Conferences Need Environmental Policies

Scientists have been preaching about sustainable conferencing for decades, yet our new study out in Nature Ecology & Evolution shows that few conferences have taken any action to lessen the environmental impact of their meetings. We assessed advertised environmental impact policies of 116 academic conferences across 18 scientific disciplines and 31 countries. The major findings were
  • only 4% of 116 conferences assessed advertised carbon offset options.
  • only 9% of conferences advertised any sustainable practice to mitigate or lessen the environmental impact of their meeting
  • Sustainability Science conferences were no exception, with 0 out of 10 advertising carbon offsets and only 1 out of 10 advertising any action that could be classified as a component of sustainable conferencing
  • Ecology & Conservation was the only field where carbon-offset options were common place, but still, only half of conferences in this field advertised sustainable practices
We point to the rapid turnover of organizing committees as both an opportunity and a challenge for sustainable conferencing. Societies can facilitate consistent sustainable practices by creating policies and guidelines that make organizer jobs as easy as possible. For more information see
Holden, M.H., N. Butt, A. Chauvenet, M. Plein, M. Stringer & I. Chadès. (2017). Academic conferences urgently need environmental policies. Nature Ecology & Evolutiondoi:10.1038/s41559-017-0296-2 (open access link available for 1st month ).

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