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Towards sustainable conferences
"Where the word is the deed, that is integrity." Jiddu Krishnamurti W
- Has there been any exploration of whether video-conferencing would meet the identified needs?
- Assuming there's a decision to go ahead with a face to face conference, you may need to consider a balance and trade-offs between good venues and travel options, especially in rural areas.
Is there a listing of suitable venues in your region. If your region has a local sustainability network can they suggest appropriate venues? Or if no such listing exists could you start one, for example on this wiki?
Does your choice of venue support any local sustainability action or group working towards local sustainability or any aspect of it? Is the venue an example of any sort of sustainable construction techniques or materials or designing in sustainability? Do the facilities make use of natural lighting? Have any energy efficiency measures been adopted? Minimal need for heating or air conditioning? Water conservation? Grounds managed sustainably? Recycling facilities available?
Accessibility and Travel
Is the venue fully accessible? Is the venue well served by public transport? Are there any possibilities of arranging or encouraging liftsharing? Are there any possibilities for encouraging water-borne transport, park and sail, etc.? Can the event incorporate community cycle rides or sustainability walks? See also Sustainable transport activism, Cycling, sustainable community action
Paper used and eco-friendly exhibitions
How much paper will the event produce? Are there alternatives to consider. For example providing information via this wiki or other websites? A wiki might be used for
- designing and preparing agenda
- speaker and delegate information and profiles
- information on travel options
- questions to encourage participants to think about agenda items before the conference
- outlines of what kinds of outcomes the conference is seeking, and
- ways of continuing discussion on specific topics after a conference.
If paper has to be used is it as eco-friendly as possible? Do hand outs need folders, etc and are these eco-friendly? Do any displays use eco-friendly materials as much as possible?
Can you support any kind of local sustainability project, farmers' market, wholefood suppliers, etc? Is Food and drink locally sourced, organic, including vegetarian and vegan options, or fair trade? Are there alternatives to paper cups, plates, etc? If your region has a local sustainability network, can they suggest people to help with catering?
Will the conference exemplify for example recycling? Are there any ways to re-inforce the message and practice of recycling?
Can the event incorporate any use of complementary currencies?
Might these be 'Local exchange trading schemes (LETS)' type currencies? If some other scheme is in mind, what might they be? How might any such schemes work?
Especially if your event includes topics such as community involvement, to what extent are you 'practicing what you preach' or 'walking the talk' by providing extensive and innovative means for delegates to actively participate in the conference?
Involvement of local communities
If your event is not particularly aimed at the community local to the venue is there any way of involving the local community in some aspect of the event, e.g. exhibitions from local sustainability action, or practical, social or cultural activities?
Content of the conference
If the conference is about sustainability, or any aspect of sustainability, to what extent is the content of the conference, its presentations, workshops, etc really about sustainability? Is there any danger that it might look like the word is being used just as a buzzword, without much substance behind it? Does the conference seek to integrate the various strands - environmental, social, economic (and perhaps even spiritual) well-being - of sustainability? To what extent will any conclusions from the conference be actionable by participants?