All continents, gender Balance, low Carbon transport, Diverse backgrounds

Examples & experiences

Where was ABCD already used?

World Biodiversity Forum, Special Session on “Aquatic Biodiversity: states and challenges ahead”, Davos, February 2020. 

What are the benefits, pitfalls and overall opinions on planning conferences etc with an ABCD framework in mind?

Dr. Mary A. Kishe (Speaker at an ABCD session, Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI): “ABCD is the future approach for sharing science with a wider audience and could be more interesting if other sessions of the forum would follow the similar approach.”

Dr. Rosetta Blackman (Organiser of an ABCD session, University of Zurich/Eawag, Switzerland): “Organising and running a session like this allowed us to make a real change to the norm. I feel this is a genuine chance for us, as scientist and communicators, to drive forward a new way of sharing our work globally and gaining so much from other people outside our usual networks. We need to address our excessive travel and continue communicating our research, the ABCD format allows this” 

Dr Francis Burdon (Speaker at an ABCD session, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences): “This was my first experience of a hybrid meeting involving online and pre-recorded contributions both as a presenter and audience member. This meeting format offers opportunities for organisers – it might be easier to curate a program if invited speakers can contribute remotely. … Since this meeting format is relatively new, people may need to experience it first and it will thus become easier over time.”

Prof. Dr. Florian Altermatt (Organiser of an ABCD session, University of Zurich/Eawag, Switzerland): “I have been impressed by how much support and enthusiasm we got for our proposed ABCD format, and how well the actual session went. It was a great experience seeing that this actually works” 

Dr. Rachel Stubbington (Plenary at an ABCD session, Nottingham Trent University): “The ABCD format allowed me to make a carbon-neutral and time-efficient contribution to the conference… It was odd not to see or hear the audience, but livestreaming my presentation was technically simple and I felt as motivated to share key messages with an audience far, far away as if I had been in the room.”

Dr. Patrick Goymer (Editor in Chief Nature Ecology & Evolution): “I particularly enjoyed the aquatic biodiversity session because of the novel way it had been organised: ABCD (All continents, Balanced gender, Carbon low, Diverse backgrounds). The idea was to use a mix of live in-person, remote live, and pre-recorded talks to allow a wider range of locations and time zones to participate and to keep monetary and carbon costs down. By mixing them up rather than having lots of pre-recorded talks in a row, and by using an online platform for questions, it didn’t feel much different from a normal session.” (see editorial”

Prof. Dr. Ole Seehausen (Organiser of an ABCD session, University of Bern/Eawag, Switzerland): “Underrepresentation of scientists from many sectors of global society is perhaps the single most severe constraint to achieving inclusivity and societal impact of science. This is obviously a very big problem in biodiversity research and conservation, but it applies to science much more widely. For a long time scientists in richer countries have happily met nearly exclusively amongst themselves. This must change quickly, but we also have to curtail high carbon emission travel. ABCD offers a realistic way out of this dilemma. Part of the concept is that conferences rotate between continents, such that scientists everywhere in turn are affected by the implications of the necessary cut-down on air travel. ABCD thus promises to achieve greater inclusivity at reduced carbon footprint” 

How to organise your ABCD conference/workshop/meeting:

Below are a few things to think about when using the ABCD format (see further details in our paper here):

  • Unlike other face-to-face meetings, using ABCD format you may want to think about having virtual meetings with speakers beforehand. This will allow you to cover the technical requirements for presenting/pre-recoding presentations (including microphone/camera facilities), time allowances and how they will be handles on the day and also allow speakers to meet each other and share their work prior to the session.
  • Make the local organisers aware of your intentions to hold a conference using the ABCD format, this not only will aid the promotion of your session/workshop but also allow the organisers to help with the necessary technical requirements
  • Think of a way to ensure questions are gathered and relayed to the presenters (remote or pre-record). This is perhaps the most crucial part of ensuring a successful meeting. For example: use an online conference app for participants to use or try a social media feed with relevant handles to collect questions.
  • Arrange a post-conference catch-up to include audience members and speakers, this will allow further discussion on the issues raised from the meeting and also encourage interaction and collaboration

Are you organising a conference/workshop/meeting with using the ABCD framework?

Let us know and we will feature selected experiences here and be sure to use #ABCD_Conference