BY JAN HANSPACH
As we have promised in an earlier post, we now report on last week’s conference “9 BILLION AND YOU” in Maastricht. I will review the conference based on my very personal and totally arbitrary conference quality criteria: spirit, insight, and fun. From a good conference I expect that at least two of these are well covered, but let’s see how TEDxMaastricht performed.
1) Spirit: Probably most of you have never been to a TED conference before but some of you may have seen some of the recorded TED talks. That was exactly my starting point too, and I can tell you, the event did have the spirit I expected a TED event to have: high quality, entertaining and, maybe most importantly, inspiring. Inspiring for what? Well, hard to say. The intention was that we need change in the world to tackle the challenges that we have and those that are ahead of us (e.g. limited resources, societal conflicts, population growth). During the day quite often Gandhi’s quote came up: Be the change you want to see in the world. Well, that is easily said but hard to achieve, but at the conference there were quite a few people presenting how they were trying to put Gandhi’s quote into reality. Outstanding in this regard I found Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff talking about their peace jam foundation and Bart Knols about how communication or rather the lack of communication influences society.
2) Insight: Well, being used to scientific conferences where communicating research findings is one of the main goals, I would say that insight was comparatively not so well represented, but maybe that is not a fair comparison… and within a few minutes presentation time there is not much time to go beyond some key ideas anyway. Key ideas, in turn, were pretty well represented and covered a broad range of topics. If you were looking out for a new way of how to grow plants in the desert, how to grow in-vitro beef in your kitchen, monitor your sleep apnoea at home, or how to set up your restaurant to fit with the principles of a circular economy, then TEDXMaastricht was the right place to be.
3) Fun: Yes, it was fun to be there! There were many high quality talks, well prepared and well presented. You should watch yourself once they are online. My favourites definitely were: “Strategic quitting” by Paul Rulkens, and “Cutting through fear” by Dan Meyer.
TEDxMaastricht was definitely a well-organized conference, equipped with friendly people and delicious food, and it took place in the beautiful centre of an old Dutch city. And thanks to funding from partners it was free (you only had to be lucky enough to be invited). I found the whole thing a very enjoyable experience and I am looking forward to be invited to the next event. 😉
If you are not yet satisfied and you are still wondering what the conference had to do with sustainability after all, then watch out for our second post about TEDxMaastricht, coming up in a few days.