18 August 2020

The footprint of convening online

The 9th edition of the European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns (also known as Mannheim2020) is fast approaching. The event is part of a longstanding conference series that has, since 1994, inspired and catalysed urban sustainability in Europe. Most notably, the series has directly resulted in milestones such as the Aalborg Charter (1994), Aalborg Commitments (2004), and the Basque Declaration (2016).

In 2020, this momentum will be brought forward at the series' 9th edition, taking place from 30 September to 2 October, hosted by ICLEI Member Mannheim (Germany). However, unlike its predecessors, this edition will be held almost entirely online.

What does it mean to move towards a virtual event? While moving online has its challenges, it also means that we are able to forego accommodation, transportation, and catering for 1000+ attendees. Overall, since it is being held online, the total CO2 footprint of the conference will be notably smaller.

This is a result that we can celebrate, and which is very much in line with the conference's focus.

An online conference is, however, also not CO2 neutral. Electricity, materials, and services are needed to power servers, computers, laptops and workplaces of all attendees. Still, as an in-person event, Mannheim2020 would be expected to emit 1,791,320 kg of CO2, whereas the online version will emit only 8,424 kg of CO2 (MeetGreen, 06.08.2020).

In other words, moving the event online saves 1,782,896 kg of CO2 emitted, which is equal to over 7 million kilometers driven by an average car.

As has been done for past conference editions, Mannheim2020 organisers (namely ICLEI Europe and the City of Mannheim) are also offsetting the emissions of the event by planting trees in the host city of Mannheim.

What's more, moving the event online has enabled organisers to offer free registration, thereby ensuring that it is accessible to a wider array of stakeholders actively working to transform Europe's cities, towns and subnational regions to be more sustainable places for all.

For more information on Mannheim2020, click here. Register here to join the event and #TakeTransformationForward.