I recently attended the Sixteenth International Conference on Current Issues of Sustainable Development hosted in Opole, Poland in April 2016. 

The conference, titled “Generations for generations – priorities of sustainable development yesterday, today and tomorrow” was an exciting opportunity for me to share my best-practices from my work in Zambia with the Peace Corps, my recent classes and revelations from my programs at the University of Wroclaw, and to bring the voice of Amaterra – the non-profit which I’ve recently taken voluntary directorship of – to a forum focused on the need for new perspectives regarding sustainability and sustainable development from a generational approach.

I was drawn to the conference due to its synergy with Amaterra’s mission of promoting sustainability and conservation, and the focus on generational responsibility for the protection, and maintenance of the environment. A major issue that I faced during my time with the Peace Corps was how to encourage behavior change across generations, and especially how to encourage and promote discourse and collaboration which would enhance responsibility and accountability in sustainability initiatives.

Further, the premise of the conference aligned closely with Amaterra’s mission. The environment was positioned as the basis for the subsistence of humanity, but more importantly as the foundation of natural capital from which all other socio-economic processes originate. It is a necessary component of development and growth, and especially of sustainability, as it’s management is key to continued survival. How that management is carried out, and protection of that foundation including initiatives which bring sustainable ideals to it’s development in order to ensure its health, maintenance and enhancement are without question the keys to our future.

The Presentation and Conference:

On the 25th and 26th of April, 2016 I presented on the topic of “Sustainable development and community mobilization – through failure to success.” The presentation was designed to discuss the role of sustainable development, and specifically to address the necessity of a different view and approach to current and future development capabilities, primarily those of more contextual and comprehensive approaches to sustainable development. |I hoped to build a conversation and demonstrate that development need not be considered only in terms of sustaining growth, but more as a process through which a holistically sustainable closed system could be preserved. That system, properly developed and approached, would allow for higher quality of life while maintaining the health of the ecosystem and environment.

The presentations were well received, especially those which focused on the lived experiences of development recipients, and the challenges that they faced with the implementation of development programs that did not respect their voices or processes. More, bringing Amaterra’s perspective on sustainability and conservation encouraged deeper conversation and linkages and an invitation to collaborate with new partners and academics in future research. I promise I’ll dive into those leads in a later blog, but I can’t say how thankful I am for the opportunity to present and collaborate with the CIOSD.

The presentation and resulting short paper on approaches to sustainability were reviewed and published in the Central and Eastern European Journal of Management and Economics Vol. 4, No. 1, 41-61, March 2016.