A new narrative for multilateralism and globalisation

Dr. Kostakos has extensive experience working on United nations’ projects, as he was for instance involved in the preparation of the 2005 World Summit as a member of the Executive office of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Moreover, he held the position of Acting Deputy Executive Secretary on the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability put forward by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, whom he also supported as advisor to the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Changes including on the occasion of the COP21 and the resulting Paris agreement.

The United Nations need a new narrative for multilateralism – and the EU has a key role to create it – says Dr. Georgios Kostakos, Executive Director of the Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS). On a Prospex Institute event on 13th of September 2019, the former advisor to UN Secretaries General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki Moon presented on current challenges faced by multilateralism: leading States favouring national-level policies whereas global challenges such as climate change are requesting further cooperation. Georgios Kostakos highlighted the need for the EU to help foster a new narrative based on cooperation with other international institutions, putting citizens at the center of multilateral decisions.

The discussion focussed on the the future of the UN and their role in empowering citizens and civil society to have their say on global challenges – involving the European Union. Questions about the new European Commission and European Parliament highlighted the crucial importance of the next five years in defining the future of the European Union, and by extension, the role it will play for a multilateral global governance on the international stage. The need for a new narrative for globalization and multilateralism was seen to go along with a need to re-define the European Integration narrative as a way to trigger further engagement with citizens and allow for more bottom-up dialogue with international institutions as a way to improve legitimacy.

About the Speaker: Dr. Georgios Kostakos was involved in the preparation of the 2005 World Summit as a member of the Executive Office of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Moreover, he held the position of Acting Deputy Executive Secretary on the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability put forward by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, whom he also supported as advisor to the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Changes including on the occasion of the COP21 and the resulting Paris agreement. Georgios Kostakos is Executive Director of the Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS).

First SecREEts Citizen Lab in Norway

Following up on our very first SecREEts Citizen lab in Ellesmere Port, UK, in January 2019, Prospex Institute went to Porsgrunn, Norway on 21 August 2019. Together with our partners Yara, REEtec and SINTEF, Prospex Institute has joined forces with Vekst i Grenland to organise the first Norwegian SecREEts Citizen Lab. This meeting took place at the DuVerden Martime Center and Science Center, where a new exhibition on Rare Earth Elements was inaugurated in the morning of the Citizen Lab.

During this meeting, we introduced members of the local community to the SecREEts project. Discussions were based on presentations by SINTEF, Yara, REEtec and Vekst i Grenland, with interactive exercises dedicated to help the audience understand the strategic role of Rare Earth Elements in our everyday life and the impact of the SecREEts project at a local and European level. Participants were given the opportunity to ask questions, raise concerns and highlight opportunities related to SecREEts for the local community.

The feedback received during the Citizen Lab will help SecREEts understand the information needs of the local community, and co-design our engagement strategy. Future Citizen Labs will allow the project to integrate at a local level, building trust and transparency through continuous dialogue.

Policy Council 2019

On Friday 14 June 2019, Prospex Institute organised the first Policy Council of the Horizon 2020 SecREEts project in Brussels. This high-level meeting gathered experts and stakeholders from the European Rare Earth market to discuss challenges and trends related to critical supply of Rare Earth Elements in Europe. After and introduction to the industrial applications for Rare Earth and the EU’s perspective on the matter, SecREEts partners were invited to present their role in the project and answer questions from the audience.

In the afternoon, group discussions were organised by Prospex Institute and Quantis with experts in the fields of Life-Cycle Assessment/Costings and Social Licence to Operate in Rare Earth Elements manufacturing and extraction. This peer-learning exercise has led to some intense and fruitful discussions highlighting the importance of cooperation between social acceptance professionals and environmental impact experts to ensure transparency and trust with local communities and society.

A public report of the discussions will soon be available on the official H2020 SecREEts website: www.secreets.eu

First year of SecREEts: what we’ve done so far

A year ago, we were in Trondheim, Norway, for the kick-off of the Horizon 2020 SecREEts project. Earlier this week, on 5-6 June, we were celebrating the first birthday of SecREEts with our partners in Verneuil-en-Halatte, where our French partner INERIS is based. A lot has happened in one year, with the SecREEts consortium making good progress towards developing a European value chain for Rare Earth permanent magnets. This meeting allowed all partners to present recent developments. It was also an opportunity to meet with our Advisory Board for the first time and discuss the state of the Rare Earth market in Europe and the business case for SecREEts.

