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Striving for a more sustainable SEFS

Simon Johnson, Executive Director – Freshwater Biological Association

& Chair of SEFS13 Organising Committee


The Organising Committee (OC) of SEFS13 have set an ambitious aim to deliver a lower carbon and environmentally responsible symposium.

We have set ourselves three sustainability goals:

  1. Reduce carbon and environmental impact by making positive ‘green choices’ with suppliers of venues, catering, services and excursions.

  2. Understanding our carbon footprint and share knowledge with organisers of SEFS14.

  3. Explore opportunities for post-symposium carbon offsetting.


The OC want to figure out how we could use sustainable practices to reduce the carbon and climate change impacts of SEFS.  As ecologists and biologists striving to understand and tackle the impacts of the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis, this seems a logical step for us to take! Our efforts will also include collecting data to determine the environmental impact of our event.

What are we are doing?

We have also made some bold decisions to reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact of SEFS, including:

  • Vegan food / drinks at all venues and events

  • City centre location to encourage use of public transport

  • Conference App to reduce print waste and paper usage

  • Generating the SEFS13 carbon footprint

  • Using digital displays to reduce usage of single use signage.

  • Avoiding use of unnecessary single use plastics.

  • Working with local suppliers to source sustainable food and minimise food waste (surplus food to be donated to local charities)

What can you do?

Here are a few things you can do to help:

  • Bring your own reusable water bottle and fill it at the conference centre stations.

  • Use the reusable stainless-steel coffee / tea cup issued to all delegates

  • Bring your own toiletries and use them

  • Eat 100% vegan during the conference

  • Carshare or find other carbon friendly transportation

  • Rethink your needs and waste

  • Reuse towels and bedding in your hotel room

  • Complete our questionnaire (in the SEFS13 App) to help us better understand the carbon footprint of the conference.

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Enjoy coffee / tea in your reusable thermal cup throughout SEFS13!

Our goals are to create baseline data and to share sustainable conference practices with the organisers of SEFS14 to try and reduce the negative carbon and climate change impacts of future symposiums. We also share our knowledge with others interested in hosting environmentally sustainable events.

However, we are learning by doing and may not get everything right. The post conference evaluation will provide delegates with an opportunity to tell the Organising Committee where we could have done better.

“It is important to take action and realize that we can make a difference, and this will encourage others to take action, and then we realize we are not alone and our cumulative actions truly make an even greater difference.”

~ Jane Goodall in The Book of Hope

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