As the impacts of climate change accelerate, there is a strong need to also enhance support for the embedding of sustainable energy pathways in least developed countries. Responses to the challenges present in the energy-poverty-environment nexus call for multidisciplinary and context specific and capacities, as they are currently lacking in local decision making and research. Higher education institutions (HEIs) have crucial roles in providing expertise to meet the local needs in a sustainable manner. National energy and education policy documents have acknowledged gaps in skilled labor, and in the quality of national level higher education which is hindering economic development. This manifests especially in energy engineering where research laboratories and teaching methods are largely outdated. Through updated expertise the countries can address both energy access, regional connectivity issues, and climate change mitigation while fostering local economy and entrepreneurship.
The DEEM project responds to the identified needs of the Mekong HEIs to:
The project aims to integrate futures and sustainability thinking, promote innovation and entrepreneurship, build public-private partnerships and include innovative teaching methods. Associate partners from the national governments and civil society provide guidance on the most relevant challenges and skills needed. The wider objective is to ensure that the partner HEIs are able to respond to the capacity and employment needs of sustainable energy development in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. The objective will have a direct link to strengthening the integration of sustainable energy goals into national level energy policies, provide qualified energy experts into the local, national and regional labor markets and foster greater collaboration between the traditionally siloed public and private sector. It will also increase regional level cooperation and mobility in research, entrepreneurship and innovation. The intended short term direct impacts include modernisation and internationalisation of HEIs. In the longer term the project will contribute to sustainable energy policies, mitigation of climate GHG emissions and climate change, energy security and better access to energy for all.