A few years ago, the public’s understanding of energy efficiency was quite poor in Latvia. But according to Inese Bērziņa, that has changed. Indeed, it is fair to say that she is partly responsible for the progress that has been made.
– When I look at the map and all the green dots that show the buildings that have been renovated, I feel happy. I think about all the apartment owners and house managers who made the decision to do the renovation. They took the opportunity offered by the EU funding. Also, I am really glad about the municipalities that helped along the way.
Inese Bērziņa works for the Ministry of Economics in Latvia and is the national coordinator of the “Let’s live warmer” campaign – a successful Latvian communication campaign promoting energy efficiency of buildings that has been rewarded by the European Commission.
One of the challenges has been to change people’s understanding of energy efficiency and their behavior.
– We started with municipalities, opinion leaders, industries and the media. We explained and talked about the basics – to take care of your own house, to be responsible.
– For example, we had to explain that to renovate a house is an investment in the household’s budget. We educate how to ventilate a room in a renovated house correctly, and explain that higher quality and safety also has to do with energy efficiency.
Inese Bērziņa never planned to work with energy efficiency. It was something that more or less just happened. She studied chemistry at Riga Technical university, then worked for the State Border Guard and a public relations agency, before being employed by the Ministry of Economics.
– I started working with energy efficiency by accident. I guess you can say it pulled me in, she laughs.
That is, however, not something she regrets.
– This journey has given me invaluable experience and knowledge. I have met fantastic people, colleagues and partners. Many of them have become good friends of mine.
Today, she is also involved in the Baltic Leadership Programme on Energy Efficiency, which is commissioned by the Swedish Institute. The programme connects leaders and experts on energy efficiency across the Baltic Sea region.
– The Baltic Leadership Programme has broadened my view on energy efficiency and made me see things from different angles. The knowledge that the other participants have shared, and the contacts from the programme, are more valuable. The last session in Riga was fantastic, so productive. I was amazed how well people can work together to create joint projects with a common goal. It inspired me to keep these collaborations alive and keep on working on new ideas.
For the Latvian context, the experiences from the leadership programme have been highly relevant, says Inese Bērziņa.
– Our Latvian partners got a chance to step into the shoes of policy makers. Thanks to the leadership programme, they have become more aware of the impact of the EU’s regulations on the member states.
As far as she is concerned, there is still much to do.
– I hope the collaborations we started during the programme will continue. I am confident we have made the very first steps towards building a strong international cooperation on energy efficiency.
The Baltic Leadership Programme on Energy Efficiency
The Baltic Leadership Programmes (BLP) are tailor-made training programmes designed to promote the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) through establishing professional networks and strengthening capacities related to specific topics.
The BLP on Energy Efficiency was commissioned by the Swedish Institute in close cooperation with the Latvian Ministry of Economics in its capacity as coordinator of policy area “Energy” of the EUSBSR and the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat in its capacity as coordinator of horizontal action “Climate” of the EUSBSR.
The BLP on Energy Efficiency was carried out during autumn 2019 and spring 2020. The main results were strengthened cooperation between energy efficiency experts in the Baltic Sea regioni and the design of a long-term process for cooperation. BLP participants identified four thematic areas and developed concrete projects for the actual implementation.