When we talk about just energy transitions, we are talking about transforming traditional energy generation and consumption. On the one hand, it is about overcoming mining and the burning of coal and hydrocarbons, putting an end to climate change and repairing the terrible impacts that this industry has had on territories and their inhabitants. At the same time, we must democratise access to renewable energy sources and generation instruments.

Together with numerous actors, RICO has developed two pedagogical processes around solar energy and the design of just energy transitions. In the near future, we want to translate these experiences into the implementation of solar initiatives as a commitment to community sovereignty.

Community Re-existence: Energy Transition, Gender and Sovereignty

We collaborated with Friedrich-Ebert-Stifting Colombia (FESCOL), the Colectivo Hombres y Masculinidades, the Semillero de Transición Energética of the Universidad del Magdalena, and the CoalExit research group of the Technical University of Berlin, in the design and execution of a virtual pedagogy with four communities in Colombia. The objective of the process was to generate reflections around processes of community empowerment, arising from three thematic axes: (1) new masculinities, (2) territory, and (3) sovereignty. From this reflection, we discussed the potential of alternative energies, among others, to strengthen self-managed community processes. This process is being carried out in the communities of La Sierra (Cesar), Monguí (Boyacá), Provincial and Lomamato (La Guajira).

From this research, we created the book “Impulses from below for just energy transitions: Gender, Territory and Sovereignty“, the series of radio products “Voces reflexivas: sentipensando cuerpo y territorio”, as well as the short film “Re-existencia comunitaria: del Caribe al Páramo”. The support of the Editorial de la Universidad del Magdalena, the Transnational Centre for Just Transitions (TRAJECTS), and the German Service for Academic Exchange (DAAD) has been of paramount importance in these processes.

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Collaborative Network for Solar Power in Venezuela

Together with the Observatory of Political Ecology of Venezuela (OEP) and with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation – Andean Region, RICO developed a pedagogical methodology on community solar energy projects. 

The process emphasises reflection on basic concepts such as ‘energy’ and ‘work’, which allows the discussion to be situated in the realities of the territory. From this common basis, an analysis of the functioning of the energy system at the macro level is carried out, culminating in the establishment and execution of a roadmap for the implementation of solar energy in community processes. Participants also receive training in the technical, economic and legal aspects of self-generation. The process seeks to train and inspire future multipliers and replicators, with the ultimate goal of strengthening the energy sovereignty of communities, from a holistic understanding.

The first iterations of the process took place in March 2020 in three cities in Venezuela: Barinas, Barquisimeto and Caracas. In total, the workshops were attended by around 50 people, representing diverse actors: the CECOSESOLA Network, Tiuna El Fuerte, the Ateneo Popular de los Chaguaramos, and the communities of Carora, Humocaro Alto, 5 de Marzo, El Tauca, and an indigenous Kariña community.