Crafting 2023 with you
2023 will continue as 2022 ended: with many acute crises and long-term challenges. Nevertheless, we should remain confident and focus on technologies and high-performance materials, says Covestro CEO Markus Steilemann.
I think many people feel the same way as I do: I'm quite glad that 2022 is behind us. A year of extreme global events like I have never experienced before. A year of unprecedented challenges – for all of us individually and society as a whole, for the business world and for policymakers across the world.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. We shouldn’t overlook the many positive moments 2022 gave us. In science for example, last year brought a lot of pioneering breakthroughs. The list of R&D successes ranges from plants grown in lunar soil, the complete human genome sequence to the first nuclear fusion that produced more energy than was put in.
And we also saw some major innovations in the world of materials. What “my” sphere, the plastics industry, has achieved, was impressively demonstrated at K 2022, our sector’s largest trade fair that took place in October in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Work towards positive change
Covestro’s motto here was "Crafting Connections With You". I think this expressed something decisive in a very chaotic 2022. Because crafting means: we can create something, move something, we are not just objects in a world shaped by climate excesses and bloodshed. It is up to us to work towards positive change.
And there are so many things that urgently need to be tackled.
Certainly, the acute multiple crises deserve our utmost attention. There is still no end in sight to the Russian war of aggression. Just as the world as a whole seems to be becoming more tense and unpredictable. The economic forecasts are going down, the inflation rates up, while we are mired in an unprecedented energy crisis.
However, we mustn’t disregard the many underlying, long-term, creeping challenges. Mankind urgently needs solutions for climate change and climate adaptation, for the conversion of the energy systems. Our stressed planet has to remain habitable for what is now eight billion people. They must be able to lead a life worth living, even if we will see two billion more in just a few decades. We need to fight hunger – every tenth person is starving –, promote clean mobility and find ways out of cities that are increasingly becoming inhospitable zones.
The list of these challenges can be extended almost indefinitely. But practically all of them have one thing in common: in order to cope with them and create a truly sustainable world, you need technology – and future-oriented materials such as plastics.
Our industry is working hard to produce them in a way that saves resources and curbs emissions – such as the climate neutral and circular plastics Covestro launched in 2022.
Create a circular world
But there is something bigger beyond all these efforts: the conviction that we need a new comprehensive strategic approach. This is, in my eyes, the circular economy. A most promising way to unite climate protection, resource conservation and the protection of our fragile environment with sustainable ways of living and value creation.
To make circularity the guiding principle in the economy as well as in our private lives is high on my New Year wish list. I admit that it takes a lot of effort: willpower, endurance, readiness for change, inventiveness, flexibility. And a framework that provides ample room for manoeuvre. But it’s absolutely worthwhile – for us and for future generations. In that sense I'm very much looking forward to crafting 2023 with you.