International meetings begin to open up

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I am sitting in the waiting room at Rotterdam station, writing this blog, while I wait for the Eurostar train back home to London.  Because for me, October was the month when international travel began to open up.  I know this won’t be the case for all countries, and we cannot be sure that the good news will be sustained (as I write the infection rates in both the Netherlands and the UK are rising).  But more countries are developing plans to open up, and for those of us whose work is around international networking, this can only be a good thing.

Even so, international travel is not easy at present, needing proof of vaccination, and the downloading of forms, formalities, etc.

I have spent a few days in The Hague at the ISI Permanent Office (PO), chairing two days of Executive Committee (EC) meetings and also working with PO staff.  Unfortunately not all the EC members were able to travel, although I was pleased that our new President-Elect, Xuming He, was able to be there, and we were able to meet and get to know each other.  I can see we are going to work together well.  The main focus of our discussions was setting next year’s budget; working through the complexities of what a hybrid WSC 2023 in Ottawa might look like and working through the first draft of our new strategic plan.  We will be saying more about all these issues in the coming weeks.

Running a hybrid EC meeting is itself quite complex, given the different time zones that everyone works in, and not everyone was able to join us for each session.  But it was a good meeting.  We got through a lot of work, and there were helpful contributions from everyone.

L-R: Ada van Krimpen, Steve Penneck, Xuming He

It was a particular pleasure to meet the PO staff again, who I hadn’t seen for two years.  They are a dedicated team, and worked hard to make our EC meeting a success.  Xuming got the chance to see a little of The Hague, which is a historic city.  Such a pity we could not hold the WSC 2021 here, but it will welcome us all for the WSC 2025.

Earlier this month I attended the UN World Data Forum in Bern, Switzerland.  This is the third such event, and it was itself delayed from last year.  It was a joy to meet with friends from other countries and the UN.  EC member Gabriella Vukovich had chaired the programme committee and I had also been a member, so I was interested to see how the sessions worked out.  The conference was in hybrid form, with some presentations being on-line.  Although virtual conferences are of value, you cannot beat meeting people face to face, and having the chance to have a chat over coffee or a drink.  I was able to do a lot of ISI business in between the sessions.

I liked the App they used at the UNWDF – something for us to think about for WSC 2023, and also the way delegates in Bern could watch on-line sessions, rather like being in a cinema, and you could use the App to ask questions in the chat, just like the on-line delegates.

As always when you are away, business doesn’t stop and you end up working in between and after sessions.  And it always gives you things to follow up afterwards.  It was a busy few days, and I was glad that Pauline and I had booked a couple of days break afterwards in Interlaken.  A chance to go up some mountains and breathe some cool mountain air. 

In between the two international meetings, we had Statistics Day, and you will have seen my separate blog on that.  By virtue of the internet I was able to give separate talks in Sweden and Malaysia that day; and again later in the month in Brazil!

Steve

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