The Steering Committee has been developing a contingency plan to run CEC21 despite continuous challenges brought about globally by COVID-19. The key challenge for a global in-person conference is the continued ambiguity for international travel. The guiding concepts of the CEC series, which give it its unique character, include:
- bringing together perspectives from around the world to reflect on ways of responding globally to committed climate change in the wider context of societal transformations towards sustainability,
- providing a forum to jointly explore developments, anticipate future questions and challenges for academia and society, and invite participants to reflect upon their roles and activities by fostering a deep level of collaboration, exchange and transdisciplinary interaction, and
- integrating transdisciplinary and co-creative approaches to widen perspectives and contextualise discussions.
We are excited to announce planning is now underway for a virtual Climate Engineering in Context 2021 (CEC21) conference to take place over five days from the 4 - 8, October 2021. In line with the CEC series' guiding principles, we are pleased to announce that no conference fee will be charged for the virtual CEC21 in order to encourage open and inclusive participation.
After a series of internal workshops and external consultations with the Advisory Group and session convenors, we have concluded that global travel is likely to still be at least partly restricted in October of this year, and that – given the current immunization rates in Germany and other places around the world – precautionary measures (like limits on gathering sizes, face masks, physical distancing requirements etc.) may well still be in place at that time. They concluded the aim of trying to ensure global participation, international collaboration, and exchange under continued COVID-19 restrictions would be difficult or unachievable as an in-person event. We have compared the benefits of the following conference format options:
- an in-person event,
- a hybrid (online and in-person) event, or
- a fully virtual event.
The workshop series compared how each option enabled the CEC conference series concept and guiding principles. A fully virtual conference was seen as best option to facilitate open and inclusive critical global discussions given the current circumstances. We have concluded that an in-person event, given uncertain travel restrictions later in the year, may be restricted to be limited to German or European only attendees. Based on past experiences of committee members, a hybrid event would create a two-tier system and foster unequal exchange between those in person and those online.
The IASS see this as a great opportunity to reduce the conference's climate footprint and promote virtual conference formats as more sustainable and accessible for all. The IASS and the Steering Committee are currently working together to develop new online formats and modes of interaction, drawing on the IASS' extensive expertise with co-creative formats, and the Steering Committee members’ experiences with online platforms. CEC21 virtual will continue to develop the unique conference series with a strong interactive element. By harnessing growing technological advancements in virtual platform software, we expect greater possibilities for co-creative and interactive formats than previously achieved.
We look forward to sharing our new virtual platform with you for CEC21 virtual!
We will provide more details with the conference program, registration details, and other information in the upcoming months.
The CEC21 Steering Committee