The celebration of the Joint 2021 WDA-EWDA Conference would have implied that around 400 researchers from many different points in the world would have travelled to Spain. With an estimated total CO2 emission of 1,200 tons of the last WDA-EWDA Joint Conference of Lyon (France) in 2012, it was estimated that the 2021 event would have contributed with a carbon footprint equivalent to the emissions of over 200 European citizens along a year.
The Organizing Committee of the Conference adopted a series of measures to reduce the carbon footprint of the presential Conference with the recommendations of the EWDA Sustainability Committee. The question was how reducing and mitigating the environmental effect caused by the Conference. The EWDA Sustainability Committee evaluated the contribution of EWDA conferences in terms of CO2 costs and identified that air travel is behind the 90% of the total emissions (https://ewda.org/bulletin-newsletters/). Holding a Virtual Conference will result in an almost absolute reduction of the carbon footprint of the WDA community. We Spaniards face bad situations by saying 'every cloud has a silver lining', and this time the Virtual Conference will reduce our environmental impact almost absolutely. The second measure aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the conference was to mitigate the unavoidable environmental effects caused by the Conference. The Organizing Committee set up a series of reforestation activities to which the participants of the Conference could voluntarily contribute. The EWDA Sustainability Committee estimated that the plantation of around 1,000 Mediterranean native trees will reduce the carbon cost of the Conference over a 40-year period. Three different tree planting activities were organized for the 2021 Conference in liaison with local authorities, environmental associations and locals. Maintaining this action in 2021 may help mitigate the impact of past WDA face-to-face conferences. The Organizing Committee is looking for the most appropriate ways to contribute to this cause and achieve the goal of replanting more than 1,000 trees in Cuenca.