The event took place on the morning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Jakub Mazur, the deputy mayor of Wrocław, opened the event, calling on all employers with Ukrainian employees to take particular care of their wellbeing at this tragic time. He said that there were over 100,000 citizens of Ukraine working in the agglomeration, contributing to its economy. Mr Mazur apologised for having to leave before the panel discussion started, to take part in an emergency meeting of the City of Wrocław’s crisis-management team.
Panellists were Agnieszka Rozwadowska, president of the Carbon Footprint Foundation, Mariusz Wawer, government relations and sustainability/ESG leader for Poland & the East Europe Region for 3M, and Maciej Zathey, director of the IRT (Institute of Territorial Development).
The discussion, moderated by the BPCC’s chief advisor, Michael Dembinski, covered the prospects for Poland’s energy grid, how to turn it into one based on renewable sources while keeping energy prices competitive – especially for manufacturers. Connecting wind-farms and solar-farms, energy storage and energy efficiency were discussed. The future of cities, reshaped by the pandemic and technology, was another topic for the panel. With remote work and hybrid work changing demand for office space will change – as will our commuting habits, and the very fabric of our cities. Regional competitiveness will remain a challenge, as regions across the EU vie for new investment and re-invest
People and skills are also crucial to the green transformation. Will the Polish education system be able to generate the graduates with the ideas and entrepreneurial talent to create endogenous innovation? Or will Poland have to rely for innovation from abroad? How must Polish universities change to ensure they work better with business?
Many interesting ideas came up during the discussion, including a suggestion that major manufacturers in Wrocław should club together to invest in R&D in hydrogen power to replace the gas-fired boilers currently used to provide energy to factories.
The event was held at the Bridge Wrocław MGallery, which laid on a sumptuous breakfast/brunch, ensuring that after the panel discussion was over, participants stayed on to enjoy the food and the company, and to swap business cards. The turnout was particularly high, suggesting a desire from among the local business community to network live as an antidote to online meetings.