I attended this conference this past weekend in Copenhagen put on by my ex-employer, Project Syndicate. Firstly, it was really great on a personal level to catch up with old colleagues and see how the association has continued to grow. When I left in early 2007 it was around 300 newspapers in around 100 countries; it is now 429 in 129. All of this goes back to 1998 when I joined up with them and it was roughly 20 in 12 countries, so pretty great to revisit that growth.
The conference itself was attended by some major figures like Kofi Annan, Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs, Kenneth Rogoff, and George Soros, to name a few. The focus of the conference was on climate change, and speaking of Soros, perhaps the biggest news of the conference was when Soros announced at the Saturday dinner at the Copenhagen town hall that he will invest $1 billion in clean-energy technology and donate $100 million to an environmental advisory group to aid policymakers.
For me, one of the most interesting conversations was one I had with an editor from Israel, a former editor of the left-leaning newspaper Ha’aretz. He told me that while he is deeply cynical about the possiblity of a real peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, there is a lot of good happening right now. The lull in violence has created a space for the West Bank to prosper and he claims (haven’t checked on this) that the number of checkpoints in the West Bank are very few. Meanwhile, the economy in the West Bank has flourished and Israel has had a break from attacks from the West Bank. In fact, I was told that the security forces in the West Bank are hunting terrorists, and are very effective at that. Meanwhile, Gaza festers and fundamentalism is on the rise there. But generally, things could be a lot worse. Here is a good column reflecting on what’s going on with the Palestinians.