With less than a month to go to the second World Resources Forum (WRF), I’m taking a trip down memory lane to the inaugural WRF in 2009, where I was blogging as a Student Reporter.
While the environment itself was impressive to a student still immersed in classroom theories and game theory matrices, the feeling of change (or, forgive my use of British cultural terms, the ‘X Factor’) was missing from the air. The WRF succeeded as far as respectable international conferences go, but in terms of combatting the problems outline in the WRF 2011 Summary, it felt like progress was slow. A couple of changes that could combat this include:
1) Meaningful calls for action, or none at all: The Calls for Action 2009, while including nothing objectionable, added little to the debate other than summarising the general feeling in the sustainability field.
2) Walk the talk: students may be idealists, but it’s common sense that if you’re at conference about sustainable resource use, serving shrimps and plentiful meat doesn’t set the best example of optimal resource use. We had a promise on the blog last time that the food provided would change for the next Forum, so fingers crossed…
It is always going to be a problem for big meetings that it’s difficult to measure or prove the value of participants networking and sharing knowledge; all that the organisers can do is to craft the programme to increase the chances that meaningful interactions happen. In this respect, the new structure of concentrating on five clusters is a fantastic improvement from the WRF 2009 to 2011.
Networking in person is undoubtedly essential for to share knowledge and spread ideas, and it’s not often that the brightest minds in science-based sustainable development gather together, so grab your coffee and get learning!