Committed to transformative change, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) is hosting a 3-day summer school on ‘Energy Transitions in the Global South’. This initiative is tailored for early career researchers and practitioners in India, including those at the advanced stages of their doctoral program. The summer school aims at fostering a new generation of academic researchers and industry practitioners, equipped to tackle the intricate challenges at the nexus of RE, equity, and institutional dynamics.

 

Through transdisciplinary engagement, the summer school aims to facilitate knowledge exchange and thereby empower domestic participants with the knowledge and insights necessary to navigate the complexities of energy transitions in the Global South. By providing a platform for collaborative learning and dialogue, the programme aspires to nurture change agents committed to advancing sustainable and equitable energy futures. This summer school draws from and aims to build on our ongoing work on energy transitions, which is focussed on understanding how equity and social welfare can be embedded in energy decision making.

 

We intend to achieve our shared learning objectives by making use of a mix of interactive seminars; presentations of selected work by participants, as well as feedback sessions on presented work, and guest lectures by academics, practitioners, and other key stakeholders. The sessions will be carefully designed to facilitate mutual knowledge exchange, including dedicated sessions that build on the presented work and locate it in the evolving context of the Global South. We aspire to convert the presented papers into a special journal issue for publication in early 2025. The key themes around which this summer school is framed are as follows.


Background

The transition to renewable energy (RE) stems from a global consensus on the critical need for climate action, particularly in the context of identifying pathways compatible with limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius (IPCC, 2018; Gielen et al., 2021; Henderson & Sen, 2021; Achakulwisut, P et al., 2023). Understanding the dynamics of this shift is even more crucial in resource-constrained Global South contexts, where the challenge is to balance decarbonization, energy and development goals. The transition to RE is increasingly imagined to be the primary vehicle to bridge the energy access gap and aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG7) on universal access to clean, affordable, reliable, and modern energy.

 

However, the dynamic of such transitions in the Global South, such as in India, extends beyond the realms of discrete energy planning, and entails issues of equity. This adds layers of complexity and nuance to the ongoing discourse on energy transitions. For example, the manner in which RE infrastructure is deployed has the potential to reinforce the power asymmetries of the fossil fuel regime, hence exacerbating socioeconomic disparities (Stock, 2023). The impacts of transitions, therefore, on marginalised and vulnerable communities needs careful consideration. In the Indian context, for example, phasing out of coal power plants has complex social equity implications (Haldar et al., 2023) which need to be considered. India’s commitment to achieving 500 GW of installed RE capacity by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2070 (Haldar et al., 2023) is a welcome move towards its global commitment to the climate crisis but necessitates a critical examination of how these ambitious targets align with equity considerations and potential development outcomes. This would require deeper theoretical, and practice based inquires and approaches, using multiple analytical frameworks, such as of institutional work, justice, social equity, capabilities, intersectionality, and sustainable finance (Pathania & Bose, 2014; Osborne, 2015; Healy & Barry, 2017; Fazy et al., 2018; Mey & Diesendorf, 2018; Jenkins et al., 2018; Hoffman et al., 2021).

 

In essence, these frameworks overlap with considerations that are bounded by institutional and policy performance, engagement in decision making, and considerations of the dynamics of financing and financial performance (Pathania & Bose, 2014; Vuong et al., 2019; Lippert & Sareen, 2023). Intersectionality is another important piece of the puzzle within the goals of a socially just energy transition. An array of approaches emphasise the multilayered and reflexive nature of justice in energy transitions, especially in the Global South. Recognizing the interconnected nature of multiple intersectional elements such as gender is essential for capturing the complexity of power relations and their implications in the context of energy transitions (Sovacool et al., 2023).

 

In essence, intricate intersections of energy infrastructures with equity considerations must be navigated to ensure that the transition is environmentally sustainable, socially, and economically inclusive.


Open questions and key thematic areas
The summer school is focused on unpacking the multiple nuances of the ongoing energy transitions in the Global South, with a focus on India. Some of the indicative themes of interest are as under:

1. Intersectionality and Transformative Impact

  • How can the various intersectional lenses be practically applied to energy transitions discourse, policies, and practices, leading to transformative impacts on equity concerns?

 

2. Institutional Capacity for Energy Equity:

  • To what extent do existing institutional and regulatory frameworks effectively shape energy policies, influence resource access, and contribute to equitable energy transitions?

  • What enhancements are needed for these institutions to better align with equity goals?

 

3. Financial Sustainability and Social Inclusion:

  • How can we navigate the intricate interplay between economic considerations, social inclusivity, and environmental goals in the Global South’s energy transition

  • What innovative financial mechanisms and investment models can be devised to support socially inclusive energy transitions?

 

4. Governance Structures in Transition:

  • How are governance structures evolving in the Global South, concerning energy transitions?

  • What are the dynamics of decision-making processes, stakeholder involvement, and overall governance structures, and how do they impact equity considerations?

 

5. Scalability and Replicability of Solutions:

  • What insights can be gained into the scalability and replicability of energy transition initiatives across diverse socio-economic and cultural contexts within the Global South?

 

6. Technology, Innovation, and Equity:

  • In what ways can technological advancements be strategically leveraged to address sustainable energy challenges, including those linked to energy poverty, and energy access?

  • How does and how should the intersection of technology and equity considerations shape the future of energy transitions in the Global South?

  • In an era of global digital revolution, how can digital innovation be harnessed to advance energy justice considerations?

  • How might the convergence of innovation and investment be promoted in the energy sector to foster sustainability and inclusivity?

 

These questions serve as indicative gateways to deeper examinations of the multifaceted dimensions of energy transitions. Particularly, we would be interested in submissions that experiment with interdisciplinary methods and those that explore the transitions dynamics at multiple levels, such as at the household, community, sub-national, sectoral, and national levels. The participants are encouraged to also include proposals aligned with but not limited to the mentioned themes and questions.

Application Requirements

  1. Curriculum vitae (CV) or resume (2 pages max).
  2. Statement of purpose (max 500 words), explaining your interest and expectations from the summer school.
  3. Extended abstract on any of the indicated thematic areas or allied themes (max 1500 words). The abstract should include motivation for the study (short literature review), problem statement, description of methodologies adopted and data sources, analytical framework, and expected outcomes/ results, if any.

 


 

Registration Fee and Financial Assistance

There is no registration fee and limited financial assistance may be considered, subject to acceptance of the extended abstract and availability of funds. Details of available financial assistance and the processes to be followed will be communicated to the selected participants.

 


 

Important dates

  1. Application Deadline: 7 March 2024 
  2. Notification of Acceptance: 13 March 2024 
  3. Summer School Dates: 27 to 29 March 2024 
  4. Venue: IIHS, Bengaluru City Campus

Interested early career researchers and practitioners interested in the questions of energy transitions in India and who are from diverse academic, professional, disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply. This summer school is for Indian citizens only. Please submit your extended abstracts along with your application by 7 March 2024.

 


 

Contact Information

Interested applicants may submit the extended abstract along with the other documents at stutih@iihs.ac.in, mverma@iihs.ac.in. For enquiries, please contact Stuti Haldar (stutih@iihs.ac.in)/ Mithlesh Verma (mverma@iihs.ac.in).