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Tarragona, April 25th 2018

Life in Smart Cities debated amongst youngsters: with or without plastics and petrochemicals

EPCA and PlasticsEurope have organized for the third consecutive year the "European Youth Debating Competition" (EYDC).

The Spanish National Finals, held at the facilities of the Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, brought together more than 70 students in a debate with great success.

Winners of each country will compete at the European Finals in Vienna, on Monday, October 8th during EPCA’s 52nd Annual Meeting, the largest gathering of the petrochemical industry in Europe.

Students from schools and universities in Tarragona between 16 and 19 years old have had the opportunity to discuss how plastics and petrochemicals contribute towards the smart cities of the future. More than 70 students debated in the framework of the European Youth Debating Competition (EYDC), a multifaceted educational initiative, consisting of a series of debates aimed towards young people and organized for the third consecutive year by the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) and PlasticsEurope, the European association of manufacturers of plastic raw materials.

The Spanish National Finals was held in Tarragona on April 24th 2018, in the Aula Magna of the Catalonia Campus of the Rovira i Virgili University, where young talents debated around the theme "Living, learning, working and moving in the Smart Cities of the future: with or without plastics and petrochemicals". The participants were divided into three categories; a pro-faction, a con-faction and a faction of free speakers which had the possibility to present arguments from any perspective.

At the beginning of the competition, two experts introduced the topic, one adopting a position in favor and the other against, providing examples and data to support their position and discourse, giving a solid and rational basis to the arguments, channeling the debate for the students.

In addition, participants and audience members were encouraged to show their support or disagreement of the debaters’ speeches by raising green or red voting cards in the air. This led to a very interactive and enthusiastic debate.

After the debate took place, the jury, composed of representatives of the industry, journalists, professors, experts, EPCA and PlasticsEurope, analyzed the performances based on their public speaking skills with well-informed, logical and persuasive arguments together with their ability to interact with others. Taking these criteria into account, the three winners were Ana Navarro Bulló, from INS Martí l’Humá, Sharon Monné Tortosa, from INS Josep Tapiró and Laia Masip Gibert from Col.legi Aura. They will now have the opportunity to represent Spain at the EYDC European Finals 2018 in Vienna, on Monday 8th October 2018, in the framework of the 52nd EPCA Annual Meeting together with the winners of the 8 other National Finals. They will compete to be amongst the 10 winners.

To the students’ surprise, among the members of the jury were Ahlam Oulad, who finished 4th at the 2017 EYDC edition, representing Spain. Oriol Guinovart, a winner of another Debating competition organized by PlasticsEurope in Tarragona in 2008 and runner-up at their international finals joined her. They shared their experience with some of the students present in the debate.

The EYDC National Finals in Spain brought together senior personalities from both industry and academia, with the opening speech was given by Xavier Farriol, Rector’s delegate of Infrastructures and Resources and director of APQUA, who expressed " the Rovira i Virgili University is delighted to host for the third year in a row this great event. These events allow us to strengthen our commitment to spread the important social value of sciences and technology as essential tools to face the big environmental challenge as the one we are facing.”

From his part, Ignacio Marco, General Director of PlasticsEurope in the Iberian Region, ahead the constantly and fast changing cities expressed: "population concentration in cities is something bigger day after day, and smart cities will have to be adapted so we can move, work, learn and survive in there. Citizens will have also to adapt our lifestyle and support sustainability in our environment. In that, plastics are crucial allowing the use of a more efficient use of resources and collaborate to reduce emissions in the environment, for instance, through building isolation or lightening vehicle materials.”

Concerning yesterday’s debating competition, Ignacio Marco pointed out that “the debate and participation’s level of the students and the variety and quality of the argumentation exposed”.

EPCA Communication and Education Manager Nathalie Debuyst and member of the jury said she was delighted with the experience: "it is a pleasure to be part of this competition which gives us an opportunity to connect with a new generation, listening and learning about their views and expectations of our future."

This year, in addition to Tarragona, eight other national competitions will be held in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands in a joint (“Benelux”) participation, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Italy, Poland and the United Kingdom. The next EYDC national finals will take place in Zagreb, Croatia, on May 11th, 2018.

Editor’s note:

EPCA and PlasticsEurope have launched a new series of the European Youth Debating Competition ( targeting young students aged 16 to 19, throughout Europe. The main objectives of the European Youth Debating Competition (EYDC) and its organisers from the plastics and petrochemical industry are to promote STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), to empower students with soft skills and to encourage them to further discover and exchange on the contribution of plastics and petrochemicals in smart cities of the future. Whilst for industry, it is an opportunity to listen to the views and expectations of the next generation of leaders. Technological dimensions of this new era with sustainable mobility, energy efficiency, smart living, societal wellbeing, are key ingredients for the future of both industry sectors and the overall competitiveness of the EU.

The European Petrochemical Association (EPCA)

Based in Brussels, EPCA is the primary European Business Network for the global petrochemical 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 organises conferences and events in Europe offering members all over the world the opportunity to meet industry leaders and selected external stakeholders and stay abreast of international market developments as well as technological and societal trends. EPCA also supports members on specific topics that underpin the sustainable development of the global petrochemical industry. 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 petrochemical 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.