[ID] => 11599
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2019-10-07 09:31:01
[post_date_gmt] => 2019-10-07 08:31:01
[post_content] => The European Petrochemical Association’s (EPCA) 53rd Annual Meeting, which opens its doors to delegates on 6 October in Berlin, comes at what EPCA CEO Caroline Ciuciu describes as a “crucial year” for the industry. Geopolitical and global economic stresses are posing challenges for Europe’s chemical manufacturers and their logistics partners.
EPCA’s role lies in helping its members navigate this evolving world, not to lobby for it, and so its Annual Meeting will present the results of ongoing work in three main areas that is designed to provide industry with the tools it needs. Specifically, these involve the promotion of relevant education in scientific and technical areas, the attraction of new and diverse talent to the industry, and research into ways of improving efficiency and sustainability in the supply chain.
EPCA’s Annual Meeting always provides a locus for discussion, not just through the various business sessions that take place over the four days of the event but also through the unrivalled opportunities it provides for attendees to meet industry leaders and external stakeholders.
TAKE TIME TO LISTEN
The theme of this year’s EPCA Annual Meeting is ‘Writing Together the Next Chapter of the European Petrochemical Industry’, reflecting its belief that it is the community of chemical producers, specialist logistics providers and their strategic partners down the supply chain that are best placed to develop the way forward. EPCA stands for connecting, for sharing knowledge and forward thinking that can contribute to greater efficiency and sustainability in the sector. That means finding practical ways to strengthen cooperation between partners across the value chain and embed innovative thinking into industrial strategies, with the aim of generating sustainable growth in Europe.
To help that process, EPCA has brought in some high-profile speakers who will provide delegates with knowledge to inform their decision-making as industry faces up to the uncertain future. To start the event, Paul Romer, co-winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, will speak about ‘growth economics’; the chemical industry is a prime motor of economic development, both in the developed and developing areas of the world, and has an important role to play in ensuring that growth is maintained. Recent game-changing investments in Europe announced by major international producers show that the region still has the potential to play that role.
But that growth can come at a price and the petrochemical industry is having to deal with growing concern over plastics pollution. Finding a way to close the plastics recycling loop is a major task and one that will require innovation to solve. This topic will be debated during the EPCA Annual Meeting by Tom Crotty, INEOS Group managing director, and Patrick Labat, senior executive vice-president, northern Europe at Veolia, one of the founding members of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW).
On the topic of sustainability, regular visitors to the EPCA Annual Meeting will notice some changes this year, not least the absence of a bag full of printed material. The attendance booklet and other publications will instead be available on the EPCA website and on a dedicated mobile app.
LEADERS OF TOMORROW
The magnitude of sustainability challenges demands transformational changes that require some reengineering of business as well as new social skills and competences. Addressing issues of recycling and sustainability will inevitably require new approaches, which may be best managed by attracting young talent with energy and new ideas to put them into practice.
Not only does that talent need to be brought in to the industry, it also needs to be developed, as the young people joining the chemical industry today will be its leaders tomorrow. How current business leaders can embrace these challenges and develop the right competences to take industry forward will be discussed in the business session on 'Talent of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow', with keynote presentations from Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief reputation officer at the Reputation Institute, and Professor Wayne Visser, holder of the BASF-Port of Antwerp-Randstad Chair in Sustainable Transformation at the Antwerp Management School, who is supporting EPCA in exploring the concept of individual sustainability leadership.
For the fourth time, the EPCA Annual Meeting will also play host to the finals of the European Youth Debating Competition, where participants will present their ideas for shaping a sustainable future for plastics and petrochemicals. The competition is more than just about winning prizes: it draws together students between the ages of 16 and 19 from across Europe, representing different origins, genders, ages and cultures, and highlights the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. In addition, participants gain soft skills that will help them interact in a fast-changing and sometimes divisive environment.
DEBOTTLENECKING THE SUPPLY CHAIN
HCB readers may be most interested in the business session on logistics and supply chain issues, which has the theme of ‘Investing in Infrastructure in Europe for Strategic and Sustainable Supply Chains’. Under the new chairmanship of Dirk Verstraeten, director of global logistics procurement at Covestro Deutschland, EPCA’s Supply Chain Program Committee (SCPC) is focusing on the strategic importance of transport infrastructure in Europe as a key asset for the sustained and sustainable growth of the European petrochemical sector and industry at large.
The session will emphasise the contribution that transport and storage infrastructure can make in terms of meeting the economic, energy and sustainability challenges of today and of the future, as well as the need to foster investment in new capacity and upgrading existing assets. In particular, given the projected 30 per cent increase in freight transport over the next ten years, Europe will need to shift further towards intermodal transport, which will bring rail infrastructure squarely into the spotlight.
With that in mind, the logistics and supply chain business session will feature presentations by Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of the Port of Antwerp, Clemens Först, spokesman of the board of Rail Cargo Group and chair of the CEO Group at UIC and CER, and Bernhard Kunz, managing director of Hupac Group.
Prior to that, though, there will be a ‘Digital Café Workshop’ on innovation and digitisation in the petrochemical supply chain, facilitated by Professor Ann Vereecke, partner at Vlerick Business School, who worked closely with EPCA on a joint study published in 2017 and a seminar in Brussels in June 2018 on the topic of digitisation, which sought to identify the extent to which the chemical supply chain has embraced digitisation and the benefits enjoyed by those who are leading the journey towards the Industry 4.0 future.
EPCA feels that, with digitisation really picking up speed in the sector, the time is right to tackle some of the larger digital transformation challenges. One particularly interesting concept that touches upon both digitisation and climate change, is the circular economy and how new business models, some of which are ‘digital-by-design’, can facilitate that transformation.
This session is strictly limited in size and attendance is by invitation only.
TRADE IN A CHANGING WORLD
Wrapping up the 2019 EPCA Annual Meeting, the closing lunch on 9 October will feature a speech by Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) from 2005 to 2013, who promises to provide delegates with his interpretation of the fast-changing geopolitical and current turbulent trading environments and give an insight into how he sees future relations between Europe, the US, Russia and China developing under a more protectionist new world order.
Pascal Lamy is ideally placed to help Europe’s businesses reflect on the current geopolitical and trade environments and choose the appropriate paths to prosper, in cooperation with their strategic partners around the world, and to reinvent themselves to continue to deliver sustainable and sustained economic growth in the evolving world ahead.
[post_title] => EPCA: Getting together
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[post_name] => epca-getting-together
[post_modified] => 2019-10-07 09:31:02
[post_modified_gmt] => 2019-10-07 08:31:02
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