With the COP26 having just have wrapped up in Glasgow, we were hearing many urgent calls to scale up and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and electricity grid infrastructure. This will be a vital step forward on our pathway towards decarbonisation. At the same time, infrastructure development must be complemented with actions to protect and enhance nature and healthy ecosystems, if we are to achieve our shared global goals for sustainable development.
Against this background, the Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) hosted the hybrid conference "Optimising Energy and Empowering Nature" on Tuesday, 7 December 2021 from 10 am to 2:45 pm. The event was co-organised by ENTSO-E, the European Network of Transmission System Operators, and was be live-streamed from a studio at their Brussels premises.
The conference aimed to bring nature conservation and energy infrastructure representatives on stage together to discuss and promote sound solutions and best practices for a green energy sector that conserves nature while swiftly advancing towards a carbon-free world. Opportunities for improvement in the policy framework were addressed specifically.
To stress the importance of sharing best practices across regions and sectors, the conference was combined with a best practice fair and hosted RGI's award ceremony for the ‘Good Practice of the Year’ award 2021 where the winners of the three categories - Environmental Protection, Communication & Engagement and Technological Innovation & System Integration - were announced.
Keynote speeches were held by:
- Bruno Oberle | Director General, IUCN
- Hervé Laffaye | President, ENTSO-E
- Virginijus Sinkevičius | European Commissioner for the Environment
The three panels of the conference revolved around the following topics:
- Pathways to the future: Planning energy in harmony with biodiversity standards
- Optimising planning to achieve net zero and net biodiversity gain
- Optimising space: Needed actions, roles and responsibilities