Last week, the SUMERNET Steering Committee meeting went online in a test for the network as it adapts to the travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus outbreak to implement virtual communications that provide the benefit of being environmental- and budget-friendly.
It is business as usual for the Sustainable Mekong Research Network (SUMERNET) as it resumes work in its new phase “SUMERNET 4 All” (S4A) undertaking transboundary research on water security topics connecting partners across the six countries of the Mekong Region.
Given the travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the SUMERNET Steering Committee online meeting went live from its Secretariat in the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Asia Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. The event was moderated by Dr. Chayanis Krittasudthacheewa, SUMERNET Program Director and joined by SSC members from Cambodia China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
The event opened with a 90-minute induction session for new SSC members, followed by the formal SSC meeting in which participants discussed the implementation of SUMERNET 4 All activities in 2019.
This was followed by discussion of the network’s current phase of research and plans for the Annual Meeting in 2020. During the meeting, SUMERNET Secretariat also unveiled plans to reduce physical meetings with virtual ones by hosting capacity building webinars, and producing videos and podcasts on S4A research in the coming months.
“The corona outbreak has made it difficult for our partners to travel and have face-to-face meetings. But SUMERNET is moving forward with online trainings that are actually better for the environment and budget-friendly in the long-term,” said Dr Chayanis.
Virtual meetings and conferences are indeed becoming the new norm for international events that attempt to go greener. Online conferences can save costs, travel time and more importantly reduce carbon footprints caused by travel, particularly by airplanes. International aviation is estimated to take up 22% of global CO2 emissions by 2050 if it continues to fall behind other sectors in combating climate change, according to a report published by the European Parliament.
SUMERNET’s SC online meeting, thanks to evolving technology that adds a degree of realism to virtual communication, is the network’s effort to push for environmental-friendly and cost-effective ways of communication while still connecting its members living and working across the Mekong Region.
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