Mekong partners had the second opportunity of the year to visit their European collegues, first in Flensburg in Germany in April and now Tampere in Finland in June. The latter mobility was organised jointly with another Erasmus+ project focusing on energy education in Cuba, thus we had an excellent multicultural week both in work and leisure. On top of this, also collegues from National University of Lesotho joined. What a mix we had!
The week started off with visits to Tampere University of Technology labs, electricity distribution and heating company Elenia, energy technology company Valmet, and Tammervoima waste incineration plant. Waste to energy solutions would be much needed in Lesotho, so the visit sparked some new ideas for project initiatives. Also longer and more research focused mobilities with TUT would be needed among all partners and these are now under planning.
Wednesday ad Thursday were fully booked with FFRC’s annual conference, this year called Energizing Futures. Futures thinking and long term orientation are critical in energy planning and politics, thus the two topics linked nicely and gave food for thought for many of our partners as well. Approaching energy issues from a social science perspective was also new, enhancing holistic understanding.
Friday was reserved for DEEM project board meeting. Two major topics we’re finances and modification of budget according to partner needs, and annual planning until the end of the project in October 2019. Mekong partners were encouraged to plan more regional travels, trainings and conference visits and thus take more ownership of the substance as well. The consortium also acknowledges that cooperation with some universities has only started and there is more to be worked on there. On the other hand Cambodian and Laotian universities can provide a lot to their Myanmar colleagues.
On Friday evening we went for a traditional Finnish sauna & dinner excursion some 30 minutes outside of Tampere, beside lake Näsijärvi. Sauna was a definite success and eased to break the last bits of hierarchy and reservedness once all were running back and forth between the steaming hot hut and relatively (+20c) chilly lake. Later in the evening our Cuban colleagues also gave a salsa lesson, what a perfect end to the day!
Saturday was reserved for internal meetings among the Mekong partners to plan ahead mobilities for the summer, autumn and winter. Simultaneously us coordinators continued with project management meetings with other projects.
The next time all partners join together is in Yangon in December 2018, for the follow up project board meeting.
Noora Vähäkari, project manager of DEEM