Through an ambitious sustainability agenda, Future Earth, Belmont Forum, and Future Earth Australia are aiming to make SRI2021 a “carbon minimalist” event. We approach sustainability in a holistic way, considering every aspect of the convening from the travel to Brisbane to the food that will be served during the coffee and tea breaks. SRI2021 Sustainability Report will be released and made publicly available after the event. This report will be used as a guidance for the planning of future SRI convenings.
To make the first convening of SRI2021 more accessible, cut down on the need to travel and make it safe and engaging for participants, the event will be streamed live around the world. An engaging program that offers both onsite and virtual participants the same engaging experience is a priority, and offers SRI a unique opportunity to take a leading role in designing global events of the future. While COVID-19 has led to the postponement of SRI in 2020, it has enabled us to rethink how we connect and engage global leaders in sustainability research, innovation and action.
Traveling generates carbon emissions, but there are ways to compensate for those emissions and to support significant environmental projects. We have partnered with ClearSky Climate Solutions to assess the event’s overall carbon footprint for travel (by air and car), use of hotels and venue. Based on an emissions analysis, we will purchase offsets for the conference through ClearSky Climate Solutions and benefit an environmental community project in Panama and Wisconsin, USA:
Native Species Reforestation and Restoration in Panama
You will support the reforestation of degraded and abandoned cattle pastures in the pacific lowlands of Panama. These lowland rainforest areas had been logged, farmed, and grazed extensively over the past 200 years. With your support native species will be planted in the rainforest. Beyond sequestering CO2, this reforestation project helps to reduce soil erosion, provides habitat and migratory corridors for native flora and fauna, and protects water sources including coastal mangrove forests. This project also addresses several social concerns in the project area, by reversing the trend of rural-to-urban migration, improving the socio-economic conditions of workers, mostly indigenous people and women, and building capacities among these communities.
Gordondale Dairy Methane Capture Project (Wisconsin, USA)
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas which has 21 times the greenhouse warming potential of CO2. Prior to this project the animal waste (from up to 875 cows) was stored in an open-air lagoon. With the current project cow manure is fed into an anaerobic digester, which processes the manure and collects methane gas, which is then burned as an alternative energy source. This leads to a significant reduction in the methane emissions from this facility. Beyond sequestering CO2, this project contributes to the development and implementation of green technology, generates clean and renewable energy, improves the air and water quality, and creates green-collar jobs related to manure and nutrient management, digester construction, and project auditing.
The emission reduction credits we are supporting have been certified and verified by an external, 3rd-party auditor.
We have included USD10 in the registration cost to cover carbon offset for all participants – whether they are participating online or onsite.
SRI2021 has chosen to partner with the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) to host the event, because of BCSE’s excellent record in sustainability. For instance, BCEC participates in AEG 1 EARTH. This program tracks environmental performance on energy and water consumption.
BCEC has also earned EarthCheck Gold accreditation. This global certification program, which annually reviews environmental performance, confirms the Center’s compliance with the highest environmental standards. Some of BCEC’s sustainability strategies include the following:
- Commitment to reduce/minimize water and energy consumption: BCEC recycles water to use in toilets and for the cleaning of its facilities. The building has achieved 30% reduction in the use of energy using sensor-driven escalators. LED lightning has been installed throughout its facilities, and improvements have been made to the air conditioning system to minimize energy consumption.
- Promotion of recycling activities: in the last 10 years, BCEC has reduced its contribution to landfills by 42%. BCEC recycles a number of items, including batteries, containers, e-waste, glass, grease trap waste, metal, paper and cardboard, plastic and timber. The Center is also an official QLD FluoroCycle Signatory. FluoroCycle is part of the National Waste Policy which seeks to increase the national recycling rate of mercury-containing lamps. The Center has installed an organic waste food dehydrator which reduces the total volume of collected food waste by 85%, producing a dry nutrient rich biomass which is used as a soil enhancer for Brisbane’s Roma Street and South Bank Parklands.
- Promotion of use of renewable energy: the water system at BCEC is run on solar energy.
- Commitment to achieve a positive social impact on the local and wider communities: BCEC has a strategic partnership with Tangalooma EcoMarines (TEM) to protect the marine environment and wildlife within Moreton BayPartners with Foodbank, Australia’s largest hunger-relief organization, which donates pre-packaged meals on a regular basis. BCEC’s kitchens are also actively involved in the local community, donating more than 140,000 prepared meals to the Foodbank to help feed Brisbane’s homeless.
More information on BCEC’s sustainability policy is available here.
BCEC and COVID-19: BCEC operates under a Site Specific COVID Safe Plan approved by Queensland Health. The Plan is integrated with ASM Global – VenueShield, the highest standard hygiene protocol, rolled out across 325 venues world-wide.
Food & Dining
Vegetarian meals. We are coordinating with BCEC to offer Congress participants vegetarian foods grown locally in Queensland, whenever possible. There is extensive scientific evidence confirming that plant-based foods significantly reduce the agricultural industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. Raising stock animals like cattle, pigs, chicken and sheep requires an immense amount of water, feed and land: the animals themselves – especially cattle – produce large volumes of methane gas, and processing, transporting and storing the meat from stock animals contributes significantly to climate change. Please note that additional dietary specifications and requirements will be happily accommodated.
Dishware, glassware and cutlery. We will only use compostable or biodegradable dishware and cutlery products for all meals served during the Congress, and we recommend that Congress participants bring their own reusable water bottles, since we will not be offering disposable cups for drinks. We also recommend that you bring your own coffee mugs. Reusable water bottles and mugs can significantly reduce the need for and production of petroleum-based products, and compostable tableware can significantly reduce our landfill waste and the substantial greenhouse gas emissions our waste industries produce.
Coordination & Planning
Digital Programs and Access. We will not print copies of the Congress program. The program, as well as other event material, will be available on the SRI2021 website and through the SRI2021 online platform, which will be launched closer to the event.
SRI2021 partners with Accor Hotels, which has developed a sustainability policy for its member hotels, Planet 21. Accor Hotels is committed to reducing water and energy consumption, to protecting human rights and safeguarding children against sexual exploitation, to integrating eco-friendly and environmentally-certified products, and to promoting equitable access to healthy and sustainable foods.
Please Do Your Part
Our Hosting Consortium offers Congress participants several meaningful opportunities to mitigate their carbon emissions during SRI2021, and as we prepare to gather in Brisbane to discuss the future of sustainability policies, we ask that you implement reasonable measures to reduce your impact.
We also welcome practical suggestions about how we can work to organize a more sustainable international Congress while still offering participants meaningful opportunities to interact and collaborate with one another.