With the continuously increasing impacts of changing climate, there is a strong need to support building sustainable energy pathways in least developed countries. Responses to the challenges present in the energy-poverty-environment nexus call for multidisciplinary and situated knowledge and capacities, which are currently lacking in local decision making and research. Higher education institutions (HEIs) have crucial roles in providing expertise to meet the locals needs in a sustainable manner.
The national energy and education policy documents acknowledge a gap in skilled labor, and quality of national level higher education is hindering the economic development of the countries. This manifests especially in energy engineering where research laboratories and teaching methods are largely outdated. Through updated expertise the countries can address both energy access, regional connectivity issues, and climate change mitigation while fostering local economy and entrepreneurship.
The DEEM project responds to the identified needs of the Mekong HEIs to:
- create sustainable energy engineering curricula,
- improve the sustainable energy knowledge and promote innovative pedagogical approaches and skills to foster research oriented learning, and
- improve the international, national and regional networks and knowledge exchange.
The project aims to integrate futures and sustainability thinking, promote innovation and entrepreneurship, build public-private partnerships and include innovative teaching methods. Associate partners from the national governments and civil society provide guidance on most relevant challenges and skills needed.
The wider objective is to ensure that the partner HEIs are able to respond to the capacity and employment needs of sustainable energy development in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. The objective will have a direct link to strengthening the integration of sustainable energy goals into national level energy policies, provide qualified energy experts into the local, national and regional labor markets and foster greater collaboration between the traditionally siloed public and private sectors and increase regional level cooperation and mobility in research, entrepreneurship and innovation. The possible direct short term impacts include modernisation and internationalisation of HEIs, and in long term the project will contribute to sustainable energy policies, mitigation of climate GHG emissions and climate change, energy security and better access to energy for all.
DEEM is implemented by a large consortium of European and Mekong HEIs during 2016 to 2019, with University of Turku as the coordinator.