Prospex Institute was able to share the outcomes of the last Citizen Lab in Ellesmere Port, UK, organised with SINTEF and Less Common Metals. We announced the first Norwegian Citizen Lab which will take place in August 2019 in Porsgrunn with our partners Yara, REEtec and SINTEF. In addition, the Consortium Meeting was an opportunity to introduce our partners to the first Policy Council, which will take place next week and where we will meet stakeholders from various sectors involved in the Rare Earth market. The Policy Council will also be an opportunity for Prospex Institute and our SecREEts partner Quantis to engage with European experts on challenges related to Social Licence to Operate and Life Cycle Assessments in the critical raw material sector.

Registrations are open for the first SecREEts Policy Council

The Horizon 2020 SecREEts project is developing a European alternative to chemical separation of Rare Earth Elements and production of permanent magnets. Prospex Institute is organising the first SecREEts Policy Council in Brussels on Friday 14th of June 2019, from 10am to 12.30am followed by a networking lunch. The Policy Council will engage with stakeholders from various sectors to discuss the current state and future of the critical supply of Rare Earth Elements in Europe.

This event will also be an opportunity to meet SecREEts partners and hear more about their work and role in the project. You will be able to learn more about the new Rare Earth Elements manufacturing processes developed in SecREEts, and explore potential areas of collaboration.

The Policy Council will be followed in the afternoon by a discussion on the challenges of Life-Cycle Assemssents/Costings & Social Licence to Operate in the critical raw materials industry, with a smaller group of experts from across Europe.

To register for the Policy Council or the afternoon workshop and to get more information regarding the venue and the agenda, please email Clara Boissenin at clara.boissenin@prospex-institute.org or +32 (0)2 669 5440. Due to the limited number of seats, please note that registrations are compulsory.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No 776559 (SecREEts – www.secreets.eu)

High-level Conference: Local Energy Communities for Businesses April 29th in Ghent, Belgium

Transitioning towards clean energy, as is the ambition at the EU level, is crucial in order to attain a higher degree of equilibrium between our consumption and the planet’s boundaries. In line with this, the EU’s clean energy package is expected to be transposed on the national level soon. In this document, energy production at the local level is perceived crucial to foster renewable energy production. Therefore, one of the ways in which renewable energy production is being tackled is through the creation of local energy communities, both for individuals and businesses alike.

Although very promising, energy communities still face multiple obstacles to their development, especially regarding their legal framework. The high-level conference that took place on April 29th in Ghent and welcomed 150 participants, was aimed at presenting the latest information on the development of LECs particularly for businesses within the EU. The event was co-organized by the following partners: BISEPS, Interreg 2 Seas Mers Zeeën, ROLECS, STORY, Agentschap Innoveren & Ondernemen, Flux50 and Provincie West-Vlaanderen.

The perspective of Flemish LECs and the EU’s vision on LECs were presented, and what needs to addressed in order to make LECs work in Flanders and the EU, who some of the EU frontrunners are (UK, France, Austria) and what the needs of businesses currently are were all topics of lively discussions.

Flanders stated its ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2050, and in that respect local energy communities represent a way to contribute to attaining said goal. The EU is geared towards supporting innovation, but it also supports existing solutions, and raised the points of trend endorsement goals (such as social acceptance, monitoring and reviewing, easy administration), market access and consumer protection. Concerning how to make LECs work, the following points were raised: a business case exists but it should also be realistic and feasible, as energy transition takes time.  Some of the examples brought forth were social acceptance and inclusion, citizen engagement, (smart)digitalization, platforms for the system to function and added value for the specific end-consumer. Regarding the needs of businesses, issues such as regulatory stability, metering tools, data-sharing, risk assessment mitigation and income streams were addressed. 

Prospex Institute is proud to have contributed to this event through the design, moderation and facilitation of the workshops and panel discussion.

A 2050 Vision for Textiles

Imagine this. It is 2050 and you live in Flanders, Belgium. A circular economy. Almost all the textiles you own are not yours to keep: you are renting your t-shirts, your curtains, your winter jacket… You buy a mere 2 kilograms of clothing per year – those items that are most private.

The European market accepts textile products only if they are manufactured in accordance with recyclability legislation. Through a product stewardship scheme, all those involved in the product lifecycle are motivated to contribute to an environmental design and re-design of your clothes and other textile products.

