Sustainable Resources Conference Aims To Promote Collaboration In International Development

Published: July 14, 2003

A multidisciplinary international conference at the University of Colorado at Boulder this fall will showcase successful projects and leading-edge research on sustainable development around the world. The conference is co-sponsored by the Sustainable Village, CU-Boulder and Naropa University.

"Sustainable Resources 2003: Solutions to World Poverty" is a weeklong event, from Sept. 29 to Oct. 4, designed to attract a diverse mix of business people, engineers, philanthropists and grassroots development experts from dozens of countries. A portion of the conference will be open to the public.

"Our goal is to create a dynamic platform for connecting projects with resources that will facilitate more effective partnerships and collaborative teams working on sustainable development," said Steve Troy of the Sustainable Village, a Boulder-based enterprise specializing in appropriate technology consulting and sales that donates all of its profits to nonprofit organizations.

Conference participants will share practical solutions to problems ranging from a lack of drinking water to substandard housing that are widespread in the developing world. Topics will include renewable energy, economic development, eco-tourism and whole systems thinking, as well as innovative approaches to providing water, shelter and food.

CU-Boulder engineering Professor Bernard Amadei, who founded Engineers Without Borders-USA, said, "The best engineering solutions often seem simple, but they must be affordable, renewable and easy to maintain. It's these technologies that serve local economic development and contribute to sustainable communities."

An exhibition will run throughout the conference to showcase products that promote sustainable practices and initiatives by nonprofit organizations from around the world.

Inventors and entrepreneurs will display solar ovens, a bus that runs on biodiesel fuel converted from used restaurant cooking oil, and tools to make cooking charcoal from garden waste. Participants will learn about the simple but elegant technical principles that underlie sand and ceramic water purification systems designed by Potters for Peace and low-cost solid-state lighting that the Light Up the World Foundation brings to remote Himalayan villages.

Technical workshops will include the waste-free manufacturing strategies of Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives led by Gunter Pauli, and an overview of renewable energy by scientists from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. A special technology track will examine the impact of digital communications in developing countries and the opportunities they create.

The preliminary list of keynote speakers includes:

* Paul Hawken, environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist and proponent of corporate reform. Hawken is the best-selling author of six books including Natural Capitalism, hailed by former President Bill Clinton as one of the five most important books in the world today.

* Matthew Fox, described by Thomas Berry as "the most creative, the most comprehensive, surely the most challenging religious-spiritual leader in America." Fox teaches a response to our ecological crises that affirms traditional beliefs and shows their relevancy for the future.

* Hunter Lovins, co-author of Natural Capitalism, director of the Natural Capitalism Group, founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and for 30 years an internationally renowned advocate for environmentally sound development.

* Paolo Lugari, visionary founder of Gaviotas, Colombia, a community the United Nations calls a model of sustainable development. Gaviotas has regenerated a rain forest on barren land, replenished an aquifer, and produced hundreds of appropriate technology inventions and artistic, educational and social innovations.

* Stan Ovshinsky, honored as one of Time magazine's "Heroes for the Planet" for a lifetime of solving social problems with innovative technical solutions. Ovshinsky sparked a revolution against the internal-combustion engine with discoveries ushering in the hydrogen economy.

* Philip Berber, philanthropist and director of the Glimmer of Hope Foundation. Berber is listed by Business Week as one of America's 50 most generous donors.

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