It was long overdue (thank you, COVID-19) but in November a team from the WFSJ finally made the trek to Colombia for an official visit to the site of WCSJ2022 in Medellín. In the course of just a few days, they were able to address a number of logistical questions that have been nagging the conference planners since the pandemic began last year. Perhaps foremost among those questions was the current state of international travel, which is making a slow but steady recovery. There are a few more forms to fill out, and depending on where you live, a COVID test (or two), but for the most part, airlines and airports have streamlined these step to a significant extent.
No less importantly, our site visit group confirmed that Medellín will be an outstanding destination for next year’s gathering. We repeatedly heard from the locals that this is a city that prides itself on getting things done, and they demonstrated this for us at every turn. We rode the most squeaky-clean metro train any of us had ever seen, toured a notorious gangland neighbourhood that now has an engaging hip-hop vibe, and visited laboratories where researchers are tackling familiar environmental and agricultural challenges that become all the more daunting when you live on the edge of the Equator. During the course of this trip we expanded our roster of highly capable conference partners, who will make the experience of visiting this community a very positive and memorable one.
Above all, we were able to sort out some of the most fundamental and important features of WCSJ2022, including our desire to hold this event at an incomparable venue. We found just that in Medellín’s Jardin Botánico, a 13-ha botanical complex that includes a full-scale conference facility. Come for the lush, sub-tropical forest surrounding each part of the event, stay for the engaging network opportunities with science writers from all over the world, and you will never want to leave. We were also told that this unwillingness to leave the country was the chief hazard of visiting Colombia; consider yourself warned.
Over the next few weeks we will be releasing details about the program for WCSJ2022, the partners who will be supporting the WFSJ’s work, and enough colourful details about Colombia to qualify it for any bucket list of global destinations. All of this will lead up to the opening of conference registration on Valentine’s Day, February 14, chosen specifically to highlight this country’s Number Two export — millions of flowers that make their way around the world for this romantic occasion. We hope by then that you will have become as enamoured of this extraordinary nation and its people as we are.
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