With over 30,000 attendees at the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) in 2019, the meeting, which is the flagship of the Austrian conference industry, has been growing continuously for years, hosting visitors from 133 countries in Vienna at the last congress.
In addition to the many positive effects resulting from the increasing number of visitors, such as an annually growing indirect profitability and revenue stream for the City of Vienna and the local hotel industry, the organiser, the European Society of Radiology (ESR), is also aware of the congress’ effects on the environment.
To counteract this, the ESR has worked tirelessly to certify the ECR as a Green Meeting, a certification based on strict ecological and sustainability criteria laid out by Austrian regulators. A status which was first achieved in 2014.
“We consciously took this step at the time because we were aware that, as a congress organiser, we had to actively counterbalance the adverse environmental effects of our meeting and try to keep environmental pollution as low as possible. Even though our efforts require considerable expenditure, it is worth seeing the success of our green initiatives, such as garbage reduction, separation and recycling, and green partnerships with our catering partners. While other organisers plan unsustainable activities, such as charity runs and the like, we wish to take a step in 2020 that will really make a difference and encourage others to follow suit,” says Peter Baierl, ESR Executive Director.
The European Society of Radiology will plant a tree for every visitor who takes part in ECR 2020, whether they attend onsite or online. This endeavour promises the planting of approximately 30,000 trees in an effort to counteract the effects of the global environmental crisis. A recent study published in Science magazine shows that reforestation is one of the most efficient ways to combat climate change, and the ESR wants and will play its part.
A critical view of the trend towards ‘gigantomania’
Although the ECR itself is a big player in the congress business, the congress organisers agree with the critical view held towards ‘gigantomania’ in the currently booming meeting industry.
“You can’t fool yourself, future successes are based on investments in modern meeting technologies, which will enable remote participation without having to travel to an event. The number of people flying to Vienna or another city to attend a congress will tend to decline in the future. Employers will also encourage digital participation of their employees at congresses, which is something we are already seeing. Congresses have to be future-proof and should already position themselves now in such a way that they are prepared for a decrease in onsite participation,” says Baierl.
In this regard, the European Congress of Radiology has been a pioneer for almost a decade and, in addition to free live broadcasting of the entire congress programme, it also offers the possibility of digital participation, entitling physicians to receive required training credits through their remote attendance.
ECR 2020 will take place from March 11 to 15, 2020, at the Austria Center Vienna.