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Busy week in Brussels

On June 4, LPRC joined the FTA (Future-oriented Technology analysis) 2018 – Future in the making at the Square Business Centre in Brussels. The event is organised every two years by the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The conference opening was held by Vladimir Sucha, Directorate-General of JRC. The keynote speaker, Gerd Leonhard, brought a presentation on ‘Technology vs Humanity’ and reflected over the impacts that the exponential evolution of technology can have in our society and us as human beings. After the plenary, parallel sessions were held, and LPRC joined “The changing nature of work” and the “Changing the paradigm to build a sustainable future?” sessions.

After the opening keynote speech in the morning session, LPRC participated in 3 parallel sessions. The first one, about Scenario design for policy making, involved speakers from private companies, governmental bodies, and EU projects. Here, they talked about a scenario-based strategising approach, counterfactual construction of scenarios for the future, debiasing political decision making trough “value-free” scenario models, using science fiction and design to materialise scenarios, and the combination of scenarios with multi-actor multi-criteria analysis. The second session was entitled “Towards innovative approaches” and showcased many new and hybrid foresight methods that are already being used. At the last session, it was presented an in-depth review of current applications of the Horizon Scanning technique, including foresight radars and circular foresight processes. It was interesting to see how many companies, governments and EU projects are using foresight methods and future studies for various reasons and applications – and there are a lot.

On June 5, LPRC presented the !VAMOS¡ project at the “Social Acceptance in the European Raw Materials Sector” event organised by EASME. The presentation focused on the two stakeholders’ engagements that the project ¡VAMOS! had so far and general aspects of mining social acceptance, with the particular case of a novel technology as is the ¡VAMOS! one. The event brought together a diverse audience and many European projects sharing their experiences with social acceptance in the context of raw materials.

The EU Sustainable Energy Week took place between the 5th and 7th of June in Brussels. The main event, focusing on sustainable energies, was followed by many side events. One of these events, the “Upscaling Blue Energy”, hosted by IMIEU on the 7th, was attended by Tamas Miklovicz, where he presented the CHPM2030 project to the participants. Later that day, at the main venue, EFG and LPRC co-organized a session on “Decarbonisation of the heating and cooling sector: coupling efficiency and renewables with security of supply”. During the presentations, Tamas Miklovicz talked about multidisciplinary approaches for geothermal resources, including the CHPM technology, and Anita Demeny (EFG) participated in the panel discussion.

Symposium on Social License to Operate, Leuven

On the 21st of February, a symposium took place in Leuven, and LPRC was present. The event focussed on the thematic of Transitioning to a low-carbon economy and the social license to operate for mining and recycling of critical metals.

The symposium elaborated on the paradox of the “Importance of critical metals for the transition to a low carbon, cleantech-based economy versus the not-always-so-positive image of the primary mining industry”. On one hand, Europe undoubtedly needs critical metals for the transition to a desired low carbon, cleantech economy – however, it is import dependent regarding most of the metals, needed to reach this transition. On the other hand, society often has a negative image on mining, since historical extraction gave mining a bad name.

The members of the audience, who were naturally divided into “social” and “technological” groups, had a passionate discussion about this topic and its implications to society. This shows that dialogue is crucial, and not only that, but also opens minds too, in order to arrive to a common understanding between different stakeholders.

The symposium opened with two introductory talks. The first keynote was from Serge de Gheldere (Futureproofed), who proposed business-led, sustainable solutions, resulting new businesses, reduced risks, better branding and lower costs. After the keynote speech, a panel discussion took place. The afternoon session, begin with two keynote presentations from Egbert Lox (UMICORE) and Leida Rijnhout (Friends of the Earth Europe) presenting social and industrial viewpoints. The discussions continued with a panel and Q&A session with the audience.

The event closed with an concise talk from Marcin Sadowski, Head of Raw Materials sector, EC EASME,  where he presented the overall European policy approach to achieve sustainable goals.