask ourselves, who has the ultimate right to shape our future?

The core ideas of democracy and diversity are similar, they allow for a variety of perspectives and opinions and strive towards fair consensus. The energy transition requires technical, economic and societal expertise. Traditionally, technology and economic fields have been lacking women.

Europe proves that it can speak with one voice in difficult times. The war started by Putin’s Russia against Ukraine reminds Europeans of the need to build a united, independent energy Europe. In the long run, the energy transition will ensure our true independence and energy security, as well as aid peace in our region through collaboration with our neighbours.

The current cooperation momentum must also serve as an impetus for actions undertaken for our energy transition. It is imperative that the EU fast forward its green transition, accelerating strategic investments in decarbonized energy and critical infrastructure, find more diverse partners, and look more into local opportunities. We have to use this moment to speed up the transition process and build our energy independence, relying on low carbon energies. It is not only vital to preserve nature, but also to preserve our societies and secure inclusive development.

Nordic energy voices: Karina Barnholt Klepper

"By acknowledging that gender equality is important - not only in society in general, but in all facets of the energy transition - and by choosing to strive for it, you make your mindset more inclusive. Inclusive mindsets and diverse workplaces inspire and encourage creativity that may result in bold, new ideas."

How did you end up working with energy issues?

I’ve always been interested in nature and natural sciences, in particular chemistry. At the University of Oslo, I studied in materials chemistry and part of my research was on materials for solar cells. When I worked at Nordic Energy Research, I met and worked with many people and projects looking at the effects of climate change and the absolute necessity of an energy transition. I realized that the energy transition and reaching a carbon neutral society will affect us in ways we still can’t see the full extent of. Climate change and this transition is also a focus area where I am currently working.

What do you do in your current position?

I’m doing research on energy security as part of the basis for societal security. As part of this, we are looking into how climate changes, adaptions and measures will affect our Armed Forces and national security.

What would you say most motivates you in your current work?  What are you most excited or passionate about?

Climate changes is a comprehensive and complex problem that affect us all in one way or another. Transitioning to renewable energy and finding solutions to fight climate changes is a key issue that everyone needs to contribute to. Taking part in finding solutions and making this transition also socially sustainable to preserve our society, is something that I feel strongly about and want to take part in.

As for the Nordic region’s role as a sustainability frontrunner, what are your thoughts on combining green energy and gender equality?

It is necessary to combine these aspects to ensure and implement socially sustainable energy solutions. Cultivating new, holistic energy solutions is a necessity for reaching the climate goals for 2050. We have to put all our brainpower to use to reach these goals, and therefore we need to take rapid action to significantly improve gender equality and diversity in the energy sector. The Nordics need to maintain their economic advantage and keep unemployment low when fossil fuels are phased out. This will in turn preserve our democracy and minimize social differences, which we pride ourselves on. Energy poverty is a real threat to our Nordic society if we do not take well-considered steps in the energy transition. It is society’s weakest that will be at risk, like the elderly, people on benefits and the unemployed young, but also many of our social activities that we currently take for granted may be extensively reduced as a consequence of high energy prices.

Unfortunately, the Nordic countries are no longer the fastest runners in gender equality and we still have not reached equality. We need to pick up the pace: only actual equality will be good enough, and it is well overdue. We can and should be role models within the energy sector as well. We may have the best starting point in the world to achieve these goals.

How can organisations in the energy sector work to improve gender equality?

I think awareness in all parts of an organization is a crucial point. Awareness needs to be raised in all levels of an organization, by bringing forward statistics on gender differences – especially pay gaps and recruitment. One can take active steps to make changes through awareness campaigns, courses, mentoring, and giving attention to role models. Especially reverse mentoring has proven to be especially effective. You have to set goals both for your own organization and for collaborators, implement measures and monitor frequently. Change will not happen by itself!

By acknowledging that gender equality is important – not only in society in general, but in all facets of the energy transition – and by choosing to strive for it, you make your mindset more inclusive. Inclusive mindsets and diverse workplaces inspire and encourage creativity that may result in bold, new ideas. Cultivating and harnessing new ideas will increase your competitiveness, no matter what part of the sector you’re in, and create a more content and motivated workforce. Engaged workers are the best advertisement you can get and will make your workplace more interesting and inclusive for new recruits, which consequently attracts employees from a wider selection of the population.

