Having arrived in Utrecht highly motivated and looking forward to a great event, it’s time to take stock on the various inputs and activities of the first day. After the 2017 event set the bar (and our expectations) very high, this bar was, if anything, set even higher this year. The conference started at the Utrecht Science Park “De Uithof”, home of our hosts, the Copernicus Institute of the University of Utrecht, with a introduction session by the organizers, who both presented the network itself and provided all kinds of useful information about the conference. This was, in good NEST tradition, followed by two highly interesting keynotes: an overview of selected elements of Sustainability Transitions and reflections on transitions approaches in developing country contexts by Anna Wieczorek, and an intriguing observation of different approaches to creating impact with transitions studies by Marko Hekkert.
During the afternoon programme, the momentum shifted from front-line speakers to the core of the conference – the participants. In two blocks of four parallel sessions, participants had the chance to learn about the work of their peers, covering a broad range of topics as well as various states of progress – from “early days” research planning, over late stage outputs from doctoral projects to reflections on and summaries of research work by postdoctoral scholars. Keeping to the spirit of NEST events, the presentations sparked highly interesting and constructive discussions, some of which might grow into the seeds of future collaboration.
The final session of the day focused on the network, putting together NEST “veterans” with new joiners in discussing and planning future network activities. In this, voluntary, sessions a number of interesting suggestions and ideas were developed, which we will hopefully see turned into reality in the near future. Of course, the organisers did not ignore the social dimension of the event, so the day closed with a great conference dinner in a restaurant in the old Utrecht city centre. The dinner (traditionally) spilled over to a more informal come-together in the brewery next door, but that’s a story for another day…
The conference is far from over and there are many more exciting things yet to come, so stay tuned for more…!