Main messages from the second edition of the Socio-Ecological Forum Skopje

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More than 100 participants and over 40 panelists yesterday in Skopje were part of the second Socio-ecological Forum which brought together progressive leaders, decision-makers, media representatives, energy experts, activists, youth leaders, civil society representatives. and dignitaries from the region and Europe. The representatives of the organizers Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, Olof Palme International Center and Progress – Institute for Social Democracy explained that the conference is called a forum because these meetings should be a market of ideas and initiatives on how to deal with climate change on a way that puts the citizens of our countries front and center.

“Social-just transformation for energy self-sustaining Europe”, “Democracy needs democrats, and energy needs democratization”, “Technical solutions that will enable changes at the local level”, “Women in energy”, “Agents of change and energy -transformation led by the youth” were the main topics of the second edition of the Forum. Martin Schulz, Albin Kurti, Dimitar Kovacevski, Ann Linde, Radmila Šekerinska, Hristina Spasovska, Damian Djinkuri, Dragana Rakić, Marko Mihailoski, Jonas Anderson, Rene Schle, Pero Kostadinov, Zoran Paunović, Ksenia Ostrij, Katerina Marku, are just some of the names. who contributed to the exchange of ideas for achieving sustainable solutions in overcoming the socio-economic and energy crisis.

From the many panelists of the second edition we could hear that in the last ten years, the world energy transition agenda has become even more important with the development of various new technologies for energy production and the reduction of photovoltaic prices, even though the greenhouse pollution was evident many years before. They also talked about one of the six priorities of the European Commission – the European Green Deal, with very serious energy and climate goals for the decarbonization of the EU energy system, while at the same time increasing energy security and stability of the integrated energy market. We heard that EU member states should establish their own 10-year national energy and climate plan in five areas: increasing energy efficiency, using renewable energy sources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving interconnections and supporting research and innovations. All activities to be undertaken in those five areas must be aimed at the implementation of new technologies for energy production and storage, digitization of all sectors and education. (Prof. Hristovska)

The situation with the crisis in the region was also analyzed, so it was emphasized that all countries except Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia are dependent on imports of electricity, ranging from 17% per year to 73% per year. All of them produce electricity from old facilities, which are lignite-fired facilities, which means that we cannot talk about ecology here and that they only have access to Russian gas. And those are all the problems we have on the table. On the other hand, electricity must be provided for the functioning of the economy, for the functioning of the citizens, at a price that both the citizens and the economy can bear, because if you have a price that they cannot bear, they will not be able to pay their bills. Unpaid bills at the same time mean illiquidity of the electricity sector and lack of electricity. The third thing in crisis conditions is always to invest well and use it as an opportunity for transformation. These are the foundations on which the policies are built, I would say for all the states in this region, and not just for one state, North Macedonia. (Kovachevski)

Political messages were also sent by some of the speakers: Last week a Conference on Renewable Energy Sources was held in Belgrade – unfortunately Kosovo was not invited to this conference. A few weeks earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Bislimi was invited to the Belgrade Security Conference – but unfortunately he had to return to Kosovo because the Serbian authorities did not allow him to enter Belgrade. On the other hand, on November 3rd, six countries from the Western Balkans signed three agreements during the Berlin Process Summit. You may understand why I am suspicious of any initiative that is not led and coordinated by the EU. (Kurti)

When discussing the topic of the issue of the gender perspective of the socially just energy transformation, a loud message was sent precisely by eminent decision makers: I believe that this is an area that men and women should talk about more and ask for this huge instrument of recovery to give them be available to the countries of the region. Women cannot easily overcome the challenges of the new green transition if they continue to be neglected and overburdened with housework. Every study has shown that countries that have more women involved in peacekeeping do better. The more women are represented at high levels in the executive power, the better and more ambitious the declared change programs are. Unfortunately, even at the central level we see very limited participation of women. There is a huge gap and I think we should do everything to reduce that gap, because without the representation of women’s concerns and solving the women’s problem, the female part of the social transition will be invisible, lost and our gender gap will be even bigger. (Shekerinska)



Regarding socio-ecological transformation and political investment in order to realize long-term strategies in the context of climate change, the former president of the European Parliament said that we need a long-term strategy, but we also need short-term solutions for the citizens, for our voters; these are the contradictory situations that represent a challenge for left-oriented parties. Rich people can buy everything, they can buy energy, so zero or -5 degrees is not a problem for them, they will have heated houses. However, ordinary citizens, students, and pensioners with zero income cannot heat their homes, literally freezing. To mobilize the necessary funds, because if we do not provide for those people and enable them to overcome those problems, we will lose the support of the people that we urgently need for the strategies. (Schultz)

From the young leaders who took an active part in this second Socio-Ecological Forum, we heard that it is good that young people are involved in all important processes, not only for the present, but also for the future, because the future is the responsibility of us young generations, who should to constantly remind the older generations of their obligations and responsibility, bearing in mind that they are here with us, and the burden of the future belongs to all of us, especially since the generations before us participated in the creation of this world. The world is facing one of the biggest economic and political crises since World War II. It manifests itself in political instability and uncertainty, war in Europe only 1000 kilometers from here, Russian aggression against Ukraine, and we as young leaders must use every opportunity we have to point out the bad decisions made by world leaders. Everyone’s assessment is that this crisis will last, it will not be a quick sprint towards new economic growth, it will be a long-term economic marathon towards a new economic model of development and well-being. (Mihailoski)

Three key messages were offered at the Forum: First, the need for social-ecological transformation has not diminished, but its security dimension has increased its urgency. This year has clearly shown that dependence on fossil energy sources is a vulnerability. Those societies that have advanced further in terms of renewable energy sources are more resilient and can provide for their citizens. Second, we need a plan on how to deal with climate change in a socially just way in this time of crisis, here in the region and everywhere in the world. Third, political programs are crucial, in this constant mode of short-term decision-making that we do not lose track of our long-term goals. (Schlee)

Let’s discuss today how social, environmental transformation can serve as inspiration for a better tomorrow, grounded in the needs of citizens today. With your thoughts, ideas, initiatives and suggestions, see you at the third Socio-ecological Forum, next year in Skopje!