How can the Nordic countries work together to improve gender equality in the Nordic energy sector?

I think we should follow the Icelandic model and legislation on removing gender pay gaps. As Bjarni Bjarnason, CEO at Reykjavik Energy says in the Gender equality in the Nordic energy sector report: “You decide, and then you do it!” We have to set higher standards for ourselves concerning gender equality and diversity, and make sure to monitor and report on progress. We need to gather even better and more comparable statistics and repeat the Gender equality in the Nordic energy sector report on an annual or biannual basis. To monitor these numbers should feel like a natural part of any reporting, rather than something that is easy to opt out from. What’s more, we need public campaigns showcasing the statistics, designed to change mindsets and raise awareness. I also hope for a joint, Nordic declaration on this topic to increase impact and speed, much like the Helsinki declaration on Nordic Carbon Neutrality in 2019.

Do you have any advice for young women thinking about or entering a career within the energy sector?

It’s a very important sector that needs the perspective from all parts of society to succeed. To contribute to reaching our goals for the future, we need to take a holistic approach to solve the problem. We need collaboration where engineers work with lawyers, energy companies work with academia and so on, and so many roads lead to working with energy topics and achieving a sustainable future. On the way, make sure to seek connections and build a business network. It both makes your work more interesting and may help build a career. It may also open up new, exciting opportunities that you otherwise might not have considered. So figure out what you want to contribute to and work on, take the plunge and get to it!

Name: Karina Barnholt Klepper
Position: Senior researcher
Organisation: The Norwegian Research Establishment
Education: PhD in Nanotechnology and materials science
Leisure: Training, gardening, house renovation, knitting and my dog of course :-)

Lunch seminar on Gender equality in the Nordic energy sector – summary

On December 2, Sofia Elamson, Adviser at Nordic Energy Research as well as Secretary of the Nordic Energy Equality Network (NEEN), gave a presentation at a lunch seminar arranged in cooperation with Winnet Sverige

On December 2, Sofia Elamson, Adviser at Nordic Energy Research as well as Secretary of the Nordic Energy Equality Network (NEEN), gave a presentation at a lunch seminar arranged in cooperation with Winnet Sverige. Britt-Marie Torstensson, Chair of Winnet Sverige, welcomed the audience before giving Sofia the floor. As a pleasant surprise, the audience was a more international one than expected, which is why Sofia quickly switched from speaking Swedish to English.

Drawing from the results of NEEN’s report Gender equality in the Nordic energy sector, Sofia discussed the statistics and overall status of gender balance and attitudes within energy companies, universities, and energy authorities across the Nordics. Furthermore, she presented recommendations for reaching gender diversity, not only due to equality reasons, but also because it has major benefits from a both present and future perspective – such as better management, boosted innovation, and higher profitability.

Finally, Sofia answered questions asked by the audience. The questions dealt with possibilities for a report such as NEEN’s in the Baltic countries, data about trends, and more concrete policy advise. Sofia was well disposed towards all of these encouraging inquiries, and hopeful for the potential of NEEN’s gender equality report ahead.

In January 2022, a second lunch webinar is planned.

Explore the full presentation here.

Text by Elina Sjölinder.

Women are a minority within the Nordic energy sector

Have you had a chance to read the report Gender equality in the Nordic energy sector yet? Results indicate that Nordic energy companies and universities as well as energy authorities still suffer from a major gender imbalance.

The report on gender equality in the Nordic energy sector is a collaborative project between Nordic Energy Research, Nordic Energy Equality Network and EY. It addresses that status of women within the Nordic energy sector, through information obtained from energy companies, academia and energy authorities. The report’s main finding is that there is a major gender imbalance, where women are a minority throughout the Nordic energy sector. Even though the Nordic region is often praised for equality and inclusion, there are in many ways still a lot of work to be done. The report lays a foundation for monitoring the development of gender balance in the Nordic energy field in the coming years, and aims to have a positive effect on the sector and encourage change.

You can read the report here. Want to share your thoughts on the results? Please join NEEN’s group on LinkedIn to discuss.