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Digital conferences will reduce climate impact

Webinars and Skype conversations are to be taken to an entirely new level. A test has now been conducted to determine if it is possible to hold a conference digitally (partially at least, as face-to-face networking remains difficult to replicate). The Swedish Ministry of the Environment and Energy and research funders are curious about the outcome, hoping it could pave the way for more travel-free, digital meetings in the future.
A digital conference meeting
Panels in Hong Kong and Lund exchanged experiences at last week’s digital conference.

Last week, 70 people sat down in Hong Kong, including a minister of regional development, to discuss collaborations with leading representatives of the University, regional administration and business sector in Skåne. The latter group was present in the auditorium at Medicon Village.

The participants saw each other via a large screen. Moderators on each side of the planet led the discussions.

“It would not have been possible to hold this meeting if we had to fly several leading figures from the other side of the world. So, there are more benefits than reducing carbon dioxide emissions”, said the initiator Bengt Streijffert, senior advisor to Lund University and chair of the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce Sweden South.

Skype, Skype for business, Zoom and other digital meeting tools are used by almost all  researchers at the University, and webinars are also employed to some extent as an element in teaching and a way to give feedback to colleagues and students.

However, as far as Bengt Streijffert knows, gathering so many people together has not been done before in Sweden.

Was it a success? The subsequent discussion worked well, thought Bengt Streijffert, and the participants were very satisfied. There was also social interaction between the panels. On the minus side, the sound quality from Hongkong could have been better, whereas the sound quality from Lund was perfect. However, this format could not offer participants the chance to network in the interval.

“As mentioned, the biggest advantage in this case was that the meeting would not have happened otherwise – and this solution was time-efficient and almost cost-free”, concludes Bengt Streijffert.

The organiser was Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce Sweden South. Lund University Region Skåne and Ideon were partners. A similar meeting is planned for the autumn.

Kristina Lindgärde

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