Astronomers for Planet Earth’s Statement on Conferences and Meetings released

Events such as conferences and meetings account for a large share of the carbon footprint of astronomers as a community. Furthermore, the astronomical community is diverse and international, but this is typically not represented at in-person events. In October 2023 Astronomers for Planet Earth published a statement which provides guidelines for more sustainability, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion, in events organized by the community. This document is inspired by and draws from the work done in “The future of meetings” symposium.

First of all, we urge organizers to clearly define the purpose of their events and weigh its importance to choose the best-suited format. We encourage organizers to regularly experiment with new tools and approaches, provide means of interactions that are accessible and inclusive, take recordings for asynchronous fruition, determine a code of conduct and perform evaluations of attendees’ satisfaction.

If it is concluded that an in-person component is required, virtual participation should be granted to attendees who are not able or willing to travel, the meeting venue should be chosen to minimize the environmental impact of the event, whenever possible multiple events should be made compatible for overlapping audiences, the distribution of merchandise should be avoided. Organizers should also strive to provide food and beverages that are sourced locally, sustainably and ethically and minimize plastic as well as waste. Any choices in partial disagreement with these guidelines should be well justified by the purpose of the event and transparently communicated to the community. Furthermore, priority for face-to-face interaction (including funding allocation to facilitate travel) should be given to early-career researchers, and those from traditionally underrepresented groups.

We acknowledge that decarbonizing our meetings is an ongoing process, and we invite feedback from the community to further improve these efforts. Together, we can make a positive impact and create a more sustainable and inclusive future of astronomy.

If you want to contribute to further work on refining these recommendations please join the slack Channel #roadmap and/or contact Sarah Wagner.