Our visit to the Planet Budapest 2021 Sustainability Expo and World Summit

The event was organised by the Visegrad 4 under the patronage of the Hungarian President János Áder, held at the newly renovated Hungexpo. According to the official communication, the aim of Planet Budapest was “to raise awareness among the public, especially young people, of the negative environmental, social and economic trends and to show that these negative changes, which are overshadowing the future of humanity, can still be reversed.”

Áder János, patron of the event. Photo: Bence Juhász

Having the fresh experience of the exhibition in mind, I share the organisers’ optimism: the destruction of our natural environment does indeed seem reversible. I dare to claim this since I saw some really inspiring and practical innovations at Planet Budapest.

Horge Technologies, for example, is turning non-recyclable household waste into the future of mobility, hydrogen. In addition, Poliloop would launch a plastic-eating bacteria cocktail to produce land fertilizer from PET bottles in a question of weeks. Last, but not least, Platio is making solar-powered roads and sidewalks. These were just a few examples of the hundreds of companies in the exhibition’s portfolio. It seems that if policy-makers are willing to steer market forces into the right direction with adequate regulation, we can indeed solve the greatest challenge our civilisation has ever faced.

Great interest at Horge Technologies‘ booth. Photo: Bence Juhász

Even from a regulatory point of view, the exhibition could have been a useful opportunity, as many politicians, officials and diplomats all the way from Ecuador to Uzbekistan attended the meeting. In addition to János Áder, Polish President Andrzej Duda and UN Secretary General António Guterres spoke already at the first panel discussion. But the event also had its critics. Activists from Greenpeace Hungary put up a huge banner on the wall of the nearby Expo Hotel, calling attention to the government’s contradictions. They claim the government is performing greenwashing with such events, while failing to respect natural reserves such as Lake Fertő.

However, instead of discussing the problems of the global political economy, I would like to end this coverage with a cute anecdote. As I was standing at the Horge Technologies stand, I bumped into a group of children. They were developing a joint project with Horge in preparation for the First Lego League, a Lego robotics competition. The kids (Kastélydombi Nyerő Kockák) are working on a sustainable model of a chick frying robot that can safely fry meat during transportation. Of course, both transport and cooking are based on hydrogen from Horge Technologies‘ repurposed waste.

Kastélydombi Nyerő Kockák First Lego League team’s (9-13 year-olds) innovation. Photo: Bence Juhász

For me, Planet has shown that human creativity and problem-solving know no boundaries. So the number one problem we face when attempting to live in harmony with our natural environment is not a lack of innovation, but the inaction of global market and political elites.

Bence Juhász

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