It’s mid June, 7 am, Brussels. It’s already plain daylight and pouring rain, so I have no chance of using my one-week bike rental pass this morning. Not even a Dutch would get his ass out on a bike on a day like this. Or… OK, maybe a Dutch would actually do it.

Anyway… time is passing. I’m eating breakfast. Checking weather: 12˚C. Surfing Facebook. Reading a couple of news. What a beautiful home with deep-green back garden I found on AirBnb! This one downwards. Modern age is a bliss!

And —- PAUSE —- right that moment the rain stops for 30 seconds. Then restarts.

I’m beginning to get dressed for the event. Verifying Uber, prices, distance, duration – quite expensive, 45 minutes ride, but no alternative, really. Tick-tock, tick-tock!

I’m filling the backpack: 12″ graphic tablet, external battery, charger, wires. I’m going fully digital this time and it sure counts as a change…

—- WAIT! —- A ray of sunlight is being born on the brown carpet and the wooden floor of the room and it’s glowing more and more and now there’s just drizzle outside and before I finish packing, put on my shoes and prepare to call the Uber cab, it’s already blazing sunny. I’m in awe!

I go outside, walk to the bike parking, cycle across town, and park it near the Tour & Taxis building, downtown, where I’ll be spending my next two days. Not a drop! Yet, just before I get to the entrance, rain starts again. I’m beginning to understand why an ex-coleague and friend of mine who lived here for 5 years moved only because of the weather.

Anyway, I’m in time for the beginning of the European Development Days 2016 (EDD16, June 15-16), where Nick Payne, Laura Brodick and I will graphically record some of the workshops and keynotes that will happen throughout the event.

EDD is quite a huge yearly event happening in Brussels since 2006. There’s tens of speakers coming from all over the world, hundreds of people from everywhere taking part, impressive artwork exposed in the space, teams of technicians making everything happen. It must be a titanic challenge to organise such a big conference.

Not to mention the diversity of the speakers and the roles that some of them play, like: Federica Mogherini – Vice-President of the European Commission, Ban Ki Moon – Secretary General of the United Nations and Her Majesty Mathilde the Queen of Belgians.

I’ve been covering 6 of the workshops that took place in separate rooms, with quite a small audience, but very applied and followed by thorough sessions of Q&A, unlike the speeches in the big hall. The subjects here were nonetheless enticing, as follows:

  • Sustainable Lifestyles – how we can make a systemic change regarding consumption
  • Ending Hunger – less than 1% of all development assistance goes to stopping hunger
  • Cooperative Models – two thirds of global economies are cities
  • Post COP21 – connecting the dots after the Paris Agreement over climate change
  • Technology Innovation for financial Inclusion – how to make finance accessible through tech.
  • Sharing Knowledge – with all the technology available, it’s still so hard to collaborate

I will let you dive into the drawings of each session (check the slider at the beginning of the article). Apart from my work, you can also find on Nick’s website the work of the whole team, both the recording of the keynotes and the recording of all the workshops.

It would be very difficult for me to summarise such a big event in any way. The topics have been so diverse and so complex that I would end up doing a booklet with hundreds of pages.

But I would say that the main common thing of all sessions was awakening. We are more aware of what is happening around us than we’ve ever been in the whole history, through research, studies, investigations. We have the facts and the figures that should push towards the actions that need to be done. Should it be a good enough reason to start doing the things that would have a real impact?

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