More than 200 experts from 30 European countries and more than 20 different institutions and organisations participate in the 2nd conference of the third phase of the Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector (CF SEDSS III) which opened today.
The two-day online event (16-17 June), held under the auspices of the Portuguese EU Presidency and hosted by the Portuguese National Ministry of Defence, takes stock of the progress made so far in Phase III in supporting EU Member States’ Ministries of Defence and partners to move towards green, resilient, and efficient energy models. It also showcases how the Forum contributes to the EU's efforts in achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
Efforts to address energy-related and climate change issues and their impact on defence are gaining strong momentum in the EU with the implementation of the European Green Deal. The Consultation Forum, the largest European defence energy community, is contributing substantially to implementing the Climate Change and Defence Roadmap, the first-ever EU's action plan to address the links between defence and climate change.
Political momentum in advancing sustainable and resilient defence
The conference was opened with speeches by João Gomes Cravinho, Minister of National Defence of Portugal, and Jiří Šedivý, EDA's Chief Executive. Paula Pinho, Director at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, gave a keynote speech.
Minister Cravinho highlighted that “the climate-defence nexus has become a key strategic priority for multilateral cooperation within the EU and NATO”. “This has been made clear in the effort to revise and update the guidelines of both organisations via the Strategic Compass, in the EU, and the NATO 2030 initiative. Both documents are giving great relevance to the connection between climate and security. As we upgrade our defence systems and strategies to a new security context, adaptation to climate change will certainly assume a central role in technological development for defence. This will also contribute significantly to more resilient societies – a growing and wise demand of European public opinion”, the Minister said.
In his speech, Mr Šedivý said the conference demonstrated once again "the Member States' utmost interest in strengthening the EU's technology sovereignty and ensuring its transition to climate-neutrality by 2050". The recently approved European Defence Fund (EDF) will give an additional boost to this important endeavour, as it is expected to encompass “concrete actions for addressing defence energy and climate-related topics, further reinforcing the national defence efforts in these vital fields”, he stressed. EDA and the European Commission are currently exploring to initiate one of the first actions under Horizon Europe to enable the development of offshore renewable energy projects in maritime areas reserved for defence activities or used by defence. This is just one example that reflects the EU's increased interest at the highest level to support the EU Member States in moving towards a more circular, sustainable and resilient defence sector. In that context, "the work of the Energy Consultation Forum is essential in addressing the wider links between defence and climate, providing at the same time a prime platform for fostering synergies between defence and energy communities as well as industries and research and technology organisations", Mr Šedivý said.
In her speech, Commission Director Pinho underlined the importance of the European Green Deal as the EU sustainable growth strategy underpinned by a just transition. She recalled that the Fit for 55 package to be adopted by the Commission on 14 July 2021 represents “one of the most ambitious policy overhauls in recent EU history. Offering us a way to tackle climate change, to put in place the clean energy transition and providing crucial opportunities for the recovery while leaving no one behind.” Ms Pinho stressed the importance of a stronger energy efficiency target, the continuous exemplary role of the public sector, the importance of energy audits and energy management systems, and the need to provide a legal basis for the ‘Energy Efficiency First Principle’. On both energy efficiency and renewable energy, Ms Pinho underlined that both targets as set in the Climate Target Plan - namely between 38-40% and 37 % respectively, are attainable. Moreover, “We have the political will, the technological expertise and the EU funds, including from the Recovery and Resilience facility, to make it happen.” She concluded by recalling the growing engagement of the EU in the defence sector, where CF SEDSS is one of the most advanced actions.
Next conference in 2021
The 3rd CF SEDSS III conference is scheduled to take place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 23-24 November 2021 under the auspices of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU and hosted by the Slovenian Ministry of Defence.
About the CF SEDSS
The Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector (CF SEDSS) is a European Commission funded initiative managed by the EDA. This Forum was established with the primary goal to create a defence energy-related community to share information, knowledge and best practices on improving energy management, increasing energy efficiency and buildings performance, utilising renewable energy sources in the defence sector and enhancing the resilience of defence-related critical energy infrastructure. To address these objectives, and with the support of the European Commission, EDA has implemented two phases: the first phase took place from October 2015 to October 2017 and the second one from October 2017 to August 2019. Building on the successful outcome of these two phases and to address emerging and future challenges in the field of energy, EDA and the European Commission launched on 1 October 2019 the third phase, which will run over a period of four years until 30 September 2023. CF SEDSS phase III is funded by the European Union's (EU) horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No. 882171.