The number of Summit participants

The number of participants, 1002, was simply too great to be manageable. While it allowed a wide variety of people to be invited, it meant that many of those invited had precious little chance to be heard. The participants were broken into groups of 100, each dealing with one of 10 listed subject areas. Some of these groups covered extremely wide areas, such as ‘Population, sustainability, climate change, water and the future of our cities’.

These groups of 100 were still too large to allow genuine debate. The likelihood of being called upon to speak was low, with many people not getting a chance to speak at all. Given the fact that, if chosen, one was unlikely to be chosen to speak again, there was pressure on each speaker to raise their single-most-important concern, leaving no real opportunity to respond to other speakers and develop a meaningful debate.

It was therefore understandable that each group of 100 then broke into sub-groups of around 25, where there was a greater opportunity to discuss and be heard. The consequence, however, was that anyone who had ideas concerning matters being discussed by other groups had little chance of having those ideas heard.

Overall, it would probably have been better if there had been 300 participants broken up into 10 groups of 30. This would have allowed greater participation and a more sensible debate.