EWB conference wrap up

EWB conference wrap up

30.11.2009 - Posted by
The EWB conference last week was fantastic by all accounts, with speakers including Don Henry, Michael Cathcart (author of The Water Dreamers), Eric Campbell, General Peter Cosgrove, Indigenous and Australian youth leaders from around the country and representatives from EWB’s partner organisations in many countries including India, Cambodia and Indonesia. It was a schedule rich in its diversity of both people and subjects involved in development work in Australia and internationally.

Climate change featured prominently on the agenda of day 3 of the conference for which the topic was “the future”. I was very impressed with the presentation by Anna Rose, the Co-Director of Australian Youth Climate Coalition, who spoke about the political challenges of solving climate change and the dedicated work of AYCC in mobilising youth to address this challenge. Patrick Hearps from Beyond Zero Emissions’ presented on technologies currently available to reduce the impacts of climate change and BZE’s detailed work on how these might apply to Australia.

In 2007/8 I volunteered on EWB’s Tenganan Water Supply Project in Bali, and it was very exciting to have Putu and Pak Mangku from Tenganan join the EWB conference this year to speak about the project, and their community’s challenges, successes and visions for the future. A workshop on the Tenganan Project was held for conference participants on Day 2, facilitated by EWB south-east Asia programs manager Kim Axworthy. The interactive workshop required participants to form groups and create a project plan for a selected task (e.g. pumping water to a village, education on water distribution) assuming they were the next in-country field volunteer. Their resources to complete this task were community members Putu and Pak Mangku, past field volunteers (Ian Cunningham and me), and members from the Perth-based volunteer project design team (Katie De Jong, Jerome Bowen, Kim Brackman and Gary Field-Mitchell). It was an excellent workshop and participants gained an appreciation for the complexity of working in-country and that addressing any task requires working very closely with the community with a focus 95% social and 5% technical.