The 18th World Petroleum Congress also chose a sustainability focus for the first ever WPC to be held in Africa: "Shaping the Energy Future: Partners in Sustainable Solutions".
A social responsibility programme included plenaries and keynote presentations in the programme, as well as a special Social Responsibility Seminar alongside the Technical Programme of the Congress, which brought together industry, government and NGOs, to consider practical solutions and examples of successful cooperation.
Taking its cue from many of the key challenges faced in Africa and other emerging regions, the Social Responsibility Arena from Rio also featured in Johannesburg highlighting long-term actions on environmental awareness, poverty alleviation and improving the lives of local communities, education and skills development, as well as health issues, particularly the prevention and management of HIV and malaria.
Social Responsibility in South Africa The Congress set up a unique Volunteers programme for previously disadvantaged young people in Johannesburg. 130 unemployed youngsters benefited from the special skills development and training they were given in preparation for working at a major international event. The organizers paid for their expenses and set them up with bank accounts, a first for many of the young men and women who had never owned one before. Their experience in customer care and event organization gained during the Congress resulted in many of the youths managing to finally find employment after the event.
Young people were also involved in supporting the official Congress Programme, with 75 students from South Africa and around the globe actively participating in the WPC Student Programme and being given complimentary participation at the Congress in exchange for their assistance with the chairs and speakers of the Congress. Armed with their CV's in their hands, the students of petroleum related studies received access to key decision makers and leaders of their industry. The South African committee made the inclusion of young professionals and students one of its main priorities and a further 100 students from South African universities were given sponsored places at the Congress to ensure that young people about to enter the petroleum industry got as much exposure to the industry's top professionals who were gathered there as possible.
"Our commitment to the young emerging professionals goes beyond this; we want to leave behind a legacy we can be proud of once the congress is over. To this end, we are setting up a bursary with a portion of the funds raised from the congress," announced Sej Motau, the Chair of the South African Organising Committee, shortly before the Congress. Education was therefore made the focus of the 18th World Petroleum Congress Legacy Trust, set up by the South African National Committee with US $1m to provide financial assistance to needy young South Africans per year who wish to pursue a qualification in petroleum studies.