Austria wants more women and youth to engage in the energy transition

Austria wants more women and youth to engage in the energy transition

01 Feb 2021

Image credit: Miguel Bruna/unsplash.com

In January 2021, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in collaboration with the Vienna Energy Forum partners, the Global Women's Network for the Energy Transition and the SDG7 Youth Constituency, convened an expert dialogue on how to break the barriers and unlock the opportunities for women and youth.

Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, made the following remarks during the Vienna Energy Forum Virtual Series on 13 January 2021:

As host country and core partner, Austria highly values the Vienna Energy Forum. We continue to support its efforts and work in pushing the development of inclusive and sustainable solutions across the globe.

The new year has only just begun, but we have plenty to do in 2021. Let us use this year to step up our efforts for climate action and to accelerate the energy transition!

The energy transition is the engine which drives our economies out of the economic crisis after the COVID-19 pandemic. Being aware of the major transformations the energy world is going through, we need to rethink our energy systems and reinvent ourselves.

We need to have the courage to change.

Innovative energy technologies will be key. However, its large-scale deployment will require diverse and inclusive ways of thinking.

To exploit its full potential, the renewable energy industry needs to make use of the entire talent pool; that is, to include the talents of women, youth, minorities and others who are often left outside to fill its growing demand for skills.

Today, the energy sector is still male-dominated. But studies have shown that women are increasingly attracted to renewables. Let us not miss this momentum for change.

Engaging women and youth in the energy transition offers numerous co-benefits to the sector. By including them in the energy transition, we make sure that the future energy systems are fit for a modern society.

As one of few female energy ministers worldwide, I am hopeful that with the help of international cooperation, there will be many more young female energy leaders to follow.

The increasing visibility of women in the renewable energy sector is highly welcome, but much remains to be done, particularly in leadership positions.

International solidarity between women is a key factor to empower women in energy. The Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET) plays an active part in the empowerment process. Such international networks have my full support. It is when we come together and support one another that we can bring about societal change.

The Austrian Government has established a Girls‘ Day, an annual action day for young girls to increase their interest in STEM jobs – science, technology, engineering, and math.

The Austrian Government has also put together a dedicated database of female experts in technology, including energy, called FEMtech. It is Austria’s biggest database for female experts with more than 2,000 females in 130 fields included. The database is a great source for private companies in finding suitable female experts.

We have a collective responsibility for our world and for future generations. We believe in multilateralism. Therefore, Austria will continue to forge strong international energy partnerships by seeking dialogue and building consensus for effective cooperation.

I look forward to hearing your ideas on how we can overcome existing barriers that women and young people face in accessing the energy sector.

Always keep in mind: the best way to predict the future of energy is by shaping it.

Gender

Recognizing that the full and active engagement and leadership of women and youth is central to the achievement of the clean energy transition and the advancement of sustainable development, the Vienna Energy Forum partners call on organizations, governments, private sector, academia and civil society to take urgent action. The partners issued this call for action.

For more information:

Email: vef@unido.org

Twitter: @ForumVienna