Australia is Down Under. It is a wonderful destination. For many ICA members there are also downsides: travel distance, costs, and carbon footprint are considerations. These are important and legitimate considerations. Let me address some of these and thereby contribute to what hopefully will be a vibrant 70th Annual ICA Conference in Gold Coast, Australia in 2020.
First, ICA is an international organization. We have a four year rotation cycle to make sure that we can be in different communities. For someone in Germany, San Francisco is a fairly long journey. For someone in Jerusalem, Fukuoka is far. And for someone in Kuala Lumpur, Washington, DC is far. In some years a larger contingent of the membership travels farther, on average, than in other years. The Annual ICA Conference will be one of these. Many of our Asian members travel really far, almost every year. For them, Australia will be a, comparatively speaking, shorter trip. Let us collectively honor their commitment and travels to ICA in the many past years by simply accepting that this time other groups of the membership take on the heavier part of the travel.
Second, given the distance, travel costs will for many (not all) be comparatively higher. ICA is doing the following to help in this respect: first, there will be different kinds of housing available, some of these being shared units with relatively lower per-night costs. Second, ICA will put out information about how to maximize your travel budget (with options like flying into Sydney and taking a low-cost carrier etc). Watch the ICA website and news flashes, and start planning ahead.
Third, many of us are concerned about drastic climate change. ICA destinations are chosen several, often 5-7, years in advance. The 70th Annual ICA Conference location was not chosen with specific attention to invoking new technologies for the conference. However, ICA is committed to actions making the imprint of the organization smaller. In choosing locations going forward, sustainability and ‘green strategies’ are official parts of the hotel/conference bid. For the ICA Annual Conference in 2020 specifically, ICA sustainability committee has identified two projects that can be recipients for carbon neutral donations. These are voluntary and are available after registering for the Annual ICA Conference. None of these funds will go to ICA, only the chosen projects. In addition, when making individual travel plans, it is worth considering which planes are being used for the different legs of the journey to Australia, since CO₂ emissions vary greatly by plane type and age.
With this column I hope to have convinced those doubting, if they should join in Australia or not, to come. In addition to being a great conference, it is also a gateway to explore a beautiful and attractive island. Australia has a lot to offer, culturally and nature wise. And it is a great gateway for bucket list destinations in the vicinity.
We look forward to seeing you at the #ica20 conference.