The urgency of social transition toward sustainability calls for creative solutions in our professional lives. To do our job properly as environmental educators, we need to open ourselves to new ideas, build international partnerships, reflect, and be reflected. While we may do a lot of it remotely, face-to-face meetings with our colleagues from other countries remain irreplaceable. Onsite participation makes the meeting more personal, emotional, and memorable, linking the event to a specific place and providing direct experience.
On the other hand, there are also strong reasons for online participation. For some conference participants, a brief overview of the “what is going on in the field” is all they need. For others, the travel budget may be the issue. In these cases, there is no need to make a journey to the other side of the world when the online platform may well satisfy your needs.
In light of this, we believe that the future of international conferences lies in their hybridization. The 11th World Environmental Education Congress offers both forms of participation: online and onsite.
Although we believe in the importance of meeting personally, we are also aware of the environmental consequences. That is why we have adopted a set of measures to minimize or compensate for the environmental footprint of the congress.
Here is a list of the measures:
The carbon footprint offset
The The carbon footprint of the conference was calculated by the CI2 institute. The carbon footprint covers the impact of the on-site conference activities, including accommodation. It does not cover transport carbon footprint to and from Prague. The latter can be offsetted separately either through the airlines or by contacting the WEEC office.
The carbon footprint offset of 7 EUR / participant is included in the conference fee.
We worked hard to find the real carbon offsetting scheme and ended up by creating our own. Most of the available carbon offsets are based on tree-planting, which works to the point when a tree is decomposed and most of the CO2 released to the atmosphere again.
The carbon footprint of the 2021 WEEC will be offsetted by equipping photovoltaic solar panels to environmental education centres in the Czech Republic. Thus the carbon offset on one hand reduces consumption of electricity (50% of it still coal-based in the country) while also helping environmental education centres lowering their operational costs and increasing their financial sustainability. Conference participants will see their offset money at work while taking part in the WEEC field sessions.
The centres need to cover the cost of the installation and invertors (approximately 40% of the total cost) in order to receive the solar panels. This condition guarantees reasonable installations. If the scheme proves successful, it will continue with installations at schools across the country.
The conference venue is environmentally-friendly
Although the Prague Congress Centre is a large building, its management is environmentally-conscious and a great effort has been made to reduce its overall energy consumption. Since 2016, the congress centre has implemented several energy-saving measures, which have resulted in a reduction in energy costs of 21 million CZK a year.
For the environmental education centres offering field sessions, environmentally-friendly management is an inherent part of operations. You may see examples of the latest eco-technologies used for energy and water saving, merging old traditions with modern technologies, as well as some examples of ecological farms. You can discuss and share your experience and ideas about them with our partners and perhaps find ideas for further cooperation!
We believe that the times of bulky printed conference materials are over. The congress will be paperless, with all the programs and posters being presented electronically.
Plastic-free, local and vegetarian coffee breaks
The congress coffee breaks will offer vegetarian refreshments made from local food products. All of the items for serving will be plastic-free. If you already have a collection of conference mugs at home, you can take your favorite one with you
Free public transport for the participants
As the City of Prague is one of the partners, the congress fee will cover city public transport. As a congress participant, you can use the metro, trams and buses for free during the whole week of 14-18 March 2022 and support green city transport.
Do you have other ideas about what we can do to decrease our impact on the environment? Feel free to contact the local organizing team.