#LiNo16: How to make a big conference greener, cleaner and more sustainable

Simplified, it’s the job of our meeting participants – Nobel Laureates and young scientists alike – to make the world a better place through science. We, the organisers of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, strive to contribute a tiny bit to the success of their quest: We bring researchers together, facilitate an exchange of ideas and encourage them to form international networks. But is this all we can contribute? Enough to pat ourselves on the back? We don’t think so!

Maybe it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about meetings and conferences, but these events often leave colossal carbon footprints. Think about the CO2-emissions of hundreds (for really big conferences even thousands) of people that travel by car or plane, think about a sea of mostly plastic trash, think about countless pages of printed out conference materials. Worrisome, right? And these are only some of the more obvious, ecological aspects.

“In many lectures and discussions Nobel Laureates like Christian de Duve, Mario Molina, Brian Schmidt and others emphasised the importance of acting sustainably and responsibly. We therefore see this as an obligation for our work in organising the meetings,” says Wolfgang Huang, Managing Director of the Executive Secretariat of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. That’s why several years ago the idea of “green conferencing” became a new focus of attention during the planning of the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.


Lindau Harbor - a sight to behold, not only for our feathered friends. Photo: iStock.com/Mor65

Lindau Harbour – a sight to behold, not only for our feathered friends. Photo: iStock.com/Mor65

In order to improve the process of incorporating sustainability aspects into the planning of the meetings, Katja Merx, project manager in Lindau’s conference management, was appointed as officer of sustainability. “To me it was only natural to devote myself to this issue in my working environment, too. I have been following the principle of sustainability for years in my private life, anyway!”, Katja remarks. It’s not all about environmental protection though, according to Katja: “Many people tend to forget that sustainability also includes economic and social aspects – and we’re steadily trying to increase our efforts in these areas, too!”


We review all  measures each year in the early planning phase of a meeting and try constantly to explore further possibilities within the limits of what we can do as a non-profit organisation. So which measures do we actually take in 2016 for the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting? Have a look:

  • All electricity used for the meeting is provided by the Lindau municipal utilities who run on  100% green energy
  • Young scientists are free to use Lindau’s public bus system during the meeting week
  • Shuttle Service for the Nobel Laureates partly consists of hybrid cars
  • Meeting bags are produced from sustainable materials
  • Meeting lanyards are produced from materials that are 100% recyclable and no plastic covers are used for the name badges
  • Meeting tents: Flysheets and floor coverings are reusable
  • All tents and venues use energy saving lamps
  • Catering: Regional and seasonal food
  • Local companies are selected for services such as catering, technical support or logistics
  • Young scientists are encouraged to use Atmosfair for their flights (details below!)


If you can’t avoid it, compensate!



An international conference can hardly avoid CO2-emissions caused by air travel of its participants, however, there’s the possibility of making up for that by donating money to climate friendly projects. For this we are partnering with the trusted German NGO Atmosfair. They offer a service that calculates the CO2-emissions generated by your flight as well as the amount of money that should be donated in turn to climate protection projects to equalize these emissions.
If you are thinking about using Atmosfair for your Lindau-flights we would like to ask you to use the embedded form below – this way we will be able to analyze how many of our meeting participants are actually making use of Atmosfair:



We encourage all participating young scientists of our meetings to consider using this service for their travel to and from Lindau. As travel is organised by the young scientists themselves, this is of course absolutely voluntary.

Vincenzo Hiemer

About Vincenzo Hiemer

Vincenzo Hiemer was part of the communications team of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings from 2015-2017. The graduated journalist functioned as a social media editor and was responsible for coordinating the Lindau Blog together with Gero von der Stein.

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