For the second year running the European Youth Debating Competition (EYDC) - a joint project between The European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) and PlasticsEurope – came to the Netherlands. The National Finals in Amsterdam gathered 43 students from 5 schools and saw a passionate and enjoyable debate. The three winners will be representing their country in the European Finals that will be held during the 51st EPCA Annual Meeting.
The debating competition is a multifaceted initiative to involve young people between 16 and 19 years old. This year’s debate is taking place in seven European countries and touches upon the topic: “People, Planet, Profit in the Digital Age: With or without petrochemistry and plastics?” with the participants debating the key questions that modern society faces and the contribution of petrochemistry and plastics in the digital age.
In Amsterdam, as in the other National Finals, the students received professional training in public speaking skills prior to the debates. Afterwards, the participants were divided into fixed speakers with pro and con factions, and free speakers who had the possibility to argue from any position. Moreover, participants and members of the audience were encouraged to show how convinced they were of the speeches and arguments, by displaying green or red ballot cards, thereby ensuring an interactive and enjoyable debate.
A jury comprising of representatives from industry, media, NGO’s, lecturers, experts including a member of the EPCA Board of Directors, as well as from EPCA and PlasticsEurope, were responsible for selecting the final three winners, based on the analysis of their ability to express themselves with well-informed, logical and persuasive arguments, and how they interact with each other.
Three winners – Noah Windemuth-Rotteveel, Natali Nedkova and Sara Baars - will have the chance to debate in the European Finals that will be held on October 1st in Berlin, during the largest gathering of the global chemical business community in Europe, the EPCA 51st Annual Meeting.
The opening speech was delivered by the pro-speaker, Mark Williams, Vice President Europe at SABIC and member of the EPCA Board of Directors, president of the Dutch chemical association VNCI and member of the Steering Board of PlasticsEurope. In his pro-speech Mark Williams demonstrated the crucial role of petrochemistry and plastics in future, especially when it comes to sustainability and innovation. The con-speech delivered by Freek van Eijk, Managing Director Acceleratio, was challenging this future role of the industry and its products.
Drs. Annelie Kohl MPA, Jet-Net and Education Coordinator at Shell Nederland B.V. and member of the jury felt that “the students engaged in a very stimulating debate around society’s needs, allowing us from industry to listen and learn from their arguments by providing these youngsters with a platform to express themselves, with an experience that will enrich and prepare them for a bright future.”
Theo Stijnen, Director PlasticsEurope the Netherlands confirmed that “just like last year we saw a high level of commitment and debating skills amongst the youngsters. We have 3 great talents to represent our country in Berlin later this year”.
EPCA and PlasticsEurope have joined forces to support STEM Education in Europe. 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. These debates offer students a platform to express themselves, improve their soft skills and boost their potential future careers as leaders of tomorrow on an international stage.
The European Petrochemical Association (EPCA)
Based in Brussels, EPCA is the quality network in Europe for the global chemical business community consisting of chemical producers, their suppliers, customers and service providers. It operates for and through more than 700 member companies from 54 different countries. EPCA provides a platform to meet, exchange information and transfer learning, and serves as a think tank for its members and stakeholders. EPCA promotes STEM education, with a clear focus on gender and diversity inclusion. EPCA also highlight the multidisciplinary approach and the variety of challenging career paths that the chemical industry offers.
PlasticsEurope is one of the leading European trade associations with centres in Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris. The association is networking with European and national plastics associations and has more than 100 member companies, producing over 90% of all polymers across the EU28 member states plus Norway, Switzerland and Turkey
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