Conferencing with CEED

From little tweets to big cities

How many metric tonnes of carbon are emitted in travelling to an international environmental conference (including all those airplane miles as delegates jet in from afar)? Five? Five hundred? How about zero? Well that was the carbon footprint of CEED’s inaugural Twitter Conference (#CEEDTC2018) which we ran on 22 May (and coincided with the International Day for Biological Diversity).

Our first Twitter Conference was a huge success! We had 56 official ‘speakers’ and 233 conference participants posted on Twitter using the hashtag #CEEDTC2018, generating 547 individual conference talks’. Impressively, the conference had an audience reach of almost 600,000 people.

The Twitter Conference has been a great opportunity to begin a new and meaningful environmental decision science conversation while planting the seeds for new research partnerships and collaborations around the world. It has also been a great opportunity to lead by example, by hosting an online conference that did not generate any travel-related emissions. #CEEDTC2018 also allowed the latest research to be free and accessible to anyone, anywhere on earth with an internet connection.

CEED Alumni Jane Catford joined in CEED’s Twitter Conference from London, sharing her latest research on invasion and extinction.

CEED Alumni Jane Catford joined in CEED’s Twitter Conference from London, sharing her latest research on invasion and extinction.

I’d like to thank Hannah Fraser, Casey Fung, Stephanie Avery-Gomm, Rachel Friedman, Michelle Baker and Kathy Avent, along with all of the CEED community, our collaborators and
new connections for engaging in the event. We ran it as an experiment (after being prompted by an editorial by Hannah in Decision Point #101 and following the example shared with us
by Stephanie Avery-Gomm on how the World Seabird Union has run their Twitter conference) and I think we have demonstrated it’s an idea with legs.

Of course, face-to-face (in person) conferencing is important for building relationships and growing networks. Indeed, if you’re going to spend those extra resources by turning up in person, then you really should be making sure you realise the many opportunities these conferences offer. CEED has put a lot of effort into bringing people together in order to add value to our science, and some of the fruits of this are on display in several places in this issue of Decision Point.

CEED was a co-sponsor of this year’s Boden Conference on ecological surprises and rapid collapse of ecosystems at the Shine Dome in Canberra earlier this year. Several exciting collaborations are expected to emerge from this gathering. And I’d like to acknowledge Justine Shaw and Dana Bergstrom’s efforts to achieve gender balance in the audience while also including many early career researchers (ECRs) in the invitee list. This sets a great example for all conference organisers. (The Red List of Endangered Ecosystems was an important theme underlying many of the discussions at this Boden meeting – a topic of several CEED supported workshops over the years.)

CEED Alumni (and ECR) Kate Helmstedt leads the discussion at the Boden Conference on ecosystem collapse.

CEED Alumni (and ECR) Kate Helmstedt leads the discussion at the Boden Conference on ecosystem collapse.

And CEED was also a co-sponsor of MOBSYM (Mathematics of Biological Systems Management Symposium) at Melbourne Uni in April. Many good conversations were held over many strong cups of coffee at this event, and we’re hopeful some of those conversations will lead to major new research endeavours. This was more than just a meeting of mathematicians; it also brought together a mob of mathematics-based organisations. Besides CEED there was PRISM, CEBRA and ACEMS (see our story on page 11 if any of these acronyms are new to you). An important take-away message from this event is that maths underpins good science, management and policy. Hat’s off to CEED ECR Chris Baker for leading this initiative and bringing several research centres together for the event.

In this issue of Decision Point we’re also running a couple of stories on biodiversity in our city spaces. Nathalie Butt discusses how city managers planning for climate change really should be incorporating biodiversity conservation in their plans (but unfortunately, most don’t). It’s a great story (and an excellent analysis) but what you probably aren’t aware of is that this collaborative research was the result of a CEED conference on human impacts of climate change.

Indeed, so many of CEED’s most influential research outputs began as conversations at conferences and workshops, often over a coffee or a meal outside of the organized talks. But, as is usually the case in science, the formal outputs often take years before they see the light of day. Which means, given the many conferences CEED has helped run this year, that many exciting research findings are in the pipeline.

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