Introducing the Solutions Movement – Deep Dive
Join us in launching 10,000 ambitious youth-led projects to achieve SDG7
June 25, 2021 – by Kabir Nadkarni and Meredith Adler
What is the Solutions Movement?
Today, Student Energy is proud to launch the Solutions Movement, one of the most ambitious youth-led energy initiatives to date. This project aims to mobilize $150M dollars by 2030 to fund, support and deploy 10,000 youth-led clean energy projects globally. To reach this objective, Student Energy aims to raise $10 million in 2021 to kickstart youth energy action this decade.
This initiative was announced June 25th, 2021 as an official Energy Compact of the United Nations High-level Dialogue on Energy’s Ministerial Thematic Forums, with support from our first funder, the Government of Denmark, and key project partner, New Energy Nexus.
Let’s unpack the rationale, mechanisms, and key figures involved in our Solutions Movement, as well as how to get involved.
Empowering Young People to Lead the Energy Transition
The Solutions Movement is inspired by watching the growth and career journey of many of Student Energy’s own alumni as they progressively ramped up their impact on their community’s energy systems, despite often facing significant financial and regulatory barriers. Student Energy’s 12 years of experience in youth empowerment has revealed that youth are deeply passionate about solving the critical problems facing the global energy system, including both climate change and energy poverty, but often lack the financial resources and active support needed to become true agents of change.
Young people face numerous barriers in achieving their ambition for creating a sustainable and equitable energy future:
- The earliest barrier is a lack of inclusion within region- and country-level stakeholder engagement. According to Student Energy’s Global Youth Energy Outlook, 50% of surveyed youth have never been asked their opinion about the future of energy by their government or any other local organizations. How can youth perspectives on climate change and energy access shape the energy future if their voices remain unheard?
- The next barrier is a lack of talent development pipeline to accelerate their motivation into action. Despite their passion for resolving the climate crisis as demonstrated by the never-before-seen globally coordinated youth protests in 2019 and 2020, 74% of global youth indicate that they still do not have a clear idea of how they can create solutions for solving climate change. Student Energy believes that with accessible and experiential energy career training, this talent can be deployed where it is most needed. But right now, due to a lack of dedicated training programs for clean energy, 65% of HR managers in the energy sector indicate that they are seriously concerned about the availability of highly skilled talent, indicating that international ambitions for deploying clean energy far exceed current future clean energy workforce supply.
- Despite some youth being drawn towards entrepreneurship as a way of influencing their energy future, 82% of global young entrepreneurs indicated that a lack of financial support is the main barrier toward entrepreneurship. Specifically, youth entrepreneurs thrive when given non-dilutive capital around USD 6,000 per project range – a category that is currently outside the wheelhouse of traditional financiers.
- Finally, there is a major barrier for financing climate and energy solutions in the Global South. Even with dedicated funding for clean energy solutions in certain wealthier regions, only USD$45B out of the USD$455B in global climate finance crossed borders from an OECD to non-OECD country, with the majority of the small funds distributed taking the form of loans. This lack of any real early-stage risk capital in critical energy markets represents yet another unjust aspect of the energy transition, where the Global South could continue to be left behind as the world transitions toward clean energy over the coming decades. Besides energy justice, deploying sufficient clean energy in emerging economies also represents a critical juncture in achieving global climate targets in line with the Paris Agreement.
For all of these reasons, right now, Student Energy is actively raising $10 Million by December 2021 to build out the first tranche of programming and systems to put us on the path to unlock 10,000 youth climate solutions and train 50,000 agile and employable youth workers in the clean energy sector by 2030. Student Energy’s Solutions Movement is critical for mobilizing, training, and resourcing the next generation of climate champions within this decade.
Student Energy’s Ecosystem & Student Energy Ventures
How will Student Energy achieve this ambitious climate goal by 2030? Student Energy is already a global leader in this space, with a track record of excellence in engaging 50,000+ global youth from 120 countries in the future of energy over 12 years of operation. This includes mobilizing our youth network of 46+ global chapters, stewarding 281 youth-led energy projects, and offering over 975 hours of mentorship to young energy leaders annually since 2010.
Student Energy Ventures
The cornerstone of the Solutions Movement will be Ventures, Student Energy’s flagship direct-to-youth funding program aimed at accelerating youth-led clean energy project development globally. Ventures will offer youth access to an unparalleled level of direct funding, training and entrepreneurial support to develop youth-led clean energy projects. The program will result in a significant deployment of clean energy projects, training of a new skilled workforce equipped with knowledge and experiences needed to build the energy system of the future, and an accelerated global clean energy transition.
Meet Our Champions
One most exciting part of this work to date has been the incredible response from our partner network and larger Student Energy family. This work has already engaged our full team, dozens of current and past program participants, our global alumni network, board of directors and ever-growing network of partners. Student Energy would like to recognize our founding partners for launching the Solutions Movement: the Government of Denmark, New Energy Nexus, and Sustainable Energy for All.
“Tackling climate change is the biggest challenge of our time and it will not be easy, but seeing the motivation, innovation, creativity, and drive that young people around the world today are showing gives me hope that we will achieve our goals. The kind of ambition demonstrated by Student Energy to support 10,000 youth-led clean energy projects by 2030 is precisely what we need in order to accelerate the energy transition and achieve SDG7. Denmark is proud to be a funding partner of this initiative.” – Asser Rasmussen Berling, Head of Department at the Centre for Global Climate Action at The Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities, Government of Denmark
“This is the decade to deploy the solutions we have at hand to address the climate crisis, and many of these solutions need to be youth-led. If these businesses are going to last decades, they are going to need the motivation and energy of young people to really disrupt the markets and overcome the incumbents that they’re going to challenge. We at New Energy Nexus are really excited to partner with Student Energy to develop this movement of guided entrepreneurship.” – Danny Kennedy, CEO of New Energy Nexus
“Every stakeholder has a key role to play as we aim to meet the SDG7 and Paris Agreement targets, including youth, and I am pleased to see the leadership being demonstrated by Student Energy with this Energy Compact commitment. SEforALL’s first ever Youth Summit, held in February 2020, demonstrated our renewed commitment to bringing youth to the fore in this critical year, and it is great to see one of our organizing partners for the Summit come full circle by setting the pace for other young people to follow. This shows that beyond bringing their voices to the table, young people can design and fund the innovations required to achieve our energy and climate goals.” – Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL)
How Can You Help?
At Student Energy, our 2021 focus is to raise $10 Million dollars to launch the pilot phase of the Solutions Movement. Learn more about our work at studentenergy.org/solutionsmovement.
For governments, businesses, and philanthropic foundations, if you would like to explore partnering with Student Energy in this initiative:
If you are not a funder or potential donor, but believe in our important work, we ask that you share this information to help generate additional exposure or connect us to a potential funder you think would be interested in this work.