International Development Conference Newcastle 17th – 18th February 2012.

Jessica Toale & Katja Ortiz Hintz

The challenge facing the world of supporting over 7 billion people is one that polarizes opinion. This was evident at the International Development Conference at the University of Newcastle this weekend.

After having travelled up to talk to planning and architecture students at the University about the role the built environment can play in addressing the challenges of international development, we attended the conference to hear from the range of perspectives present in the speakers.

The opening talks focused on whether urbanization provides a solution to or aggravates the impacts of burgeoning population? Dr Sandy Irvine in particular focused on the numbers and how population growth impacts on per capita consumption and technological innovation. A polemic figure he attempted to debunk a number of misconceptions around population studies, urban footprint and family planning.   

The later session focused on the innovation and technology transfer around the world. The ultimately optimistic Andrew Lamb from Engineers Without Borders pointed out that failing the existence of a third world to support our increasing consumption, all engineers fail if they are not responding to the new social, political and economic challenges that are affecting the world. Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Innovation & Science reminded us that technology transfer should work both ways between developed and less developed countries. The conference was a great event organized by the International Development Society at Newcastle University and we are already looking forward to upcoming events.

We also had some time to explore the city and admire the structural megaliths spanning the Tyne. Dinner at Uno’s Trattoria followed by a stroll along the Quayside and Millennium Bridge. The impressive Baltic Contemporary Arts Centre and Sage (although we weren’t sure about the interior exposed CGI roofing) lighting up the skyline.

Our Student Chapter network is extremely important to us at Article 25 and we are constantly expanding our network within the UK. Built environment students are the professionals of the future and it is essential that they understand the challenges facing the majority of the world’s populations. There are also lessons they can learn from operating in resource constrained that will improve their professional practice at home – two-transfer of innovation dividend.

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