The best reason to go to a conference is because you want to change something: either yourself, the people you meet at the conference or something about the sector that the conference is about. Ideally, going to a conference works personally and professionally when you come away from it feeling a change in all three of those things.
I have a feeling that will be happening a lot at our Global Water Summit coming up in a few weeks in Athens (27-28 April at the InterContinental Athenaeum). We’re bringing together inspiring people who are passionate about water and have the personal integrity to put their case forward, argue it and not pretend that they agree with everyone else in the room.
We have an important message to get out: that water is seriously undervalued as a resource and because of that we’re running out. We need to start paying a realistic price for it, otherwise nobody will get much and we will keep using it inefficiently.
But we will not be preaching to the converted at the Summit. We will have discussion rooms full of bright people who disagree with each other and we expect the atmosphere to be electric.
I’m looking forward to Gary White, co-founder and CEO of Water.org. He will, among other things, be hosting a Round Table on combining philanthropic and equity water investment for poor customers. He believes the global water crisis can be solved, in our lifetime, if we collaborate – and he sees the Global Water Summit is an opportunity to connect with new people and find fellow water collaborators. He wants to come away from the Summit with more tools in the toolbox; and he says even coming away with one more idea would be fantastic. Check out Water.org’s toolkits for using microfinance in WASH: http://www.washmicrofinance.org/ . He has an approach to the water sector that will stand out at the Summit because it is slightly off the beaten path but it works. I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say.