Iva Đinđić Ćosić: energy transition opens door for greater role of women

Iva Đinđić Ćosić, eng

Photo: Balkan Green Energy News


March 22, 2024



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March 22, 2024



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In the rapidly changing world of energy, where technological complexity intertwines with regulatory intricacies, individuals like Iva Đinđić Ćosić play a key role in shaping the sector. Đinđić Ćosić, lead expert associate for contracts at grid operator Elektromreža Srbije with a master’s degree in law, has been working in the energy sector for 18 years, in the domestic as well as international environment.

In an interview with Balkan Green Energy News, Iva Đinđić Ćosić talked about the defining moments in her career, starting with her first steps in the sector. We also discussed the role of women in the energy transition and the efforts she wants to undertake as a member of the Advisory Board of the WISE Serbia women’s network in order to empower women to assert themselves in this dynamic sector.

“After I passed the bar exam, it seemed logical that I would stay in the legal profession, but sometimes life has better plans for us,” Iva said when asked about her choice of career.

She began her journey in the energy sector at state gas company Srbijagas. “Although law is my life’s choice, when you are surrounded by professionals, top-class experts in the gas sector, you have no option but to take advantage of every moment you spend with them to hear and learn something you can’t find in books and laws,” said Đinđić Ćosić.

From Srbijagas, she moved to Elektromreža, then a public enterprise, and now a joint-stock company, at the time when Serbia’s electricity market was preparing to open up.

“I remember us working on the first drafts of the Market Code and the agreements on the balance responsibility and on joint auctions for cross-border capacity allocation. Connections to the transmission system were included in the scope of work, but not to the extent seen in the following years. Today, this job is performed by a much larger team,” said Đinđić Ćosić.

Teamwork remains the cornerstone of the functioning of large and critical systems

At Elektromreža, Iva met even greater enthusiasts, colleagues who selflessly shared their knowledge and experience.

“They really were the BEST of the BEST, recognized and renowned in the international environment. And it was a privilege to work with them. They all had one common feature – they believed that their expertise was of critical importance for the security and stability of the transmission system,” said Đinđić Ćosić.

When you need to establish a new system or solve a problem, lawyers are always in the core teams. “So much for the role and importance of isolated, individual sectors. Teamwork was and is the cornerstone of the functioning of such large and important systems,” said Iva.

Energy Community has boosted the role of experts from non-technical sciences

The importance of energy law as a specialized field gained prominence hand-in-hand with the need to regulate the legal relations between the production, consumption, transmission, and sale and purchase of energy and energy products.

Continuous harmonization with EU regulations, as a result of the signing of the Treaty establishing the Energy Community in 2005, has increased the role of experts from non-technical sciences, such as lawyers and economists.

“I continued my personal development with Master’s studies at the Faculty of Law of the University of Niš, where I defended a thesis in 2015 on agreements on joint auctions for the allocation of cross-border electricity transmission capacity,” she said. Her work was the first in the Republic of Serbia to deal with explicit auctions from a non-technical aspect, specifically the legal aspect.

In the energy sector, the learning process is continuous

“The importance of sharing knowledge and experience with fellow energy lawyers was recognized much earlier, but it took the form of an association in 2018, when a few of us from different energy companies founded the Serbian Energy Law Association. On the other hand, climate change, the energy crisis, and the war in Ukraine have imposed energy, and consequently the EU’s acquis communautaire in the field of energy, as one of the priority topics of international organizations’ expert forums, whose conclusions articulated political and strategic commitments of the member states,” explained Đinđić Ćosić.

“As you can see, there are plenty of incentives and reasons for practicing energy law, personal as well as strategic. The best thing of all is that the learning process is continuous and that this professional adventure never ends. Challenges are ahead of us, and we must be ready to face them,” concluded Đinđić Ćosić.

Most women are not aware of their role in the energy transition

Đinđić Ćosić highlighted the diversification of jobs in the energy sector, which brings new opportunities for women. Like any transition, the energy transition is not always fair. It affects individuals, families and households in different ways.

“I think most women are not event aware of the extent of their role in the energy transition. Do you remember the recommendations for saving electricity which the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted in 2021 at the proposal of the Ministry of Mining and Energy, specifically the proposal of recommendations for measures to be taken in households? No offense, but I think I know who they were intended for,” she pointed out.

The energy transition does not only affect women

Iva also touched on the position of vulnerable energy consumers. “Do we have data on how many women, single mothers, in this category are aware of the possible benefits they can gain when procuring energy and energy products, or from addressing the energy efficiency issues in their homes or buildings? Also, how many women have the opportunity to work from home, an option whose viability was demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic? To avoid any misunderstanding, the energy transition does not only affect women.”

The 3 D’s of the energy transition – decarbonization, decentralization and digitalization – open the door for strengthening the role of women. However, a critical prerequisite for a successful transition is formal support from the academic community.

“Interdepartmental cooperation between universities, including through establishing an energy law department, would be a good start for strategic planning and for creating a profile of educated citizens who will be able to respond to the needs of an increasing number of energy companies where women could have significant roles,” said Đinđić Ćosić.

WISE Serbia aims to encourage and empower women to show their knowledge

“The WISE Serbia women’s network project stands out as an active promoter of women’s participation and representation in sustainable energy. It has gained recognition for its credible intention to bring together women who, with their professional integrity and courage, challenge the traditional role of women in energy established by unwritten rules and stereotypes.”

To me, being a member of the advisory board of the WISE Serbia women’s network is both an honor and a professional challenge. It also feels like a logical and natural step given my 18 years of experience working in the energy sector in both domestic and international environments.”

Women should be recognized for their knowledge, expertise and experience

In the energy and environment sector, as in other sectors, women should be recognized for their knowledge, expertise, and experience. In control rooms, at construction sites, and in places where regulations are formulated and shaped, women are underrepresented and not visible enough.

“At professional gatherings, presentations by female colleagues are listened to just as carefully, maybe even more carefully, because there aren’t as many of them as there are men. When their expertise and contribution to the scientific field is recognized, they are rewarded with thunderous applause. And that is what gives each of us a sense of equality and an incentive for further work and professional development,” Đinđić Ćosić pointed out.

The WISE Serbia project aims to encourage and empower women to demonstrate their knowledge and share it with younger colleagues.

“The energy sector may still be dominated by the so-called men’s jobs, but I hope that mutual solidarity and synergy will help us shift the gender balance in our favor,” she concluded.

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