IHDP Open Meeting 2009 Report

Based on the contributions of 938 participants who define, challenge and implement the international human dimensions research agenda, the IHDP Open Meeting 2009 was a great success! The four days of the conference provided the participants with a variety of formats and opportunities for intense debates, ranging from high-level plenaries, 91 parallel sessions, about 25 special sessions and events, to a lively exhibition area for exhange and informal gatherings. The scientific agenda set by the International Scientific Planning Committee structured the conference according to four major “Social Challenges of Global Change”. It was a concerted effort to address the broad scope of the human dimensions of global environmental change research agenda that exceeds the “purely” environmental domain. It was intended to define these challenges in a way so that they both add to and complement existing IHDP research.

The presentation of IHDP’s core and joint projects was a crucial part of the conference. Their sessions represented real highlights of the IHDP Open Meeting 2009. Both the Global Environmental Change and Human Security (GECHS) and Industrial Transformation (IT) projects ran several sessions presenting their research findings as both projects will come to a close in the next couple of months. Both projects provided enough time and space, using the presence of the international community at the conference, to explore ideas for future research directions. Established projects such as the Global Land Project (GLP), Urbanization and Global Environmental Change (UGEC) or the project on Land Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ) successfully presented their currenct research portfolio in several sessions to the global community. New initiatives such as the the Earth System Governance Project (ESG), Integrated Risk Governance (IRG-project) and, in a somewhat less advanced stage Knowledge, Learning and Societal Change (KLSC) used the opportunity to kick-start their activities and to reach out to the large audience present at the IHDP Open Meeting 2009. Among the parallel sessions, contributions from the ESSP partners, from IHDP national committees, well-known research institutes, official “partners of the conference” and many more, enhanced scientific quality and a broad but focused scope of the scientific agenda of the conference.

As the organizer of the conference, IHDP is very grateful to those who made this conference possible with their financial and in-kind contributions. One of the major strategic goals of IHDP is to build capacity in global change research world-wide and therefore the attendance of more than 80 scholars who were supported by the funds raised was an outstanding success on its own. These scholars presented their research both parallel sessions and were often part of special events that integrated a distinct capacity and network building component in the IHDP Open Meeting 2009, for example as follow up to the IHDW seminars held last October in New Delhi. Given the great demand for human dimensions research these days and the opportunities stemming from being an UN conference at the UN Campus Bonn, the IHDP Open Meeting 2009, consciously reached out to policy makers and practitioners, for example by discussing jointly the challenges for “Science for the 21st Century” – one of the special round tables of the conference and truly one of its highlights.

The IHDP Open Meeting 2009 was the first Open Meeting influenced by the IHDP Strategic Plan 2007-2015. It contributed successfully to the implementation of its strategic pillars on cutting-edge science, capacity development and science-policy interaction. It provided the human dimensions research community with substantial food for thought, as well as many concrete research collaborations initiated during these days in Bonn. It clearly reasserted to us the importance of the human dimensions reseach agenda in times of rapid changes and motivate us to implement this agenda even more powerfully.