On September 23rd & 24th 2015, the third annual International Conference on Sustainable Development convened at Columbia University in New York City. This year’s theme, Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: Getting Started, generated discussion on the United Nation’s recent commitment to promote its 17 Global Goals for sustainable development.
Our own Amrita University’s AMMACHI Labs presented a paper, titled “Training India’s First Female Toilet Builders: An Argument for Improving Sanitation Through women’s Empowerment and Social Inclusion,” during one of the conference’s sessions. The paper was co-authored by PhD researchers Srividya Sheshadri, Chris Coley and Prof. Rao R. Bhavani, Director of AMMACHI Labs. Our former intern Vidya Nair from the University of Waterloo presented the paper. During the conference, the paper was awarded “Best Paper,” as one of the six best papers presented at the conference.
A unique feature of AMMACHI Labs is that all team members spend considerable time working in the field beside the lab’s end-users. This gives our team members a firsthand understanding of the many challenges to rural development and sustainability, and thus helps them identify and innovate solutions to the specific problems of rural village life. Many conference participants were intrigued and impressed by the work that Amrita University and AMMACHI Labs are doing across India.
The conference attracted a range of speakers. A number of heads of state attended. United Nations representatives including Jeffrey Sachs, Irina Bokova, and Jan Eliasson also addressed the group.