Why is it worth attending IAPS 2017?

Read what Prof. Kris Wernstedt from Virginia Tech has to say:

The IAPS 2017 symposium presents an unusual opportunity for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in the Global South and North to meet and to challenge each other to confront unusual ideas. In my own environmental policy research, I too often meet only familiar colleagues at my discipline’s conferences, year-after-year, yielding enjoyable and fruitful discussions to be sure but ones that typically lack unconventional, out-of-the-box thinking and perspectives that can spark innovative ideas.

IAPS 2017 can provide a corrective optic by mixing the habitual with the unorthodox.

As an example, my current study of household solid waste in Dar es Salaam started with a perspective from the “North” that the chief challenge in improving waste management lies in somehow encouraging bad environmental actors to dispose of waste in more environmentally acceptable ways. This perspective is not “wrong” but it misses the all-too-obvious point—plain to me only after talking to stakeholders in Dar—that household solid waste collection often works reasonably well, but the system breaks down in the transfer of this waste to the area’s landfill. At the same time, the most common interpretation of this phenomenon by stakeholders in the “South” that I hear is that this breakdown reflects corruption and insufficient resources from the central government to local government authorities. This perspective also is not “wrong.” However, it overlooks the not-so-obvious point that we can borrow from behavioral decision theory to “nudge” solid waste actors to mitigate the transfer problem, by focusing on the collection fee payment system. My takeaway? Blending perspectives can inspire both conceptual and practical breakthroughs. And IAPS provides a unique forum for such mixing to occur.

Prof. Kris Wernstedt is an Associate Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA.