Why do we walk? Experts to descend on Dublin for global walking Conference September 19-23

4 Aug, 2022

Walk21 Ireland, the 22nd International Walk21 Conference on Walking and Liveable Communities to be held in Ireland for first time

TU Dublin, in partnership with the Irish Government, will welcome over 60 speakers and around 500 delegates to Ireland this September for Walk 21 Ireland, a hybrid five-day global conference on walking and liveable communities. Highlights from the lineup include Prof Esther Sternburg, a world expert in the role of place in wellbeing, Skye Duncan of the Global Cities Design Initiative, Prof. Fiona Bull of the World Health Organization, and Angie Schmitt on Pedestrian Safety. Irish contributors include Shane O'Mara, Professor of Experimental Brain Research, Trinity College, Dublin; Dr Úna May, Chief Executive Officer of Sport Ireland, telling the story of the internationally applauded 'Get Ireland Walking' programme and Joe Seymour of the National Transport Authority outlining how it is delivering on the Irish Government's commitment to spend €1m per day on Active Travel.

The conference was held in cities including Seoul, Hong Kong, and Rotterdam. This year's event will address the theme, The Decade to Change, and will explore how supporting and encouraging walking can help deliver Sustainable Development Goal commitments.

Dr Lorraine D'Arcy, Sustainability Action Research & Innovation Lead at TU Dublin and Conference Lead for Walk21 Ireland, said:

“The Walk 21 conference series is the leader on walking and walkability in the world and we’re thrilled to announce the speaker programme. Over five days, practitioners, academics, planners, public health professionals, politicians and citizens from Ireland and the rest of the world, will share case studies and research, facilitate ‘walkshops’ and chair panel discussions. Uniquely, this year’s conference has both a national and an interdisciplinary focus, bringing government departments together along with a mixture of different professional practitioners and community groups.

“Keynote speakers from Ireland include, Ciarán Cuffe, Member of the European Parliament for Dublin with the Green Party and Dr Madeleine Lyes, Chair of the Limerick Pedestrian Network (LPN). International speakers include experts from Scotland, the US, Chile and India.

“As well as the conference advancing the international conversation on walking and liveable communities, we want to leverage cross-disciplinary partnerships and collaborative projects both in Ireland and with international partners, to empower local authorities and communities to manage challenges including climate change and the public health burden on lifestyle diseases.”

“The packed programme will cover topics including walking infrastructure for leisure or to get from place to place, the built environment and accessibility; explore the links between walking, wellbeing and physical and mental health and discuss relationships between walking and other modes of transport.”

Conference organisers are encouraging delegates and speakers to avail of walking-related social events while visiting Ireland for the conference, including Culture Night, Friday 23 September and National Walking Day, Sunday 25 September.

Bronwen Thornton, CEO of Walk21, commented on who they are hoping to see at this year's conference:

“This year’s conference theme is ‘The Decade to Change - Steps to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ and is open to walking and community groups, academics, planners, advocates, politicians and citizens to attend either in person or online.

“Since the first Walk21 Conference in London in 2000, the Walk21 International Conference series on Walkable and Liveable Communities has promoted the international profile of walking. We’re thrilled to be bringing the conference to Ireland and look forward to being joined by delegates to celebrate the importance of walking, re-imagine a world that is more walkable and liveable, and ensure a cleaner, safer, healthier future for all.”

For further information and to register, visit https://walk21ireland.com/