The fundamental essence of sustainable development is to live and work in such a way that we do not transgress our planet’s ecological boundaries. Hence, our social and economic system must be designed in a just and resilient way. Universities bear special responsibility, as providers of scientific education on sustainability. They act as trailblazers and give impetus to ideas and strategies for sustainable developments in society.

BOKU is committed to sustainability principles in research, teaching, daily operations, in our organizational culture, and in working with and for society.

The sustainable responsibility is also put into practice with the first Online ELLS General Assembly & Forum and the ELLS Scientific Student Conference 2020.

Conferences have an enormous environmental impact. The average conference attendee produces over 170 kilograms of CO2 emissions per day. The total travel expenditure to and from a conference is hereby the largest contributor in pressuring the transgression of our planet’s boundaries. Choosing a venue with the shortest travel for all participants is but an irresolvable challenge. Therefore, an online conference is a good solution for all. A further example of environmental impacts at conferences are wasted food and water. Despite recycling and composting program efforts, a three-day conference for 1,000 people creates 5.670 kilograms of waste, that is about the weight of four compact cars.

Nevertheless, it is also important to consider the other side of the coin- relationships. Events allow people to connect, grow and develop. But not everyone can make it out to an event. Different barriers can make events difficult for certain people to access, for example, those with financial difficulties; pre-existing commitments or children to care for; or even disabilities.

Thus, virtual conferences can be an incredibly impactful tool to reduce our carbon footprint and enhance social participation. We are looking forward seeing you at this special first-of-its-kind online event.