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Pilot 2019: Seed Funding Global South - Project Summary

CREATE: Carribbean Research Alternatives for a Transformation in Energy and Economy

  • Department at TU Berlin:  Economic and Infrastructure Policy (WIP)
  • Partner country: Colombia
  • Partner institutions: Universidad del Magdalena/Faculty for Economic and Managerial Sciences, Universidad Nacional de Colombia/Institute for Environmental Sciences (IDEA)
  • Mainly addressed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

    SDG   7:   Affordable and Clean Energy
    SDG   8:   Decent Work and Economic Growth
    SDG 13:   Climate Action
    SDG 17:   Partnerships for the Goals

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The Chair of Economic and Infrastructure Policy (WIP) at TU Berlin with its Research Group CoalExit used the seed funding for the conduction of a workshop, which they organised together with the Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences at the Universidad del Magdalena (FEM/Unimag) in Santa Marta, Colombia. For the so-called CREATE workshop (Caribbean Research Alternatives for a Transformation in Energy and Economy) over 50 key players representing districts affected by coal mining, civil society, labor unions, NGOs as well as science and research - including researchers from all over Colombia - came together. During the workshop affected actors were encouraged to voice their concerns and priorities to some of the leading researchers in Colombia who have worked on areas such as environmental conflicts, socio-ecologic impacts of coal extraction and just energy transition. The overall goal of CREATE was to learn and discuss about formats and possibilities for organizing participative research in the area of coal phase-out and energy transformation in the La Guajira and Cesar regions.

According to communities, NGOs and unions, the most pressing task is to develop accessible pedagogical formats for communities, workers and NGO workers alike to be better informed about the challenges and perspectives linked to the phase-out of fossil fuels.

Results of the CREATE workshop include drafting a proposal on a mobile just-transition academy that brings relevant knowledge on the critical components of a just transition beyond fossil fuels to the territory (e.g. renaturation, productive alternatives, land-rights, etc.). Communities shall be empowered to initiate the transformation of their territories even before established industries decide to do so.

Furthermore, concrete steps will be taken to increase the academic exchange between the WIP/TU Berlin, the FEM/Unimag and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia’s Institute for Environmental Sciences (IDEA), for example by using the format of study trips or research internships. A priority in this context will also be to cover participative research methods and topics which empower and engage communities not as objects, but as subjects and partners of research (e. g. citizen science formats on environmental governance, citizen energy as a productive alternative, etc.).

Finally, the workshop was extremely enriched by established researchers in Colombia's public education system, calling for a stringent ethical code in the relationship towards communities. They expect a cautious awareness on the potential for cooptation of academic and community work by incumbent players in Colombia's coal industry, less interested in the developing transition process.

The CREATE workshop contributed significantly to strengthening collaboration between TU Berlin and its Colombian partners and particularly strengthened the links between TU Berlin's Research Group Coal Exit, the FEM/Unimag and the IDEA/Universidad Nacional de Colombia. The workshop further made a meaningful contribution to SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy, 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, 13 Climate Action, and 17 Partnerships for the Goals.

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