After the introductory speeches, the meeting proper got under way with a plenary debate on the topic of ‘the consequences of the financial, economic and social crisis for equal opportunities and sustainable development.’ It was a rich debate, preceded by a number of keynote speeches. It’s invidious to single individuals out, but Professor Maria Joao Rodriguez delivered a characteristically forthright appeal for a Global New Deal, whilst UN Deputy Secretary General, Philippe Douste-Blazy, made an impassioned plea for voluntary contributions to ward off the increased child deaths already occurring as a result of the crisis (estimated to be somewhere between 200- and 400,000 before the end of this year alone!). There were many memorable ‘soundbites’. Douste-Blazy, for example, pointed out after the introductory sentences of his speech that twenty additional children had died around the world since he had begun speaking. Our African, Asian and Latin American colleagues left us in no doubt about the gravity of what was occurring. It was, to use a fitting cliché, a sobering occasion.