Hungary: On the path to circularity – Report from Ökoindustria

4000+ participants, 70 exhibitors, workshops, live talks, professional sessions – The leading green expo of the CEE region has occupied the cyberspace.

Circular Economy online session at the Netherlands Pavilion
©Aaron Otte
Circular Economy online session at the Netherlands Pavilion

During this last year, we got used to many things – Online meetings, a plethora of video conferences and all kinds of virtual solutions. I no longer find it strange to put on a suit in my own living room and sit down in front of my laptop, painstakingly angling the camera so that I have a bookshelf as a backdrop for that extra touch of the intellectual style. But yesterday was the first time that I attended an online technology expo just sitting on my couch and sipping coffee from my favorite (slightly chipped) coffee mug.

At 10 am on Wednesday, the opening day, 70 exhibitors and more than 4200 participants entered the online platform of the sixth Ökoindustria conference, the leading green tech expo in Central and Eastern Europe. 2021 marks the first time that the expo takes place entirely online in the digital space. This year, the guest country is the Netherlands, represented by nineteen exhibitors and the orange Netherlands Pavilion.

The event was officially launched by the opening speeches of President of Hungary Dr. János Áder, the chief patron of the event, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szíjjártó, State Secretary for Circular Economy Attila Steiner and Ambassador of the Netherlands to Hungary H. E. René van Hell.

In his speech, President Áder focused on the fields of circular economy, water management and electro-mobility. Minister Szíjártó highlighted the universal and local responsibilities for environmental protection and the importance of cooperation between the economy and society. State Secretary Steiner talked about the necessity of a legal framework in order to help the circular transition and the importance of striving for resource efficient and competitive economy.

Ambassador van Hell highlighted that climate change is the biggest challenge of our times and that Hungary and the Netherlands are partners for a more sustainable future. The Ambassador commented that  the country has worked together with six other European nations to launch the Export Finance for Future coalition, which aims to integrate climate policy objectives into export finance. Mr. van Hell also mentioned two local initiatives, the Hungarian Circular Economy Platform, which the Embassy launched together with partners the Ministry of Innovation and Technology and the Business Council for Sustainable Development in Hungary – And the Lean&Green Platform, launched together with partners GS1 Hungary and the Hungarian Association of Logistics, Purchasing and Inventory Management.

Ambassador H. E. René van Hell delivers his opening speech at Ökoindustria 2021.
©Netherlands Embassy Hungary
Ambassador H. E. René van Hell delivers his opening speech at Ökoindustria 2021.

In the afternoon, while yours truly was lamenting that in the absence of a physical pavilion at a real-life expo it was impossible to offer visitors candy from the mandatory welcoming candy bowl (and sneak some of it out from time to time), a small crowd gathered when the Netherlands Pavilion launched the day’s Circular Economy session – Focusing on Dutch circular agriculture practices. Over the afternoon, the conversations at the Pavilion covered a variety of topics from waste management technologies and bio waste through green technologies to precision agriculture.

At 3 pm, the live session of the Hungarian Lean&Green Platform started, and the key words were sustainability, efficiency and cooperation. Ambassador van Hell mentioned a few examples of Dutch companies’ commitments on decreasing their CO2 emissions. Zoltán Krázli and Tibor Újlakán outlined the platform’s activities. The key findings of our Embassy’s recently published study on the smart & sustainable mobility market in Hungary were presented by Sustainability Manager Ákos Lukács of Deloitte.

The expo continues until Friday. All three days at 1 pm, the Netherlands Pavilion hosts a daily Circular Economy session. Here you can learn about the latest in technological advancements and business development in green tech and sustainability.

On Firday, at 2 pm a workshop by the Wetskills Foundation will take place titled Liveable Rivers. Wetskills organized the first Wetskills Hungary Challenge in 2019 during the Budapest Water Summit, co-organized together with the Netherlands Embassy, where three international teams pitched novel ideas for water solutions. In tomorrow’s session, presenters will outline the activities of the foundation, the innovative pitches of the past Wetskills events will be presented and a panel discussion will take place about the creation of the Livable Rivers initiative and fostering integrational dialogue.

Banner of the event
©Ökoindustria

Are you interested in today’s developments in green technologies? At Ökoindustria you can meet Dutch, Hungarian and international stakeholders, business owners and chat about the circular economy and sustainable business. You can also meet the team of the Netherlands Embassy in Hungary at the Netherlands Pavilion.

Registration is free – Come drop by and say hello!

Interested in precision agriculture? Join us at ECPA2021 in Budapest!
If you can’t make it to Ökoindustria then you can meet us at various exciting online events throughout the year. This July, Hungary will be hosting the European Conference on Precision Agriculture 2021 in which the Netherlands Embassy will also cooperate – Stay tuned for more news!