Regional Summer School - Ecology

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Climate Change – Intelligent Energy Strategies – Nuclear Energy

Climate change has been identified as a key challenge to humankind. Although international and regional efforts are underway to counteract its destructive effects, solutions are still to be found and to be made operational. In this context, the countries of the Middle East and Turkey will be heavily affected by climate change, but also bear important and differentiated responsibilities for protecting the climate, as all countries of the world.

Intelligent energy policy key concern for the region
The security of energy supplies constitutes the basic interest of the governments of the countries of the Middle East and Turkey. However, a future-oriented and intelligent energy policy needs to be a key concern for the region. In response to the increasing need for action against climate change, some Middle East countries and Turkey have taken some initial steps. Climate protection however has still to become an integral part of their national and regional policy strategies for sustainable development.
Regional cooperation provides the possibility to strengthen existent potentials. Renewable energies and measures of energy efficiency offer a broad range of innovative solutions to regional climate strategies. Intelligent energy strategies based on renewable energy and energy efficiency are increasingly recognized in the region as key contributions to combat human-made climate change, to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Summer school in Turkey
In order to contribute to coping strategies with the growing global responsibilities incumbent on the Middle East and Turkey, the Heinrich Boell Foundation, represented by its offices in Istanbul, Ramallah and Beirut, hosted a regional “Summer School”. The Summer School addressed challenges and opportunities in achieving intelligent energy policies and in contributing to sustainable and ecological development. It was held on 3rd to 8th July 2010 in Heybeliada, Istanbul.
The Summer School aimed to discuss the state of recent energy policies, potential of renewable energies and energy efficiency in the Middle East and Turkey and its possible impact on sustainable development with regard to climate change.

What were the topics?

1. Climate Change
Climate change has become the overriding environmental issue of our time. There is alarming evidence that important tipping points, leading to irreversible changes in the ecosystem, may have already been reached or passed. The effects of climate change on the economies of the Middle East and Turkey are already immense. The failure of the Copenhagen climate summit has underlined the need for exploring new avenues of regional cooperation for combating climate change. This module will address the impact of climate change for the Middle East and Turkey and the resulting responsibilities for the states in the region. Furthermore, the role of the industrially developed countries in assisting the region will be dealt with.

Suggested reading:

Climate Change Connections by Eleanor Blomstrom, Sarah Cunningham, Nadia Johnson, Cate Owren

Boell Thema: Climate Change and Justice - on the road to Copenhagen, Issue 2, 2009

2. Intelligent Energy Policies: Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency
Sustainable energy supply will remain a main challenge in the region for the coming decades. A number of renewable energy projects in the region, in particular in the field of solar and wind technology, and energy efficiency measures have demonstrated that this sector can play a key role in providing alternatives to fossil fuels and stimulating economic growth and employment. Participants will assess the challenges and opportunities for enhancing the role of intelligent energy policies in the region. The focus will be on the question how alternative energies can be promoted to become a key industrial sector in the region.

Suggested reading:

Clean Power from Deserts: The DESERTEC Concept for Energy, Water and Climate Security, White Book 4th edition, Club of Rome

ERENE - European Community for Renewable Energy: A feasibility study by Michaele Schreyer and Lutz Mez in collaboration with David Jacobs, Heinrich Boell Foundation, 2008

3. Nuclear Energy Ambitions in the Region
Nuclear power is frequently portrayed as a clean, cheap, and abundant source of energy. A number of countries in the region have recently voiced their interest in exploring the intensified use of nuclear power. Turkey is engaging in the establishing of nuclear energy plants since years. Jordan, Egypt and other countries of the Middle East are investing in the sector as well. Yet, the usage of nuclear energy in the region and internationally raises a number of concerns regarding to environment and human security. This module will thus focus on debating the pro- and con-arguments of nuclear power. Topics will include sensitization of the public towards the use of nuclear energy, its environmental and human implications, as well as its impact on regional cooperation.

Suggested reading:

Energy Systems in OPEC Countries of the Middle East and North Africa, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy, 2009

Who participated?

The Summer School was designed to build the capacities of the participants from the Middle East and Turkey and to stir a debate about urgent current policy topics. It also provided the international lecturers with information about and viewpoints from the region, and offered an excellent platform for exchanging ideas, opinions, arguments and sharing experiences across the region. This program shall promote networking among civil society actors, researchers and activists in the region active in the field of climate, energy and environment. This Summer School inter alia addressed junior professionals, postgraduates, activists, and researchers working at NGO’s, civil society organizations, think tanks or other institutions. The methodology was varied, including lectures, working groups, role playing and the formation of task forces.

Final report of the Summer School

The Regional Summer School took place from 3-8 July, 2010 on Heybeliada, Istanbul’s second largest and truly sustainable, namely car-free island, and brought together over 20 participants from the Middle East and Turkey. What is the current academic debate on climate change? What is the impact on climate change and gender? Copenhagen and now? – Global climate policy and the time after. Intelligent energy policies and its impact on economic growth and reducing poverty. Climate change, bio-energy and agriculture policies. Models for regional cooperation – TREC, DESERTEC, ERENE. What are the new plans for nuclear power plants in the region? Nuclear energy – myth and reality. These were the main questions and topics the young professionals discussed lively during the seminar.
This 6-day training seminar aimed to provide young professionals, active in the field of climate change, energy and environment, with knowledge, methods and approaches for analyzing the impact of climate change in the region, for formulating intelligent energy policies and for exchanging ideas and experiences. Facing the difficult debate on pros and cons of nuclear energy, the participants realized the increasing need for finding sustainable energy solutions and for strengthening regional cooperation. The participants attended daily sessions held by experts from the Middle East, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands. In addition to capacity building, social networking and interactive learning processes, the Regional Summer School offered the opportunity to link the Arab with the Turkish social, cultural and political area. Moreover the participants got the chance to discover the beautiful city of Istanbul and enjoyed a solar energy concert on Heybeliada Island.

For futher reading on the topic see the article "Nuclear energy vs. renewable energy and energy efficiency in the MENA region – A brief exchange of arguments" by Nikolaus Supersberger and Dennis Kumetat.