As a dedicated climate activist, I was excited but skeptical about the Africa Climate Business Forum. Typical conferences follow a standard format: speakers present in front of passive audiences while attendees exchange business cards. And for the most part, there are minimal concrete outcomes.
But this time, things felt different from the moment I arrived. Rather than generic name tags, we were given badges with QR codes that identified our expertise areas, interests, and skills. I learned these would be scanned to feed information into Ai matching algorithms.
The opening session confirmed this event was flipping the usual conference script. After inspirational speeches, we broke into small diverse groups for storytelling sessions. I shared a poignant climate change experience from my childhood. Others opened up about their motivations for being there. It set a personal tone.
Later, we were assigned to teams based on our Ai-powered analysis. My group of 6 had experts in agriculture, renewable energy, finance, and policy – domains that all intersected around climate solutions. A facilitator explained how we could best spend our time collaborating on a pilot project proposal.
The hours that followed were intense but energizing. Design thinking techniques helped us empathize with end users. The Ai-based composition allowed us to brainstorm possibilities we never could have individually.
On the final day, each team presented our proposal to the 200+ participants. I was amazed by the purpose and viability of the ideas that emerged. This conference achieved more progress in 2 days than most do in 2 years.
The mix of human connection and Ai was transformative. It gave me hope that, with the right frameworks, we can come together to tackle even complex problems like climate change. Conferences will never be the same for me after this experience.