Signs of Change Conference 

YouTube Recordings


The first decade of the 21st Century has confirmed the warnings of the previous fifty years - the "Business-as-Usual" development path is not sustainable. Air, water, energy, soils, forests, fish... over exploitation enabled by new technology and emboldened by new economies has brought the world's resources, ecosystems, and even the climate to the tipping point. The benefits of profligate energy use, new technology and economic growth are obvious, but the cost is degradation of social fabric and environmental viability.  But change is happening.  The Signs of Change Conference was a show-case for examples of fundamental change in a wide variety of contexts.


People from all walks of life were invited to participate!  The Signs of Change Conference brought together engineers, scientists, business people, council workers, educators, students, health workers, farmers, transition town members... anyone who wants to tell others about their successful initiatives in sustainability.  Our perceptions and expectations of the future are shaped by our experiences.  If we see and hear about signs of change in a direction that is fruitful, restorative, respectful and sustainable, then it can become our reality.  This conference provided an opportunity to make connections, share ideas, and learn what others are doing. Participants were immersed in an atmosphere of emerging sustainability and a sense of what is possible and what is growing from the ground up in New Zealand.  


Signs of Change Conference presented "Change Reports" by participants and observers. We have found successful people who are part of a fundamental change  to the break-away from 'business-as-usual' and towards sustainability.  We have reports from agriculture, energy management, governance, health, social action, education and many other fields.  


This conference is an innovation in low-carbon conferencing by using high definition dedicated video links between six centres: Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington, Palmerston North and Auckland. The KAREN communication network was kindly provided by the universities and the Royal Society for the no travel conference demonstration. Also, Invercargill and Kerikeri had conference venues connected by the internet.


This is a first-of-a-kind experiment in connecting people from all walks of life in a format using the latest information and communication technology.  Participants became a part of history by participating at their local venue, or by telling the country about a sign of change that they have been part of or observed.  It is not about what is not sustainable, or what we should change.  This conference is about what the change to a sustainable path for our people looks like.  We are all going to understand better, when we've seen, heard and engaged in the conversation about the signs of change that are emerging. 

Post Conference Analysis

I have compiled the lists of all participants and done the calculations and the numbers are impressive. You can read a full journal article where, together with Shane Orchard, I report on the conference and the amazing carbon emission reduction, minimal energy intensity, huge cost savings, increased participation and the feedback from the world's first networked e-conference.  Yes, it has been verified, it was a world first.  Some of the key figures are:

Number of Participants           250    (176 from outside Christchurch)

Participant Cost Savings         $146,882 NZD

Carbon Emission Reduction     85,000 kg if all out-of-town people came to Christchurch

Flight Time Saved                  428 hours

Participation Increased           284%