This post was originally posted on Sara Nyberg’s blog

In this post I want to share about my engagement in the organisation YES-Europe in the last four years and about the Annual Conference in Torino which took place on the 22-23 April. YES-Europe stands for Young Leaders in Energy and Sustainability Europe and has the aim to empower young people to act and lead own initiatives related to energy and sustainability. I really like our tagline “We connect, learn & act around energy and sustainability to shape and transition towards a sustainable future.” Through my engagement I have expanded my network a lot, learned a lot about energy and sustainability topics and developed many different professional skills!

If you don’t have time to read all the content, you can scroll down and read the parts which interest you most :)

What is YES-Europe?

YES-Europe is an organisation for students and young professionals interested in energy and sustainability. Through the organisation, you can get to know other people with similar interests, expand your professional network, organise events and deepen your knowledge on energy and sustainability issues. We welcome people from different backgrounds – from engineering and law to economics and business.

We have a central organisation with a board and different teams – both operational such as communication and finance, and other teams such as the knowledge sharing and policy team. In addition, we have local teams in around 20 countries across Europe (!), coordinated by the Country Representatives (CRs). The local teams have different events, such as organising internal and external activities (e.g. webinars, study visits, networking events), having discussions on trending topics, writing reports and sharing energy related news. See the organisation structure below.

My engagement in YES Europe

I became active the first time when I did an exchange year in Switzerland in 2017-18. Then, I quickly became the university representative for ETH Zürich and with the team we reached out to different potential partners. Then I took a break (because I was very active in PUSH Sweden/ PUSH Sverige, but joined for the Annual Conference in spring 2019 in The Netherlands. See the picture below with photos from the Annual Conferences in 2018 and 2019. It was amazing to get to know people from all over Europe with similar interests and to learn more about different energy topics. Several people asked me whether I wanted to start a local team in Sweden. I was a bit hesitant to it – could I start a group from scratch? – but did it in the end!

In the autumn 2019 I started the Swedish group if YES-Europe, together with Amol Yevalkar and Monico Troilo, and Amols friend Abhimanyu Tyagi soon joined. Together we organised a kick-off in January 2020 with Johanna Lakso from Power Circle, super excited about organising activities locally! However, soon Covid-19 spread Sweden. That didn’t stop us though – during the spring we organised three webinars to which we invited exciting speakers! They spoke about solar power (the CEO Anna Werner of Svensk solenergi), pumped hydro storage, one employee at the big truck manufacturer Scania spoke about their transition away from fossil fuels and a professor in India about urban mobility. In early summer the Covid-situation had improved, so we could finally meet in person for an informal picknick! Because one learning I have is that you can’t just do work all the time, but you need to have fun and do social things as well to make people stay motivated and engaged.

In 2021 we had some new members and organised several events, for networking, about the future of wind power, about Nikola Tesla, and a case workshop with the KTH Live-in lab! (See picture below) I had then handed over the Country Representative role to Walter Deltin and Kathy Fang, in order to focus on my new role as the Country Representative Lead! In my new role I’m coordinating the more than 20 CRs across Europe. Since the summer 2021, co-CR Lead Ezzidden Alsairwan joined me and brought in a lot of fresh ideas, which we implemented. We are onboarding new CRs, organising meetings and coordinate the CR buddy system. I really like to have contact with people from different countries and cultures, and like to support them!

How to do if you want to become a member of YES-Europe?

Fill out the interest form linked from our website! Fill out, which team(s), you’re interested in and you’ll a bit later be contacted by someone in the core team. After you have decided which team you primarily want to be part of, you’ll get a link to the membership form, and voilá!

YES-Europe Annual Conference in Torino 2022!

On the 22-23 April I participated in the Annual Conference in Torino, Italy. It was the first one since 2019 – due to Covid it had been postponed two times. But now it was finally safe enough to organise a conference again, yippieee! There were around 150 participants (!). Many from Torino and other places in Italy, but also from Malta, Austria, France, Belgium, Switzerland, UK and Sweden. We just had to wear masks and keep a bit distance… (Apart from when taking the photo!) The second picture below is from when I presented the local teams of YES-Europe.

I was super happy to meet the people in person, with whom I have worked with since up to a year! I also learned a lot from the panels and workshops. Somehow I got into all workshops and panels related to energy communities (!). Energy communities are connected places of production, storage and consumption of energy, which interact with each other for a more efficient energy system. There are many different types – from apartment buildings with solar PV on the rooftop which are owned by the tenants in the building – to off-grid (or connected) local networks in developing countries which previously haven’t had access to electricity.

Some of the challenges with energy communities are who should pay for the installation of the solar PV cells and the storage. In the apartment building case – how can you convince the tenants to pay for the solar PV systems? How can you adapt the pricing to different income levels of the tenants? And more in general – if the solar PV electricity isn’t enough for everyone, how would you share it among the users? I liked the brainstorming of solutions in the workshops, and especially since we participants had different backgrounds and brought our different perspectives and ideas.

Moderating a panel on biodiversity and climate change

During one of the sessions I wasn’t a participant, but actually moderated a panel on biodiversity and climate change! First, the panelists held presentations about their take on the topic. We learned about the refinement of climate systems modelling to be able to model how climate change will impact a local area, what biodiversity is, why it is important, the causes of biodiversity loss and what can be done to enhance biodiversity. Then, I moderated a discussion on some questions and finally there was time for questions from the audience. See two pictures from the session below.

I really liked having the role of the moderator! I had prepared for it and felt confident doing it. Actually, I held, together with Victor Yip (co-CR of UK) a moderator training for the other moderators, since both of us had experience in moderating from earlier. I had among others moderated a side event at COP26 in Glasgow last year, and earlier a webinar of the UNFCCC Technology Executive Committee. After the panel, I got a lot of positive feedback from the participants, which made me very glad. Thank you!

Do you want to watch the panel I moderated, or other panel discussions from the conference? You can watch all the panel discussions on the YouTube page of YES-Europe!

On the Sunday 24 April we had an internal session for the members of YES-Europe to get to know each other and the teams better. That was very nice! See the photo below from the event. I’m really looking forward to seeing you again in person!

If you have questions about YES-Europe and/or are interested in becoming a member of YES-Europe, don’t hesitate to contact me! We would love to be more members to connect, share knowledge and develop our professional skills!