Call for applications Young Talents 2021 « Rethinking the city, from waste to innovative materials »

For the French version, please click here

« Rethinking the city, from waste to innovative materials »

Are you a Bachelor/Master//PhD student or a young professional with innovative ideas about urban design and sustainable development? Do you have change-making ideas about re- and upcycling urban construction and demolition waste within a context of French-Dutch and European cooperation?

If the answer to the above is yes, then apply for our Young Talent event « Rethinking the city, from waste to innovative materials » before  September 22,  2021.

What is the Young Talent event?

The Young Talent event is part of the Erasmus Descartes Conference, which is organised by the French Embassy in the Netherlands and the Embassy of the Netherlands in France. This bilateral conference is an annual event gathering over a hundred upcoming and renowned experts. The central theme of each edition differs according to the European agenda and following current developments in both countries. The Young Talent event offers ample networking opportunities. Click here FR / NL for an overview of the previous editions.

What does it involve?

The Young Talents play a vital role in animating and fuelling up the roundtable discussions during the conference. The event is divided into two stages. The first is a preparation stage, which will take place on October 7 and 8 in Paris at the Atelier néerlandais and Collège Néerlandais.

The second stage will be held in Rotterdam on November 17and 18. It will round off with the Erasmus-Descartes Conference on November 19, especially during two roundtables that will address the following items:

– Demolition/reuse

– Sorting/selection at European and national levels

– Innovation/labelling

– Transmission

Context and challenges

Following the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, France and the Netherlands are committed to supporting the sustainable management of construction and demolition waste in an urban context. We collectively embrace the challenges to make urban development and the construction industry more sustainable.

For instance, the Eurostat Environmental Data Centre on waste reports that in 2010, out of 29 European countries (the former 2 EU member states plus Norway), almost 60% of the waste generated is mineral and soil waste, mostly from construction and demolition activities as well as from mining activities. Accordingly, the European Union set a target of 70% recovery of construction waste by 2020 in the Waste Framework Directive. This objective is also included in the law on energy transition for green growth of August 17, 2015 in France, where almost 50% of building materials are sorted and partly recycled. In the Netherlands, numerous initiatives have been launched over the last 10 years, such as the Green Port for Rotterdam and the search for a minimum impact on energy costs for all new constructions, and this in a systematic way.

Both countries have complementary expertise on ways to recycle and transform urban construction and demolition waste into innovative materials. Together, we are natural partners to accelerate the transition to a sustainable urban development.

Participation in the Erasmus Descartes Conference

The conference will be based on discussions between experts, researchers, civil society, architects, designers, and entrepreneurs, in order to present concrete examples and areas of progress in terms of research and innovation, at different scales, from the most local to the European and international levels. This conference will consist of two roundtables and inputs from several keynote speakers. It shall deliver a manifesto to express a common declaration for further cooperation in sustainable and innovative urban waste recycling.

It shall deliver some guidelines expressing the common desire for further cooperation in sustainable and innovative urban waste.

Alongside the various experts (names will follow later), the Erasmus Descartes Conference gives the floor to the Young Talents with pre-assigned roles, which they will have prepared in advance with devoted coaches during 4 days. Some will be journalists; others will be co-hosts alongside the conference’s moderator. As these roles are not isolated and have the potential to intersect, participants will be required to work together to prepare their respective contributions.

During the preparation stage in Paris, you’ll explore the topic from various perspectives. Two experts (names to be confirmed), will coach you during the working sessions to help you get inspired, acquire indispensable knowledge, and become familiar with your role during the conference. In between both stages, specifically prior to the conference roundtables, you will prepare for the next stage, always with the support of your coaches, together with the other JT from your group.

Practical information

Organisers: The Young Talent event is organised by the French-Dutch Network for research and higher education and Nuffic, which is the Dutch organisation for internationalization of education.

When: October 7 and 8 in Paris (FR) and November 17 and 1  in Rotterdam (NL), consecutively participating in the Erasmus Descartes Conference on November 19 in Rotterdam (NL).

For whom:  BA/MA/PDEng/PhD students from any undermentioned domains of study, and young professionals aged between 18 and 30 years old are eligible to apply for this event. As simultaneous English intrepretation of the conference in Dutch and French has not yet been confirmed, international students are invited to apply as long as they speak or have at least a good conversational understanding of either Dutch or French, including speaking, listening and reading.

The event is open to participants from all scientific domains, but we specifically target the following profiles:

  • Urban studies / urban planning
  • Environmental studies / waste management
  • Architecture / (civil) engineering / (Industrial) Design
  • Green/circular economy, new business models, including ICT and logistics
  • Political and social sciences / history / journalism / media

Language: The working sessions between Young Talents will be in English and the Erasmus Descartes Conference will be in Dutch/French and possibly in English with simultaneous interpretation.

Costs: The organisers will cover the costs of transportation (travel between France and the Netherlands and vice versa), accommodation (two nights in a hotel for non-Paris residents and two nights in a hotel in Rotterdam for non-Rotterdam residents) and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner for both stages of the programme). You are responsible for the costs of any other expenses yourselves. The participation in the Young Talent event does not involve any initial expenses for the participants.

Participation: All 12 selected participants will attend both stages. Participation in the full programme is mandatory. Any unjustified failure (absenteeism, inappropriate behaviour) will lead to exclusion from further participation in the Young Talent event.

*Young Talents 2021 will only take place with the full implementation of the coronavirus guidelines issued by the Dutch and French healthcare authorities. With the latest developments, all participants will need the EU digital covid certificate to travel and to participate in the programme. In line with national and university guidelines, the nature of both stages remains subject to change due to evolving Covid restrictions.


Send an e-mail to Vicky Weits and Coralie Ostertag


Preliminary programme: