230 students shaped their future at the European Student Assembly
The European Student Assembly (ESA) is a grassroots project that gathers students from most European University Alliances to debate current issues, draft political recommendations for the future of Europe and advocate them among stakeholders and decision makers.
The second European Student Assembly brought together 230 students, from 40 European University Alliances and 30 countries across Europe. After a competitive application process and an intensive online preparation phase the students gathered in the prestigious setting of the European Parliament in Strasbourgfrom 31 May to 2 June, 2023, to exchange ideas, discuss pressing matters, and collaborate on shaping the future of Europe.
Hatef Hajian from Aalto University was one of the 12 students representing the Unite! alliance. He is a doctoral researcher at the Indoor Air Quality group of the Civil Engineering Department in the School of Engineering at Aalto University. ”The European Student Assembly included participants from many nationalities who were studying in the various European University Alliances. It was fascinating to meet students from different disciplines trying to discuss ongoing issues and draft political recommendations to advocate them among decision-makers. The best of my experience was debating with other experts about recommended policies and voting for the best relevant ones”, says Hatef Hajian.
The students had the opportunity to delve into areas such as sustainable development, inclusion, and digital innovation, among others. Students were able to consult experts in various fields before participating in discussions and workshops. They then drafted and voted on a total of 75 policy recommendations aimed at addressing the challenges and opportunities facing Europe.
Hatef participated in a panel focusing on energy. This is an area of special interest to him as his research focuses on energy efficiency in buildings. The panel came up with eight recommendations that received the majority of votes from the other 230 participants:
- Enhance the accuracy of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)
- Use savings from renovation to repay the loans
- Prevent Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) contradicting with Environmental Law
- Implement risk assesment plan for securing value chains of low-carbon technologies
- Set European targets for phasing out subsidies of fossil fuels
- Reduce bureaucracy via digitalisation
- Create a directive that develops a mechanism to map public engagement with energy to inform policy-makers
- Enforce compulsory adoption of low-energy district heating from waste heat, where technically possible.
“As a student at Aalto University, I mostly encounter research problems in Finland and try to find solutions according to Finnish regulations. However, during the Assembly I found different solutions for similar problems. This gave me hints to look at the issues from different angles and vast my knowledge of my research area. Moreover, meeting other experts from different countries provided a strong network for more collaborations in future”, tells Hatef.
The results of the Assembly, including the policy recommendations, will be disseminated to stakeholders, policymakers in the European Parliament, and educational institutions. Unite! students have been actively involved in the Assembly by organizing and coordinating the different panels.