First of all, having the biennial 2019 World Conference on Drowning Prevention in Durban, South Africa was a fantastic choice. The city of Durban with all its open water games, beaches, the view of the high tides of the Indian Ocean, the weather, the diversity of people and much more.
It was definitely an experience of a lifetime to have all the people from around the world, who care about the cause come together for the greater good. Not to mention, it was very thrilling to meet my fellow colleagues from the UK team.
Now let us get into it. I am going to take you step by step.
The organizers did a magnificent job organizing all phases of the event; pre, conference and post. I was amazed by how they put together for all of us the annual report of Lifesaving South Africa 2019. Of course they did not just print the program as a result of the competitiveness between the host countries every time. Remember Vancouver? 😉
In the bag that I received from the organizers, I was also introduced to P2P, Seabob, Restube and many more, which are all companies that provide rescue tools and equipment for lifeguards.
Nonetheless, let me take the time and show South Africa respect on their historical achievement for having the largest and leading convention centre in Africa; Durban ICC (Hosted the Climate Change Conference COP17 in 2011). Thanks to the Department of Sport and Recreation, all the attendees and delegates had the opportunity to spend a lovely time at the conference venue during the hours of the conference each day.
When it comes to the program and the papers presented, I was in awe to see how diverse the topic were to reflect on drowning from any angle and perspective. Our team and my team is proud to have played a vital role in that. I was ecstatic by the reactions we got from the audiences on our presentations about Drowning Risk Assessment Toolkit (DRAT) and the interventions afterwards, especially for the people in need for such assistance (We are also proud of the toolkit to help all NGOs that work on similar fields to allow indigenous people highlight their own problems and not impose solutions they may not need).
Another side of the conference was the exhibitions that accompanied nice antique stores. A lot of entities showcased their work whether it was academic, aid, humanitarian…etc.
Going back to why I mentioned that Durban ICC hosted the Climate Change Conference in the past, and now the Drowning Prevention Conference. This is very nostalgic for me having had the chance to attend COP21 in Paris back in 2015. And as our website states (if you have not gone through it all yet) climate change and drowning are interlinked. The risk of drowning is directly proportional to the former. Many might think that drowning is a separate issue that only happens as a result of people’s habits, which is wrong because the 11 billion tons of melted ice of Greenland alone this year would tell you differently.
Life and homes of millions are at risk because of the dramatic sea level rise that we could all witness, and then we would say goodbye to the world map as we know it. So let’s bring that with us in the next WCDP in Colombo, Sri Lanka 2021.