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Travel and the challenge of sustainable and equitable global research: Moving forward

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The COP26 global negotiations in November are putting to centre stage the urgency of dealing with climate change. This is a challenge that health researchers and institutions like the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) need to respond to. LSHTM has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030. Our newly launched Sustainability Update 2021 details the progress made so far and critical next steps for achieving this goal.

Global research institutions such as LSHTM have a particular challenge. Based on pre-pandemic (2019) activity we have estimated that 70% of our carbon footprint came from business travel, particularly from international flights. While the work of global institutions like LSHTM will always involve some travel, we need to find ways to reduce this and work smarter to minimise carbon emissions to meet our shared commitment and play our part in slowing climate change. But what does this mean in practical terms for global researchers and practitioners?

Programme 

10.00-10.10: Introduction and welcome  
  • 10.00-10.05: Aims and structure of the meeting 
  • 10.05-10.55: Welcome and overview of what LSHTM is doing 
10.10-10.55: Session 1 – How are UK universities tackling the carbon challenge?    

What are other research institutions doing to achieve net-zero carbon emissions? How are they tackling the issue of reducing travel and maintaining quality global research? We are joined by speakers from two UK universities at the forefront of developing their sustainable action plans and will hear from the Head of Sustainability at LSHTM on our strategy for reducing travel emissions.

Chair: Megan Deeney, Research Assistant and PhD student, LSHTM  

  • University of Sheffield  
    • Speaker: Dr Matt Watson, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Sheffield 
  • University of Exeter  
    • Speaker: Dr Emma Page, Head of Environment & Climate Emergency Team, University of Exeter 
  • LSHTM  
    • Speaker: Ola Bankole, Head of Sustainability, LSHTM  
11.10-12.00: Session 2 – Research funder perspective 

Research funders play a critical role in shaping research strategies and influencing how research is conducted. What will funders be expecting and stipulating from researchers in the net-zero context? How will they support a more sustainable approach to global research? Join our panel to find out more.

Chair: Professor Jimmy Whitworth, Professor of International Public Health, LSHTM 

  • The critical role of funders 
    • Speaker: Professor Teun Bousema, Professor in the Epidemiology of Tropical Infectious Diseases, Nijmegen, The Netherlands 
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) 
    • Speaker: Jo Allatt, UKRI Senior Environmental Sustainability Programme Manager, Natural Environment Research Council 
  • Wellcome Trust  
    • Speaker: Lauren Mills, Grant Adviser at Wellcome Trust  
  • Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) 
    • Speaker: Tinne Jacobs, Advisor International Affairs, FWO
12.15-13.05: Session 3 – Establishing equitable collaborations in a sustainable world 

How might reducing international travel affect the equity of research partnerships around the world? The panel will explore the challenges and opportunities that could arise and discuss strategies for simultaneously improving the sustainability and equity of global research collaborations.

Chair: Dr Thalia Sparling, Research Fellow, LSHTM  

  • Agriculture, Nutrition and Health (ANH) Academy 
    • Speaker: Abel Endashaw, Programme Coordinator of the Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA) programme
  • Experience of Swedish Organization for Global Health (SOGH) 
  • Decolonising research 
13.05-13.30: Session 4 – Ways forward and panel discussion 

What are the priorities for tackling the difficult issue of international travel for research? Our panel will give their perspectives on developing actionable strategies to ensure sustainable global research, and the individual and institutional responsibility for change.

Chair: Professor David Leon, Professor of Epidemiology, LSHTM 

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Follow webinar link. Free and open to all. No registration required.

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