Global forest and paper industry CEOs discuss future; announce winners of inaugural Blue Sky Awards

The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA) eighth biennial International CEO Roundtable took place in Berlin, Germany this week. More than 20 forest based industry CEOs and association leaders from around the world met to discuss industry innovation, sustainability aspects, current political aspects and future trends that may impact the industry at local and international levels.  

 “The global forest and paper industry stands firm in achieving its sustainability commitments based on its common values. Today’s conference provides us with an opportunity to reaffirm these values in today’s interconnected and fast-paced world,” said Peter Oswald, Mondi Group CEO designate), who chaired the roundtable.

Keynote speaker Prof. Dr Michael Huether, economist and director of the Institute der deutschen Wirtschaft, provided insights about the effects of global political disruption on the forest based industry.

The next CEO Roundtable will be in Canada in 2019. 

Winners of Blue Sky Young Researchers and Innovation Award

Against the backdrop of these discussions, the ICFPA announced the winners of the Blue Sky Young Researchers and Innovation Award, a global award that aims to stimulate interest by young researchers carrying out projects in a wide range of activities relevant to forest-based science, products as well as process improvements or other innovation throughout the value chain.

The theme of the 2016-2017 global competition was “Game Changing Technologies for the Forest and Paper Industries – Unfolding Potential of Forest, Paper and Wood-Based Products”. Each participating country nominated national candidates to compete internationally. This year, 12 projects were nominated by ICFPA members to the international phase. Based on the assessment of a jury composed of experts of different regions and organisations, three winners were selected:

  • Koh Sakai, with the project ‘Cellulose nanofibres prepared by phosphorylation’
  • Shuji Fujisawa, with the project ‘Biocompatible nanocellulose/polymer composite microparticles formed by emulsion-templated synthesis’
  • Esthevan Gasparoto, with the project ‘Cutting-edge technologies for forest monitoring and measurement’

Two South African students among finalists

South Africa’s Sonja Boshoff and Ryan Merckel won the South African round and were counted among the 12 finalists. Boshoff’s work looked at the potential of biological and thermochemical technologies for the conversion of solid waste streams from paper and pulp mills into energy. She is currently a research engineer at Mpact Paper, Stellenbosch.

Merckel pitched his research on Catalytic Pyrolysis for Upgrading of Bio-oil. He has recently been selected as an exchange student with Malardalen University in Sweden. He is doing his PHd through the University of Pretoria as part of the PAMSA co-funded project with the Department of Science and Technology. 

“The ICFPA congratulates all the participants and the global winners of the first edition of this global competition. We believe it is important to foster knowledge and stimulate innovative research among young researchers.  Our industry is a vibrant and dynamic workplace for the future and therefore we will continue our support of students and young professionals”, said ICFPA President Elizabeth de Carvalhaes.  

The ICFPA represents more than 30 national and regional forest and paper associations around the world.