It is true that we tend to overdo the ceremonial elements, but well-organized conferences perform a vital function in public policy making and implementation. They concentrate the attention of the relevant persons, both in terms of preparing presentations and in terms of listening. Not all of it sticks, but if well designed, enough seeps through to improve performance in the relevant sector.
Next week, the Ministry of Disaster Management is organizing a large conference with national and international participation on the theme “the future we want — A safer Sri Lanka.” I am chairing a session and presenting a paper based on work we did for UN ESCAP on making ICT infrastructure disaster resilient to support more effective action in the relief and recovery phases. The slides are here.
I am impressed by the design of the event and the efforts taken to attract speakers on cutting-edge issues.