Europe’s youngsters to debate about the contribution of plastics and petrochemistry in the digital age

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:

PlasticsEurope and the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) are joining forces once again to promote education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by organising a series of debating competitions for youngsters in Europe.

The European Youth Debating Competition (EYDC) will take place between April and October 2017. Students aged 16 to 19 years old are expected to participate in seven national finals taking place in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK.

The European Finals 2017 will take place in Berlin on Sunday, 1 of October 2017, during the 51st EPCA Annual Meeting.


'How will we live tomorrow?' 'Will the smart cities of the future be completely interconnected?' 'Will drones be delivering our goods?' 'Will the current workplace and educational environment still exist, as we know them now?' 'How will we ensure and sustain access to drinking water and healthcare for a growing population?' 'Will the development of new technologies be possible without science and industry?' 'What will the contribution of petrochemistry and plastics be to a sustainable society in a digital age?' These are some of the questions the youngsters will be debating.

History of the debates

From 2007 to 2012, a series of debating competitions for young students have been organised by plastics manufacturers. In 2016, this programme was rejuvenated by EPCA and PlasticsEurope with a series of youth debates having taken place in several EU countries, culminating in Budapest with the European Finals in October 2016.

Aim of the event

The debating competition is a multifaceted initiative to engage young people with the key issues facing modern society with a stimulating yet enjoyable discussion. This year’s debate touches on the theme: 'People, planet, profit in the digital age: With or without petrochemistry and plastics?' Each of the participants will receive professional coaching before the debates, as well as an explanation of the format and rules. Following each debate, a jury composed of representatives of industry, media, NGOs - as well as from EPCA and PlasticsEurope - will select three winners during each country’s National Final. To win, students will need to display public speaking skills with well-informed, logical and persuasive arguments.

Caroline Ciuciu, CEO of EPCA, highlights the association’s endorsement of the project: “This competition is a unique opportunity for students of a generation of digital natives, to further explore the links between our society’s development, sciences and the petrochemical industry. In addition, in a fast changing and sometimes divisive environment, this debating competition offers youngsters the chance to interact with each other regardless of gender, nationality and culture. Finally, for us as an industry, the EYDC is an excellent initiative to connect with a new generation, listen and learn about their views as well as their visions of our future. In a nutshell, it is a way to Connect – Listen – Learn – Collaborate”, for both the youngsters and our industry.”

Karl-H. Foerster, executive director of PlasticsEurope, added: “Beyond the importance of STEM education, EYDC aims to provide a platform for students to build their self-confidence and express their thoughts in a convincing way. It is an open and respectful debate on topical issues related to petrochemistry and plastics. By bringing awareness and education together, we make science and technology more tangible, accessible, and directly connected to their reality.”

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