Innovation driven by sustainability to shape future cities: Dr. Haessler

Dr. Christian Haessler, head of Global Sustainability, Covestro, delivered a campus talk at Taipei European School (TES) on Oct. 4. (The China Post)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Millions of people took to the streets last month, uniting across countries, cultures and generations to demand urgent action on the escalating ecological emergency, the rising global population and loss of biological diversity.

Understanding these pressing issues, which are summarized in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) — a global blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all — is essential to shaping our future cities with sustainability, especially for young people.

Achieving a Better and More Sustainable Future

Dr. Christian Haessler, head of Global Sustainability, Covestro, shared this observation on Oct. 3 during a luncheon co-hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan (ECCT) and The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham).

A student from TES is wondering whether “auto-regulations” will boost support for mobility development in the future. (The China Post)
A student from TES is wondering whether “auto-regulations” will boost support for mobility development in the future. (The China Post)

“This is an ongoing discussion with younger generations worldwide,” Haessler told The China Post, stressing that Covestro’s most successful projects last year were all about innovation inspired by sustainability. “We have been following on this trend for many years,” he said about the circular economy — an “innovative economic system that requires co-operation, new business models and chemistry knowledge”

Covestro is a LEAD company of the United Nations Global Compact, as well as a nominee in the finals for the 2019 German President’s Award (German Future Prize) with the technology for using CO2 exhaust gas in plastics production to save crude oil.

“Plastic products can be manufactured with carbon dioxide (CO2) instead of using crude oil,” Haessler said. “This is an innovative contribution to resource efficiency and a circular economy.” Covestro and RWTH Aachen University are also working on the manufacture of synthetic fibers and other chemicals using CO2.

Christian Haessler shared how Covestro is dedicated to the development of future cities. (The China Post)
Christian Haessler shared how Covestro is dedicated to the development of future cities. (The China Post)

Finding Innovative Material Solutions

According to the United Nations, nearly seven in 10 people around the world will live in cities by 2050. As a result, migration to urban areas is expected to have a strong impact on housing costs, energy consumption, transportation and other issues that are tackled through the UN SDGs. As a leading producer of high-tech polymers, Covestro is committed to finding innovative material solutions to advance the livability of our cities.

The development of urban infrastructure, efficient construction, sustainable power supply as well as the future of mobility require the adoption of proper standards by city planners, Haessler pointed out. “We need a customer-oriented approach to address increased urbanization, including lifestyle, transportation, energy-efficient solutions and construction materials.”

Against this backdrop, youth have an important role in society today and tomorrow. Covestro has developed programs at global and regional levels for young people across all age groups. Since 2017, it has partnered with the United Nations for its “Young Champions of the Earth” competition, aimed at young people aged between 18 and 30 with a big idea for the world’s future.

“Our business, our industry, our CSR are all related to the sustainable goals (UN SDGs),” said Haessler, who stressed the importance of developing a circular economy in which plastic can be reused. “Plastic is also a solution for a more sustainable world. The question is what happens after it is used,” he remarked.

Covestro also promoted the idea of a holistic approach to circular economy during the 2019 CommonWealth International CSR Forum on “Youth Empowerment.”
Covestro also promoted the idea of a holistic approach to a circular economy during the 2019 CommonWealth International CSR Forum on “Youth Empowerment.”

Contribute to the Development of a Circular Economy

The company reaches thousands of children worldwide every year to teach science and sustainable development topics to future generations and drive climate action by educating kids. Its CSR activities in Taiwan include STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) programs with diversity and inclusion elements for hearing-impaired students and grandparents and grandchildren across Taiwan.

It also partners with national parks and museums for its environmental protection program and has reached more than 34,000 children within 3 years. Under the guidance of the UN SDGs, industries, academies and governments can tackle global challenges and make the world a brighter place together.

“Taiwan is quick in adopting new businesses. Today’s complex changes cannot be solved by one country. They are global problems,” Haessler noted. “Asia is a hot spot for plastic waste. We hope that Taiwan can contribute to the development of a circular economy.”

During his visit to Taiwan, he also participated in the 2019 CommonWealth International CSR Forum is “Youth Empowerment,” during which Covestro Taiwan received the Corporate Social Responsibility Awards for its progressive innovation in science education activities. He further met with students from Taipei European School to encourage them to think and live sustainably.

By Dimitri Bruyas, The China Post

 


The third Raw Materials Summit is scheduled for Nov. 25, 2019, in Berlin with the theme: “Carbon in the circular economy.”