Columnists: Ruth Mourik, DuneWorks

Published on: 10 Jan 2020

Let’s Learn!

Increasingly people are stating that the energy transition is not a technological transition, but a societal one. How well we are going to be able to transition away from our unsustainable use of energy indeed depends on how we change the way we relate to energy. But not only do we need to change the way we use and produce energy, we also need to do it fast.

The change must be much faster than is happening now, and this leads me to what I think is one of elements needed that are under-focused: We need to start to learn together and build upon one another’s lessons learnt.

For the last couple of years, many of us including my colleagues and I, have been studying how we collaborate, focusing on transformative work which is about creating collaborative networks that reflect on the way they do things, challenging the natural order of things in how we set-up experiments, pilots, and how to upnumber or upscale these.

I found that there already is a lot of research done on monitoring and evaluation of pilots and projects. And we are getting better at working together within these experiments or projects, being more inclusive, appreciating that no one has the bigger picture – diversity is what solves the puzzle.

However, in the energy sector we are collectively still very bad at sharing these lessons. We are even worse at connecting individual projects that are part of a programme and learning across these projects. And what we really fail at is learning about individual projects and translating the lessons learnt into the set-up of the next generation of projects.

This is a symptom of a system that is not necessarily inclined to learn. Many stakeholders, including some policymakers benefit from short termism. And this failure at learning across projects and translating it in new ways of doing is one of the elements impacting the speed we are able to reach in our transition. This year I will work on this learning, and I attempt to plant one of the seeds that will hopefully contribute to the movement that has a long-term sustainability focus, and thus on systemic change.

If you are still in need of a new year’s resolution I invite you to join me. Let’s learn together!


The views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of eceee or any of its members.

Other columns by Ruth Mourik

Jan 2020