The 7th International Ecocity World Conference just concluded here in San Francisco and if a positive aspect exists about globalization, it could be seen at this conference. A buzz existed in what felt like a combination of the World Cup (the passion), the U.N. (the international flavor) and something like Greenpeace (the Green aspect).
We ran into a potpourri of organic architects, city planners, NGO leaders, and other interested in sustaining the earth as we know it. The speakers ranged from keynote speaker Jaimie Lerner, former mayor of Curitiba Brazil co-founder of the IPPUC, Parris Glendending (Former Governor of Maryland and President of Smart Growth Leadership Institute and Janet Larsen, Director of Research for the Earth Policy Institute and advocate for Lestor Brown's Plan B. Larsen mentioned how Plan A refers to as “business as usual” and most of us can see that that plan isn’t working. Plan B doesn’t just refer to the U.S. Countries like Algeria who depend on their oil revenue can see the oil-less future and continue to create solar and thermal alternatives to power their future. Imagine an oil country funding alt energy sources.
Even beyond the large scope of the noted speakers, we appreciated the little aspects that the conference offered such as the organic lunches served in totally compostable containers, the organic fair trade coffee and tea. We didn’t see any bottles or cans of Coke.
Like any conference, we did find little hitches in the program. During some of the Academic Sessions, although interesting seemed haphazardly bracketed. We sat in on one session of Historic Places, Ecotourism and Ecodesign figuring that the session would encompass sustainable tourism but turned out to more about urban planning and sustainability of historic cities (by Sevgi Yucesan), followed by Edgard Antunes Dias Batista who proposed the first Brazilian national bicycles route, and finally Suzana Gueiros who spoke about the protection of the Amazon Rain Forest. The topics seemed somewhat disjointed. We appreciated the passion of the speakers but they might consider offering some degree of empowerment to the audience. It’s not good enough to hear gloom and doom about, say the Amazon rainforest, but not have anything to do about it.
Maybe we’re nitpicking but we’re excited for next year's conference because it’s on with the sustainability show.