Moderating at a big sustainability conference last week I discovered a new kind of journalist, the ‘Tweet Reporter.’ In this case she came in the highly efficient and enthusiastic form of Dutch journalist, Gerdie Schreuders (@TweetReporting). Her role was to tweet highlights, bon mots, and unexpected boo-boos to the Twittersphere, and draw questions into the hall for further discussion. What a boon she was for me. With Gerdie concentrating on Twitter, I was free to focus on the content of the presentations - dauntingly high-level academic research focussing on how to reduce the carbon footprint of the transport sector – and on keeping the audience engaged with the debate and question/answer sessions that followed. In no time at all, #EeacRli (not the most catchy of hash tags!) had taken off …
As for the content proper, I needed all my wits about me to moderate a whole day of debates on ‘Keep Moving Towards Sustainable Transport’. The conference got cracking with an opener from the EU’s blunt-speaking Sustainability Commissioner, @janezpotocnikEU: ‘I don’t know a politician who got re-elected because he had a long term vision.’
Surprisingly then, given the abysmal sustainability record of the transport sector over the last couple of decades, the overall mood of the speakers was pretty positive. Partly because our love affair with the car seems to have peaked in the rich world, partly because technological alternatives – whether electric cars or hydrogen-fuelled cars – look like being realistic options at long last, fingers crossed. Why there are even plans to trial a hydrogen-fuelled car on the Isle of Wight, as part of its Ecoisland ambitions to lead the UK’s sustainability agenda. And that was the other positive glimmer on the horizon – impatient moves by what one speaker, Maarten Hajer (@maartenhajer), called ‘the energetic society’ to just get on and make things happen in the face of government inertia/impotence the world over. So here’s to ecoislands wherever they may be … and to Tweet Reporters.
For more on Keeping Moving Towards Sustainabile Transport: http://www.rli.nl/eeac/intro
For more on the Isle of Wight’s Ecoisland movement: http://www.eco-island.org