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Meet Faisal: Regional Coordinator for Indian Subcontinent

Student Energy’s Global Youth Energy Outlook is led by a team of 12 youth Regional Coordinators who are working together to reach a total of 50,000 young people around the world in 2020 and 2021. As they engage young people in their region through a two-phase research process, the Outlook’s Regional Coordinators will be gathering insights and recommendations to develop the final Outlook report, with key findings set to be shared at COP26 in 2021.

In this interview series, we get to know each of our Regional Coordinators in-depth:

Introduce yourself and where you come from?

I am Syed Faisal Shah from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and I am the Regional Coordinator for Indian Subcontinent for the Global Youth Energy Outlook by Student Energy. I did my Bachelor’s in Electrical & Electronics Engineering from COMSATS University Pakistan. After completing my Bachelor’s, I worked in the telecom industry for some time, but my keen interest and passion for renewable energy and sustainable policy development compelled me to continue my further studies. Thus, I secured a fully-funded scholarship for my Master’s in Energy Management and Sustainability from U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Energy (USPCAS-E) at University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar, Pakistan. I am the co-founder of Student Energy Chapter at USPCAS-E. Currently, I am in the final semester of my master’s degree and also working as Youth Minister for Energy at the Provincial Youth Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. I have participated and presented in many national and international sustainable energy technologies conferences and seminars.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges to transitioning to a  sustainable energy system in your region?

Actually, the energy system is something that the world depends upon heavily and your access to energy often determines your economic and educational opportunities, health outcomes, and many more. The most immediate energy priority for many developing countries is to expand access, which is also a big barrier with over one billion people experiencing energy poverty. If we talk about the biggest challenges to transitioning to a sustainable energy system in my region, there are so many factors that hinder the adoption and development of a sustainable energy system and clean energy technologies, starting with the continued use of coal as an energy source which means that people are reluctant to use alternative clean energy sources. Other factors are politics and governance, siting & transmission, unequal playing field, reliability misconceptions, social-cultural, financial and economic, market-related, geographical and ecological. All these factors work in tandem to restrict the development of a sustainable energy system and the use of clean energy sources.

What aspects of the energy system in your region do you plan to learn more about?

Most of the countries in my region are rich in clean renewable energy resources like hydro, wind, solar and biomass etc. and I feel really excited to learn more and more about the ways in which we can exploit and make use of its huge natural renewable energy potential that will lead ultimately to a green and clean economy. I am also planning to dive deeper into the energy policies of my region and to know how youth can play an effective role to influence these policies in a sustainable way that could impact the overall energy system positively. Also, energy access and energy security are things that I am curious about, and how we can utilize renewables to ensure sustainable energy access and security to rural and remote communities so that they can play their role effectively in the regional economic growth.

What impact do you personally hope the Outlook will have in your region, and globally?

The Global Youth Energy Outlook is a first-of-its-kind initiative that will reveal what exactly the youth want for the sustainable energy transition. I am sure that this will influence the governments, companies, organizations, and institutions in my region and globally to internalize the value of young people in decision making. This Outlook will help the decision-makers understand the opportunity to actively work together with youth to leverage their innovative ideas and abilities. Also, it will empower young people regionally, as well as globally, and will provide them with the appropriate energy and climate knowledge to take action and work with their governments in adapting the Global Youth Energy Outlook’s principles. I hope that this project will enhance resources and information for young people on how to pursue meaningful careers where they can influence the energy transition effectively.

Why are you passionate about energy and/or climate action?

Energy is not only the biggest industry on earth but it is the enabler of many other industries and the only one that, if done wrongly, can upset the climate and can put an end to millions of people through pollution. And that’s exactly what is being done today at a dizzying scale. I am passionate about energy because it is a way to have a very dramatic worldview.  Energy connects us in everything we do, everything we are, literally everything. In other words, every step of every process of my favorite thing is made possible by energy, so in effect, this made me passionate about energy. Also, energy is my passion because it affords me a sense of influence change in the world, however small it may be. Simply every aspect of our lives is affected in one way or another by some sort of energy-driven system.

How did you first get involved in Student Energy?

It was 2018 and I was in the first days of my master’s that I heard about Student Energy for the first time from my classmate Mr. Amjad Islam who had been in Canada and knew Student Energy. We both sat in our campus library and he showed me the Student Energy website and I was super amazed and inspired. After that day, we showed Student Energy to our class fellows and other students at the campus and they all were amazed and inspired by the movement and thus, we initiated a chapter at U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Energy (USPCAS-E). It was also the foundational basis of Student Energy at our country Pakistan and after us, another very active chapter at NED University Pakistan was initiated, and now the third chapter at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology Pakistan was set-up recently. We are working together, and soon other active chapters will be connected to the network of Student Energy from Pakistan.