Youth activist Daphne Frias will deliver the keynote address at the 10th Annual Hawaii Energy Conference. PC: Courtesy
The Hawaiʻi Energy Conference, a two-day event highlighting renewable energy and related topics, will return to its 10th anniversary with in-person meetings May 24-25 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
Presented by the Maui Economic Development Board, the conference is open to the public and will feature keynote speakers, panel discussions, case studies and an exhibition venue, according to a press release. The conference has been virtual in recent years due to the pandemic.
Registration for the 2023 conference is open until March 31 with early bird rates.
This year’s keynote speaker is Daphne Frias, a 25-year-old youth activist who works for the disability community.
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She will speak about the innate resilience of people with disabilities and how it relates to adaptation and sustainability. Frias was born and raised in West Harlem, New York City. He suffers from cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around. She has seen minority communities disproportionately affected by climate change.
Doug McLeod of DKK Energy Services, who is a member of the Energy Conference program committee, said Frias is part of the next generation of climate leaders.
“In the first 10 years of this conference, the discussion moved from whether our planet is experiencing climate change to whether our energy policies will be sufficient to avoid excessive climate change,” he said in the press release. “Our keynote speaker this year is part of the next generation of climate leaders. Her story and her message are inspiring.”
Energy is a complex subject and it’s easy to get bogged down in the details,” added McLeod. “We rarely get to talk about the larger purpose of our work.
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In 2019, Frias was named one of the North American Regional Focal Points for Sustainable Development Goal 16 at the UN Major Group for Children and Youth. In this position, she works to highlight and represent the voice of those around her and the work they are doing to become critical peacemakers.
As a freelance organizer, Frias spends time speaking at various colleges, summits and panels. She also advises nonprofit organizations and creates engaging campaigns that highlight the voices of Gen Z.
Jonathan Koehn, founding member of the Energy Conference program committee, said Frias is a “great speaker for personal resilience”.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for the conference to start with a discussion centered on the most vulnerable in our communities,” he said.
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“Daphne is a really great speaker on personal resilience, on accessibility, and she does amazing community organizing,” said Jonathan Koehn, founding member of the HEC Program Committee and Chief Sustainability & Resilience Officer for the City of Boulder. “I think it’s a good opportunity for the conference to start a discussion centered on the most vulnerable in our communities.”
Frias’ presentation will transition into a segment of panels focused on community engagement and empowerment around energy.
The discussion will explore new ways to engage, including the new participatory budgeting model and Molokaʻi’s recently approved community-based renewable energy project.
A second focus area of the 2023 program will address Hawaii’s clean energy goals, where panels will question:
How long does a building permit take? A discussion of the challenges and solutions in permitting decentralized energy resources such as rooftop PV and lithium-ion batteries. What does the data say? This panel will discuss the various “100%” targets related to renewable energy, carbon and sustainability, is Hawaii on track to achieve them and does the focus need to change? Why is large-scale renewable energy coming on grid in the US slower than expected and often at greater cost? Longroad Energy’s Wren Westcoatt will lead this development round.
A third focus area of the Hawaiʻi Energy Conference 2023 will be new tools and technologies in the field of renewable energy, including geothermal energy, jet fuel, energy storage and the use of hydrogen.
Visit the Hawaii Energy Conference website for more information about the program and to register.