Finnish green energy initiative empowers consumers in the world to act upon their energy choices
Merve Güngör, young professional working on an ecolabel to help citizens worldwide choose 100% sustainable and renewable energy announced as a finalist in the upcoming EU Sustainable Energy Awards.
“Energy is an ingredient in almost all products and services we use. That’s why it’s even more important to make informed choices regarding our energy purchases,” reminds Merve Güngor, 32, one of the two employees of Finland-based EKOenergy. Supported by a team of volunteers in this work, Merve joined the initiative via the European Solidarity Corps programme in 2016 and has remained part of it since.
In cooperation with licensed sellers of renewable energy around the world, EKOenergy helps consumers to identify sustainable sources of energy through its ecolabel. The international dimension of this ecolabel is key: it means that large consumers can make use of it across borders, allowing greater uptake of sustainable energy and a wider reach. In recent years, several large global companies from various sectors - fashion, automotive, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, software industry - have started a cooperation with the ecolabel. These include international companies such as Yves Rocher, Schüco and branches of L'Oréal and Toyota.
Since the ecolabel is only available to renewable energy with a minimal environmental impact, such as wind farms that are not located in protected areas, consumers can be sure that they are making the best possible choice for the environment. EKOenergy-labelled energy is currently available in over 40 countries and counting, thanks to Merve and her team.
“When we talk about the climate decade, we are talking about the decade of delivery, where we need serious climate action. We need less words and more action,” says Merve. “We don’t have time to wait for the ideal solutions to show up. The next big thing is a combination of many small things.”
Aside from boosting the conversation around green energy and facilitating the uptake of renewable energy among consumers through the ecolabel, Merve and her team also support sustainable energy projects around the world through fundraising. So far, they have collected over EUR 1,300,000 and therefore enabled the financing of more than 60 such projects in renewable energy. The success of this work is highlighted by a UN report as an example of how to efficiently reach SDGs.
While in charge of international communication, Merve is committed to encouraging a wider conversation about green energy. In practice, this also means that all communication has to go out in many different languages, especially those of the EU. That is why the website is available in 20 languages:
“Since EKOenergy’s launch in 2013, we have been gradually expanding our reach: first in Finland, soon after in countries such as Spain, Italy and France, followed by Germany, Sweden and more. We copy good examples from one country to another and share success stories. We cooperate with other NGOs and reach out to energy companies as well as large energy consumers.”
The EKOenergy logo, which participating companies can display on their products and premises, publicise the use renewable energy and act as conversation-starters to broaden awareness and boost visibility of their work. This is based on the principle that persuading individuals, households and communities about the importance of renewable energy depends on good communication:
“This is about all of us as individuals,” says Merve, “When one person creates change around themselves, it keeps spreading.”
These efforts go beyond communication with consumers and include building carefully-chosen partnerships with other like-minded NGOs, in order to enable wider climate action. As a non-profit initiative founded by the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, EKOenergy also cooperates with other international networks that focus on renewable energy, for example, with IRENA’s Coalition For Action.
In recognition of this work, Merve and her team received the European Citizen’s Prize 2020, awarded by the European Parliament.
European youth take action to shape a sustainable energy future
Merve Güngör is one of three finalists shortlisted for the EU Sustainable Energy Awards 2021 in the Young Energy Trailblazer category. The award recognises outstanding activities carried out by young people (under 35) which advance the clean energy transition in Europe and inspire ambitious climate and energy action. The two other contenders in the category are Filip Koprčina and Daniele Novara.
Filip is the founder of Energy Shift, the blockchain-powered platform that allows citizens to invest in and support solar energy projects around the world. Daniele is the CEO and founder of Easy Hydro, which aims to commercialise modular, inexpensive and reliable water turbines.
EU Sustainable Energy Awards recognise champions of 2030 climate and energy targets
Twelve outstanding individuals and projects are highlighted at the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) 2021 for their innovation in energy efficiency and renewables. Finalists were chosen from a list of the year’s most successful projects for clean, secure and efficient energy. The awards have four categories - Engagement, Innovation, Woman in Energy and Young Energy Trailblazer – as well as the Citizen’s Award, which will be received by one of the projects in the first two categories. Prizes will be awarded by an expert jury (for Engagement and Innovation), and by citizens via a public vote, which is now open until 22 October. The five winners will be announced on Monday 25 October during EUSEW 2021.
EUSEW 2021 runs from 25 to 29 October 2021, under the theme ‘Towards 2030: Reshaping the European Energy System’. Taking place ahead of the decisive COP 26, the event brings together energy policy experts, industry leaders, academia and civil society representatives to discuss how forward-looking policies for decarbonisation, energy efficiency, climate mitigation, and many others comprising the European Green Deal, can help rebuild a better and more resilient society and economy.
EUSEW 2021 is held as an online event once again, with more opportunities than ever to connect, engage, network and reflect on the biggest issues in clean energy in Europe and beyond.
Registrations for participants and for media are now open.
For interview requests with the EUSEW 2021 Award finalists or additional media information, please contact [email protected]