The CommUnity’s 4th annual flagship event, the CommUnity Days 2018, was held in Lisbon during the last weekend of October and was packed with inspirational talks, game changing ideas, and networking. Almost 200 members of the InnoEnergy CommUnity attended, including industry experts, executives, students, recent graduates, alumni and entrepreneurs. Together, they demonstrated the true potential of what can be accomplished when such motivated individuals are brought together. Fittingly, the venue was the beautiful and historic Lisbon Academy of Sciences, itself an homage to discovery and innovation.
The event kicked off with introductions by Falko Döring, CommUnity Manager, and Claudio Geyken, CommUnity Officer. The inspirational words from these two leaders emphasized the power that we, as the CommUnity, have to effect widespread change. For example, the CommUnity Post already has a reach of 50000 people, and the CommUnity is expanding its member profiles rapidly every year. Furthermore, the CommUnity hosts 60+ annual high-quality events around Europe organized by the members of the CommUnity themselves. As just one example, the Stockholm Energy Days attracted 15 top energy leaders as speakers at the event. The CommUnity creates synergy between the Business Creation, Education, and Innovation areas of InnoEnergy to propel swift and effective energy transition. With this in mind, the CommUnity’s goal of becoming THE energy transition community and attracting global membership outside of InnoEnergy, is not at all hard to imagine.
Following this introduction, attendees were treated to a keynote speech by Mathis Wackernagel, President and Founder of the Global Footprint Network. In his speech, Dr. Wackernagel gave some context to the global sustainability challenges we are facing. For example, to meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s condition of limiting warming to 2°C, we have approximately 20 years of CO2 budget left, reaching zero CO2 emissions no later than 2050. This means that by the time many of us current students are reaching middle age, the world should be completely decarbonized.
Currently, the global ratio of resource demand/regeneration is 1.7. In other words, resource consumption is 70% greater than the actual rate of resource replenishment. Another way to think about this concept is in terms of an Earth Overshoot Day. Currently, Earth Overshoot Day is August 1st, meaning that from January through July we use the same amount of resources as the Earth can generate in one year. Of course, this consumption is not evenly distributed around the globe. For example, Sweden’s overshoot day is April 4th, Spain’s is June 11th, Cuba’s is November 19th, and 20% of the world’s population live in a country that does not overuse its resources. We first surpassed Earth’s biocapacity in the 1960s, and it’s clear that continuing on such a path is not sustainable. We have a choice to make: either reduce our demand or face dire consequences.
What can we do about it? One way to spread awareness of the problem is to have a sort of local and global “fuel gauge” of natural resources. It’s the same concept as how, if you’re driving and you see you’re running on empty, you would take steps to ensure that you do not run out of fuel. A reminder that Earth’s resources are limited, such as the overshoot day concept, keeps us on our toes. Finally, the most important takeaway of the speech is an easy one: replace “should” with “I want”. Don’t say “there should be fewer cars on the road” but rather “I want to live in a city with fewer cars.” This is the kind of active thinking we need to develop in order to be catalysts of change.
The first night capped off with a great dinner in the courtyard of the historic venue, in the company of new and old friends. The CommUnity Days continued the following morning with three parallel breakout sessions: Co-creation Workshops, Making the EU’s 2050 Goals, and Deep Dive Dialogues. I had the pleasure of attending the Deep Dive Dialogues, which featured presentations from Lars Olesen, Richard Davis, and Northvolt. Each presentation inspired smaller breakout sessions to discuss aspects of their talks in depth. After lunch, there was a career fair-style Marketplace to connect attendees with companies, followed by parallel speaker sessions on the topics of Growth & Sustainability, Tech & Human Behavior, and Governance & Individual Responsibility. This choose-your-own-adventure kind of day featured 14 different speakers addressing a wide range of topics. This allowed participants to tailor their experience to their own interests. (Look out for interviews with many of these speakers, coming soon to the CommUnity Post!) Finally, after CommUnity Awards and another delicious dinner came a party in the courtyard of the venue, featuring a jam session and dancing late into the night.
Participants working hard on the EU’s 2050 goals
The last day of the event featured the Idea Accelerator session, during which several attendees pitched an idea that they wanted to explore. The creative and innovative ideas covered a wide range of topics, and some had only popped up during the few days of the event. Participants broke into smaller groups, following the idea that interested them most, and in approximately 40 minutes some brand new business model canvases had been created. Stay tuned as the CommUnity Post follows up on the progress of these ideas in the coming months!
All in all, the CommUnity Days 2018 proved that much can be accomplished when a connected network of motivated individuals is created. During the three days of the event ideas were born, concepts were spread, and valuable connections made. Participants left the event inspired, energised, and excited for the CommUnity Days 2019!