I did get back from Brisbane last Saturday, but spent the next few days recuperating and attending to some backlog. During the IAAE conference I had concentrated on attending the symposium on Sustainable Development in Fisheries and Aquaculture: Challenges for Economists, which ran for a couple of days in the afternoon. I had a presentation, mostly on my engagements in supply-demand modeling for fisheries for the WorldFish Center. Interestingly, that was the only conference session on fisheries and aquaculture for the IAAE.
Aside from that I was in several plenary sessions, including the opening one with the Presidential Address by Prabu ("Agricultural Development through the Globalization Lens") and the Elmhirst Lecture by Hans Binswanger (on empowerment of the rural poor). Both interesting and stimulating, but not the best. Prabu I think should have devoted some time discussing whether the conventional arguments for the priority role of agriculture in development (Johnston-Mellor-Kuznets-Chenery, et al) still hold water in an open economy setting. Hans should have focused on his main topic, but his second half got diverted into agricultural investment and the usual issues favored by economists (market-led development, getting prices right, focusing on public goods, etc.) Another interesting session was the Impact Assessment of Integrated Natural Resource Management in the CGIAR, chaired by Herman Weibell. (Yes, the soft stuff can get some increasingly "hard" treatment from the econometricians and modelers.)
So that was pretty much it for me. (Oh, I got to see sheep shearing in the field trip. Fun, in a tourist trap sort of way!)
It was my first IAAE meeting, and it was said to be the best. It may well have been. Congratulations to the organizers, especially the Program Committee led by Kei Otsuka (that enormous program must have induced much vertigo). Here's to a thought-provoking - and healthy! - conference in Beijing 2009.