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Spreading the word about our Sustainable Conferencing Initiative

24 May 2022

Improving the sustainability of research labs and scientific conferences is crucial given the threat of climate change, and the recent advent of remote meetings has helped bring this issue to the forefront. In response to this, we launched our Sustainable Conferencing Initiative in October 2020 to offer guidance and support on the sustainability of events. Viktoria Lamprinaki, our Sustainability Officer, recently attended two meetings to discuss this initiative and to meet with others working in the field of sustainability.

Sustainable Research Symposium

The Sustainable Research Symposium was launched in 2021 and was the first free and virtual symposium to focus on sustainability in research. This year’s event was organised by Green Labs NL and took place on 19 May 2022. The symposium had a hybrid format, with some delegates gathering at the Princess Maxima Centre in Utrecht and others attending online.

Viktoria took part in a panel discussion centred on the issue of making scientific conferences more sustainable. Other panellists included Jeroen Dobbelaere, a researcher and sustainability advocate at Max Perutz Labs in Vienna, Brendan Rouse, Environmental Officer at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, and Leonard Burtscher, an astronomer at Leiden Observatory who is interested in sustainable development and co-chairs the observatory’s sustainability committee.

“I want to thank Green Labs NL for the opportunity to be part of such an interesting conversation,” Viktoria said. “Understanding what sustainability means in science and how it can be integrated in scientific research is something I’m passionate about. I was therefore delighted to join the Sustainable Research Symposium, an event whose core values revolve around planet and people”.

 

Annual meeting of the Max Planck Sustainability Network

The Max Planck Sustainability Network (MPSN) consists of more than 40 sustainability groups at Max Planck institutes across Germany. They meet annually to share knowledge and to elect the steering committee for that year. “This annual event is an excellent initiative from the MPSN that offers insights on how to make institutes more sustainable,” Viktoria explained.

This year’s theme was Circular Science: Supply & Waste. Sessions covered how to procure laboratory equipment sustainably and ways to dispose of it when no longer needed, including transferring useful instruments to researchers in developing countries. There was also discussion of the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework, and how this can be successfully implemented.

Like the Sustainable Research Symposium, this event was hybrid, with some attendees meeting at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt. Viktoria attended virtually, giving a talk on 20 May about sustainable conference management. She covered the planning process, from inception to delivery, and considered the pros and cons associated with incorporating sustainable practices. “I want to thank Jan Heidelberger and the MPSN Steering Committee for inviting me to discuss sustainable conference management,” Viktoria said.

 

Find out more about our Sustainable Conferencing Initiative and our Sustainable Conferencing Grants, which were created to help finance innovative ideas that enable meetings to take place with reduced impact on the environment.


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