As the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) gets under way in Abu Dhabi, the real story could be the one that takes place behind the scenes.
The quiet work at WFES
As the World Future Energy Summit gets under way in Abu Dhabi today, the marquee events and ambitious sustainability projects will understandably get the most attention.
But for those who are keen followers of such forums, the real stories are often those that take place behind the scenes.
To be sure, statements by the likes of Ban Ki-moon and Wen Jiabao will grab headlines. After all, the leverage they yield can shift politics and economies worldwide. No doubt the speeches and handshakes of these leaders and other high-profile guests will be analysed and splashed across newspapers all over the world.
But just as vital are the relationships developed and deals struck on the sidelines of such conferences. As with similar summits such as the World Economic Forum or the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, politicians set global agendas on a public stage, but it is in partnership with entrepreneurs, financiers, activists and organisations that change is realised. Who knows what might come from a five-minute chat with Mr Wen?
The goals of sustainable development, in both economic and environmental terms, are admirable - international cooperation is crucial for projects in efficient solar panels, energy storage systems, water conservation policies and much more. And so are the quiet relationships forged on the sidelines that underpin these ambitions.