69th WDA / 14th EWDA - Joint Conference - Cuenca, Spain

Conference Greening

 The celebration of the Joint 2021 WDA-EWDA Conference will imply that around 400 researchers from many different points in the world will travel to Spain. With an estimated total CO2 emission of 1,200 tons of the last WDA-EWDA Joint Conference of Lyon (France) in 2012, it is estimated that the 2021 event will contribute with a carbon footprint equivalent to the emissions of over 200 European citizens along a year.

How can we reduce and mitigate the environmental effect caused by the 2021 Conference? The EWDA Sustainability Committee evaluated the contribution of EWDA conferences in terms of CO2 costs and identified that air travel is behind the 90% of the total emissions (https://ewda.org/bulletin-newsletters/). The first action to adopt is trying to reduce the number of participants that use the plane to attend the conference. Although the measure will obviously be impractical for oversea colleagues, European counterparts can make use of the European railway network to reach Cuenca (https://www.eurail.com/en/plan-your-trip/railway-map). The CO2 cost of a train trip can be up to 25 times lower than travelling the same distance by plane. The Organizing Committee has achieved a reduction of the fees on Spanish railways that will add attraction to the use of the train to attend the Conference. Alternatively, those planning to travel by car, can offer and/or request rides by emailing us at ewdaresponsibletravel@gmail.com. Where possible, participants departing from similar starting points will be brought in touch, to assist in car sharing; a Facebook group will also be created to facilitate this.

The second action is to mitigate the unavoidable environmental effects caused by the Conference. The Organizing Committee set up a series of measures with this goal in mind. A first measure is the organization of reforestation activities to which the participants of the Conference could voluntarily contribute. The EWDA Sustainability Committee estimated that the plantation of around 1,000 Mediterranean native trees will reduce the carbon cost of the Conference over a 40-year period. Three different tree planting activities have been organized for the 2021 Conference in liaison wild local authorities, environmental associations and locals, one in the afternoon of September 1 in the gorge of the Júcar river, and two whole-day reforestation/socio-environmental activities in wildfire devastated areas in the outskirts of Cuenca on September 4. Volunteers can contribute by applying to the organized planting events during registration to the Conference. We are looking after highly motivated researchers that volunteer to contribute to this greening event. Volunteers will be provided with all the required items, as well as with transport and food, to safely and efficiently contribute to the plantation of trees.

Finally, the Organizing Committee will reduce the environmental impact of the Conference through the use of local food products, avoiding the use of disposable tableware, reducing the amount of meat in the catering, promoting transport and accommodation sharing, setting up a specific APP for the Conference, reducing paper use, and reducing poster printing by setting up an e-poster presentation system. The Organizing Committee, in collaboration with the EWDA Student Chapter, kindly asks all the participants to bring their own cup or mug to use during the days of the Conference. For those who are not able to bring a mug, or forgot theirs, the Student Chapter will sell specially designed and sustainable coffee cups. All the incomes will fund the Student Chapter for future events.

The EWDA Sustainability Committee will contribute to promote reduction of the carbon footprint through the EWDA Responsible Travel Award or EDWART, an award for the participant travelling to Cuenca in the most sustainable (and original) way. EDWART has been created to challenge each of us to reduce the impact of travel to this event, as well as to stimulate our creative minds! All participants are invited to join the challenge and make travel to this event both more fun and more responsible!

According to the United Nations Sustainable Transport Conference, the answer to global transportation challenges is not less transport, but more sustainable transport. So, while the Organizing Committee tries to think of ways to keep the event itself as sustainable as possible, you are all personally encouraged to join the third ‘EWDA Responsible Travel Challenge’! This award is for the person or persons who have travelled to Cuenca in the most imaginative and sustainable way, and are able to provide the most amusing report about their trip. The winner of this award will be allowed to look after EDWART, the amazing plastic yellow reindeer that is certified CWD-free, until he is needed for his next mission. EDWART is surely produced very unsustainably, symbolizing our never-ending hypocrisy, but has now turned his purpose of life to the saving of the planet. He himself is a very sustainable mode of transportation, never flies, is a symbol of European Wildlife and most importantly the best company you can have to cheer you up whenever the troubles of the planet become a bit too much!

How it works

-  Think of the most sustainable way you can reach Cuenca from your origin. And since we need creative minds to conquer all the other challenges we are facing too: creativity will be rewarded as well!
-  The Facebook page can help you to find other participants traveling from the same place.
-  Fulfill your plan and come to Cuenca.
-  Along the way, save a visual summary of your trip (e.g. a picture, a poem you write based upon your experiences, the best quote ever, the map you used not to get lost…). Limit this to a maximum of 3 images and/or 3 sentences (exceptions are made for a short poem, song, or something creative enough for EDWART to like it).
-  Send your ‘summary’, together with a short description and the distance to ewdaresponsibletravel@gmail.com
-   EDWART will pick his favorite.
-   Remember: not everything on this planet is fair. This competition will be highly subjective, as EDWART will make his own choice for the person he thinks deserves his company. Eternal you-saved-the-planet-a-little-bit will be everyone’s price!

Note: the requirements for this challenge are not very high, however, anyone traveling by plane is disqualified. In case you are departing from overseas, your airport of arrival on the European continent will be considered your place of origin.