E D I T O R ’ S L E T T E R


J AM E S L A N C A S T E R , E D I T O R , A M I

n recent years, the environmental impact of international

nations might have been lost if this had been attempted online. COP is promoted as ameeting between nations, but it is actually a meeting between people, and sometimes the trust that comes from being physically present is the only way to overcome doubt and suspicion. Getting countries to commit to substantive plans to curb global warming is the task facing leaders when they meet in Glasgow later this year, hopefully in-person. While Covid-19 has allowed remote meeting technology a chance to shine, it has also exposed its limitations, which is why a binary ‘in-person versus online’ debate is fundamentally flawed. International meetings help advance our understandingof avast rangeof important subjects and deciding which ones matter more than others – get a pass to meet physically – is a futile task. The future will be a mixture of virtual, in-person, and hybrid – and the weighting of each component will depend on the specific ambitions of the meeting measured against its environmental impact. As we slowly emerge from lockdown, associations must decide this for themselves. Enjoy the magazine!


conferences has been dragged into the public discourse around climate change. It is not difficult to see why this has happened.Most international conferences purport to do good, and yet, when it comes to the single greatest challenge of our age, it often looks like they do bad. But rarely are things so straightforward. Travel restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic might have sharpened the debate around large in- person gatherings, with some arguing technology is the greener alternative. But the postponement of COP26 and other important environmental meetings, including theUN’sKunmingBiodiversity Summit, shows us what could be at stake if international travel were not to resume. For anyone familiar with Zoom fatigue, it is impossible to imagine how the negotiations needed to secure the landmark Paris Agreement at COP21, for example, could have been achieved online. For two weeks in 2015, the leaders of 196 countries huddled in meetings, wrangling over dense text, scrutinising every sub-clause, before finally reaching an agreement. Besides the technical challenges – each session had to be translated in real time in the UN’s six languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish – it is easy to see how the voices of smaller

ON DEMAND Click here to watch AMI’s sustainability webinar It explains in practical terms why it is important for associations to embrace sustainability and how they can play a strong leadership role in helping to make the planet a better place to live. Our expert panellists also explore how associations can influence member behaviour and lead from the front, by embedding sustainability into their daily operations, including their meetings and events.


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