There is also an urgency to convert a general awareness and understanding about renewable energy into tangible action.
These were some of the key issues teased out and discussed at the US Embassy Pretoria’s Energy21: Exchange Hub on telling the renewable energy story differently, which wrapped up yesterday.
The event, which drew over 60 people working in the renewable energy sector, focused on tactics for telling the renewable energy story differently in South Africa. Participants considered how to best reach, touch, inform and convert new audiences, which is especially relevant following the announcement of South Africa’s updated Integrated Resource Plan 2020-2030 and the resounding success of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (REIPPPP).
“South Africa is at the beginning of a very important renewable energy journey,” says Elizabeth McKay, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy. “Finding new champions of renewable energy and encouraging more action will require us to shift the renewable energy narrative.”
Driving this message home at Energy21: Exchange Hub – a partnership between the US Embassy South Africa, World Bank’s Connect4Climate and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – were communications, climate change and renewables experts, including the World Bank’s Max Edkins, Green Cape’s Aman Baboolal, FirstRand’s Madeleine Ronquest and Intellidex’s Colin Anthony.
“South Africa’s renewables story is truly inspirational. We are transitioning towards a renewable future, which opens up opportunities. By communicating more, we strengthen the possibility of a renewables-focused future. It’s also the most pressing challenge of our time and our generation’s time,” says Edkins, climate change and communications expert at the World Bank’s Connect4Climate programme.
David Shelby, director of public engagement at the US State Department, comments: “In the last five years South Africa has made tremendous headway for renewables – as evidenced by the highly successful REIPPP programme roll-out. This, in turn, has played an important part in building the economy and job creation. Now is the time to start telling this story and to communicate the benefits.”