At the French edition of the 2016 European Youth Debating Competition, an initiative by the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) and PlasticsEurope, nearly 80 students’ youngsters from across France debated the overarching theme "50 years of chemical industry. What’s next?”. Three students were selected to represent France at the Grand Final to be held in Budapest from 1-4 October, during the 50th EPCA Anniversary Annual Meeting.
On Thursday, 15 September, 78 students aged 15-19 years, participated in the French final of the European Youth Debating Competition held at the “Espace Hamelin” in Paris. They debated a wide range of issues, from the future of the petrochemical and plastics industry to resource efficiency, protecting the environment and reducing climate change, while ensuring technical progress and innovation.
Michel Loubry, West Region Director for PlasticsEurope kicked off the debate as pro speaker in favour of plastics, followed by the con speaker Isabelle Poitou, Head of “Mer Terre” developing her arguments against. The jury, evaluating the debating skills of the young debaters, was made up of Caroline Ciuciu (EPCA), Gilles Mignard (SABIC), Rovani Sigamoney (Unesco), Christophe Journet (MPE Media) and Alain Giocosa (SFIP).
Held in English, each of the 78 students debated the pros and cons of plastics’ contribution to everyday life. Taking the microphone for a minute each, they developed their arguments for or against the materials, the role of petrochemicals and their impact on the environment. Students overall recognised the important contribution of the plastic and petrochemical industries to modern day life, but also pointed out the concerns. Many agreed that proper waste management was critical and that consumer behaviour had to change.
At the end of the day, the jury faced an arduous task in choosing winners, as the overall level of debate was excellent. They finally named three winners: Gaïa Jeannot (Lycée international des Pontonniers de Strasbourg), as well as Alessandro Colossio and Eric Bertschy (both from the International School of Paris (ISP)).
The three young debaters will now join other selected winners at the European final in Budapest on 2 October. The final debate in this cycle will be organised and held in the Netherlands on 22 September.
The main objectives of the European Youth Debating Competition and its organisers from the petrochemical and plastics industry are to promote STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as to inform about sustainability and resource efficiency, all of them being key ingredients for the future of both industry sectors and the overall competitiveness of the European Union. To reach this, EPCA and PlasticsEurope have launched this new series of the European Youth Debating Competition (www.eydc.eu) targeting young students aged 16 to 19, throughout nine EU countries.