In normal circumstances right now I would be working on the last arrangements for the UEIL Annual Congress that was scheduled to take place in Athens from 28 to 30 October. Unfortunately, due to Corona, the UEIL Board of Directors took the unprecedented decision to cancel this year’s Annual Congress. It was a very difficult decision, as we had been working on the program since last October and had introduced new elements to make the Congress even more valuable for all the participants, and I was very much looking forward to it.
As my current mandate as President is coming to an end, I was also looking forward to presenting the highlights from the last two years and sharing our plans for the next two-year period. As this is not possible, I will take this opportunity to share some of this information below.
There are many initiatives that have been carried out during this period, and once again all the Committees have done a terrific job in working on some pressing issues for our industry – conducting advocacy campaigns, driving access to technical information, working for a level playing field for our industry, supporting the safe use of lubricants, developing reliable data for our industry, and much more. On behalf of the UEIL Board of Directors and myself, I would like to thank all those who have put their knowledge and time at the service of the Association in the various Committees, as well as all the companies whose representatives participate. The Committees play a key role in driving the growth of the European lubricant industry, to the benefit of our members and of the industry at large. If you would like to know more about the work of a specific Committee or would like to bring forward a topic you would like to address, please feel free to reach out to me, the Secretariat, or one of the Committee’s Chair.
There are two initiatives that I would like to highlight, as they are important milestones for our Association.
First, the development and implementation of our new communication strategy. As our industry is difficult to explain to decision-makers, far away from consumers, and often connected to a “dirty industry”, developing a clear message and effective communication tools is extremely important, especially since the European political debate is emotionally charged and facts are not always used for policy development. It is of key importance for the future of our sector to address misconceptions and take a bolder approach to communications. With a clearer strategy, UEIL can be more proactive in defending the reputation of the sector, expanding networks, and managing increasing regulatory uncertainty and complexity. Our strategy is based on three pillars: (1) educate external stakeholders about the sector, correct misconceptions and explain the value; (2) sharpen the profile, increase UEIL’s visibility, and become a go-to association for policy-makers & influencers; (3) convince current (and potential new) members of the value and importance of UEIL.
We keep the world turning – We care about our impact – We drive growth and innovation are the three key elements of our story.
A second important initiative I would like to highlight is our work on sustainability. In 2019 we created a Sustainability Task Force composed of experts representing the whole value chain, with the task of defining the UEIL sustainability roadmap and strategy. In 2020, we established a Sustainability Committee to build on this work and define what “caring about our impact” really means for our industry. A very important task will be to create a framework for our members, with a focus on SMEs, which represent the core of our Association and of the European lubricant industry. For each strategic pillar (Environment, Health and Safety, Economy and Society), we should develop sustainability guidelines and KPIs.
Another important element will be to communicate to external stakeholders and policymakers that our industry cares about our impact and about making a difference in the long-term. This is a very important milestone for our association, and I dare say for the European lubricant industry at large. As the European Commission has made sustainability the core of its political agenda and launched the EU Green Deal, it is essential that we take the lead in defining, developing, and measuring sustainability in the European lubricant industry and that we communicate to external stakeholders that we care about our impact. As UEIL President, I am very happy to be part of this sustainability journey. I am proud to work in this industry and am a firm believer in the value we generate for society, and I think that it is important that we become better at communicating this to external stakeholders.
Looking ahead, in addition to the important advocacy work that is essential to the growth of our industry, we will focus our efforts on sustainability and communication, to further build on the work we started.
Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all those that are making my journey as UEIL President such an amazing learning experience, both on a professional and a personal level – my colleagues on the UEIL Board of Directors, the Chairs of the Committees, the Secretariat, and all the Committee members who through their work are contributing daily to drive the sustainable growth of the European lubricant industry – an industry that is a valuable asset to society and economy in Europe and beyond.