Youthquake 2030 gathers Pittsburgh’s young movers and shakers to discuss sustainability

It might not measure on the Richter scale, but a Youthquake will be felt throughout Pittsburgh.

On Sept. 17, more than 100 teenagers from 13 area high schools gathered for Covestro’s THINC30 Tank: Youthquake 2030 at its BrightSpace Energy Innovation Center in the Hill District.

The company is one of the leading producers of high-performance polymers in North America. Covestro formally adopted the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) in 2015. In 2017, Covestro held its first THINC30 (Transforming, Harnessing, Innovating, Navigating and Collaborating for a purpose-driven, sustainable future by 2030).

“Our charge was to bring the global goals local to Pittsburgh, our headquarters community. From there, THINC was born,” says Rebecca Lucore head of CSR and Sustainability at Covestro. “Its mission is to introduce and accelerate sustainable business development, public-private partnerships and social innovation in the Pittsburgh region.”

With Youthquake 2030, the company drew on teen energy for ideas. Discussions included how environmental, economic and social sustainability are exemplified by the UN SDGs and how to apply them locally.

Rebecca Lucore, head of CSR and Sustainability of Covestro.

Students heard from a wide range of speakers, including Aurora Sharrard, director of sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh, and Hana Uman, director of special projects for 412 Food Rescue.

The event was organized in collaboration with the Consortium for Public Education, which serves as a bridge between Pittsburgh’s business and education communities.

Teens came from schools affiliated with the Consortium’s Student Powered Solutions (SPS) program. Each team of students partnered with a business. Together, they were challenged to research and engineer solutions and to design, build and test prototypes.

SPS had already paired Covestro’s Future of Mobility team with South Fayette High School students. They are trying to forecast passenger preferences to gain insight into how materials can help advance automotive innovation, from car seats and bumper components to soundproofing and paint.

The Consortium will work continue to work with the schools over the next six to eight weeks to help kids solve their sustainability challenges. The teams will formally present their solutions later this fall.

This is Covestro’s fifth THINC30 event in the last three years.

In May, more than 100 civic and business leaders gathered to address the issues of neighborhood gentrification and displacement and develop preventative measures that promote the health of the city’s 90 unique neighborhoods. The ideas generated that day are helping create a Neighborhood Wellness Checklist, a user-friendly guide for grassroots community leaders.

Plans are underway for future THINC30 activities, which may include another Youthquake for teens.