Meanwhile, two streets away from your home, a high-tech factory – a so-called “tex-clinic” – takes back the products you no longer wish to use. At the tex-clinic, circularity professionals will ensure that these materials are either reused or recycled, flowing to a new life and user.

This, in brief, is the vision we developed at TOP-atelier’s backcasting workshop. Our workshop gathered collectors, sorters, local authority representatives, recyclers, technology innovators and sectoral representatives to look ahead and develop the vision of a circular textile system in 2050.

But the aim of the workshop was not to dream and visualise: it was to plan and anticipate. If this is 2050, what does that mean for the new government that will be sworn in this year? Where would Flanders need to be by 2035? What legislative changes would Europe need to enact to make this possible, and by when? And importantly, what can we – project managers, innovators and local authorities – do today to achieve our vision in 2050?

Prospex Institute designed and moderated the backcasting workshop, as part of the Flemish project Top-atelier, financed by Vlaanderen Circulair.

From pilot to scale: Resyntex engages with value chain players

Resyntex has moved into the real-world testing of its technology for the chemical and biotechnical recycling of textile waste, with the construction of a pilot installation in Maribor. This pilot demonstrates the integrated value chain from waste textiles to secondary raw materials. Whilst technical feasibility is proven, now is the time to gain business validation. 

Resyntex gathered key industrial stakeholders at its premises in Maribor, to share results in a transparent manner and to engage with business representatives on the necessary steps to transition from pilot to scale.

Whilst technical feasibility is proven, now is the time to gain business validation. 
Resyntex gathered key industrial stakeholders at its premises in Maribor, to share results in a transparent manner and to engage with business representatives on the necessary steps to transition from pilot to scale.

Together with the Resyntex-team, leading industry players looked critically at the  product-market connections that the project should pursue in the near future, and the role for Life-Cycle Analysis in this decision-making. Insights were shared as to the requirements that Resyntex’ secondary raw materials, such as purified terephthalic acid and dye-free recycled cotton fibres, need to meet in order to fit into current standards for manufacturing, traceability, certification and quality compliance. 

The third and last Value Chain Workshop, organised and moderated by Resyntex-partner Prospex Institute, convened the fibre, fabric, apparel, automotive and chemical industry. Bringing creative minds from industry and research together, the workshop made important strides towards valorising Resyntex’ innovation potential at scale, within industrial supply chains. 

Local Energy Communities – Exploring Research, Technologies and Regulations for their Implementation in Europe

Local energy communities and smart energy systems are key elements to increase the use of renewable energy resources at a local level, helping locations with weak connections to the national grid to maximise their energy independence whilst also reducing carbon emissions.

With the participation of European policy-makers and leading companies of the energy sector, the all-day event will feature the presentation of four H2020 projects (COMPILE, MERLON, MUSE GRIDS AND STORY) that are currently producing research activities on the implementation of local energy communities and the exploitation of smart energy systems.

A panel discussion will tackle the main points needed for the establishment of performing energy islands, considering innovations, integration between different sectors and technologies, and regulations on a international and national level.

In the afternoon, a workshop on energy local communities will take place, giving the opportunity to stakeholders and policy-makers of the energy sector to debate together around different topics: from the most innovative technologies to the impact of Clean Energy for All Europeans package; from the potential replicability of local energy communities around Europe to the business cases needed in the different member states.

Join us for this event, registrations are now open but we only have a limited number of seats available, don’t wait too long!

To access the registration page, please click here.

Increasing Innovation in Forest Ecosystem Services

How can we find the right balance between using our forests and protecting them? Redefining the way we look at our forests and the services they provide us, the SINCERE projects is developing innovating actions that aim at achieving a sustainable balance between using these services while increasing the protection of this ecosystem.

On 28-29 January 2019, the SINCERE consortium and stakeholders from all over Europe attended the Co-Design event in Leuven, Belgium. Organised by Prospex Institute, the Co-Design event brought together stakeholders from the business area, policy-makers, environmental associations and tourism organisations together to exchange with SINCERE partners on the design of the Case Studies and their challenges.

The two days event allowed for fruitful discussions between all participants, each using their professional expertise to provide key inputs to the SINCERE partners. The interactive design of the event allowed for harvesting important comments and suggestions from stakeholders that will be taken onboard by SINCERE partners in their work.