A sustainable congress

A sustainable congress?

We are working to transform this ESRS congress into an environmentally and socially sustainable congress:

  • Minimal impact on the global and local environment: transportation, food, waste, goodies
  • More social equity and welfare: gender balance, social and cultural minorities friendly, facilities for persons with reduced mobilites
  • Fair economy: balanced registration costs, grants; local and fair trade cattering

We hope to inspire you to take positive action with us so that we all make a concerted effort to turn our values into reality. 

Congresses can cause an immense negative impact on the local environment, as many studies show (Achten et al., 2013a, 2013b; Hischier & Hilty, n.d.; Nathans & Sterling, 2016; Neugebauer et al., 2020; Parsons, 2015; Sarabipour et al., 2021a; Weissgerber et al., 2020; Wynes et al., 2019). The main environmental impact is caused by the travelling of the participants. The catering, accommodation and the location of the venue have major contributions, as well (Nathans & Sterling, 2016; Neugebauer et al., 2020).

We hope to inspire you to make the necessary efforts together to cause real change by questioning business-as-usual practices and offering an innovative response.
The organising team and our M2 students team is very committed about this sustainable project and we hope to count on your fellow enthusiasm and active support to contribute to our sustainable goals!

The M2 international student team preparing a more sustainable ESRS2023

Achten, W. M. J., Almeida, J., & Muys, B. (2013). Carbon footprint of science: More than flying. Ecological Indicators, 34, 352–355. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2013.05.025

datAgir. (2022). Impact CO2.

European Union (2020). Farm to Fork Strategy. For a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system (EU: Brussels).

Hendriks, S. L., Herrero, M., Mason-D’croz, D., & Godde, C. (n.d.). What should households grow and eat to improve nutrition? View project CCAFS Regional Scenarios (Phase 2) View project. https://sc-fss2021.org/ 

Hischier, R., & Hilty, L. (n.d.). Environmental impacts of an international conference. www.elsevier.com/locate/eiar

Nathans, J., & Sterling, P. (2016). How scientists can reduce their carbon footprint. ELife, 5(MARCH2016). https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.15928

Neugebauer, S., Bolz, M., Mankaa, R., & Traverso, M. (2020). How sustainable are sustainability conferences? – Comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment of an international conference series in Europe. Journal of Cleaner Production, 242. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.118516

Parsons, E. C. M. (2015). So you think you want to run an environmental conservation meeting? Advice on the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that accompany academic conference planning. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 5(4), 735–744. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-015-0327-8

Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science, 360, 987–992. https://www.science.org

Sandström, V., Valin, H., Krisztin, T., Havlík, P., Herrero, M., & Kastner, T. (2018). The role of trade in the greenhouse gas footprints of EU diets. Global Food Security, 19, 48–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2018.08.007

Sarabipour, S., Khan, A., Seah, S., Mwakilili, A. D., Mumoki, F. N., Sáez, P. J., Schwessinger, B., Debat, H. J., & Mestrovic, T. (2021). Evaluating features of scientific conferences: A call for improvements. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.02.022079

Scarborough, P., Appleby, P. N., Mizdrak, A., Briggs, A. D. M., Travis, R. C., Bradbury, K. E., & Key, T. J. (2014). Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK. Climatic Change, 125(2), 179–192. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1169-1

VIGZ. (2022b, April 13). Uitgangspunten voedingsdriehoek | Gezond Leven. 

Weissgerber, T., Bediako, Y., de Winde, C. M., Ebrahimi, H., Fernández-Chiappe, F., Ilangovan, V., Mehta, D., Quezada, C. P., Riley, J. L., Saladi, S. M., Sarabipour, S., & Tay, A. (2020). Mitigating the impact of conference and travel cancellations on researchers’ futures. ELife, 9. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.57032

Willet, W., Rockström, J., Loken, B., Springmann, M., Lang, T., Vermeulen, S., Garnett, T., Tilman, D., Wood, A., DeClerck, F., Jonell, M., Clark, M., Gordon, L., Fanzo, J., Hawkes, C., Zurayk, R., Rivera, J. A., de Vries, W., Sibanda, L., … Murray, C. (2018). Our food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140

WUR. (2019). True and fair pricing.

Wynes, S., Donner, S. D., Tannason, S., & Nabors, N. (2019). Academic air travel has a limited influence on professional success. Journal of Cleaner Production, 226, 959–967. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.04.109

A common challenge!

Studies show that the environmental impact of international conferences is dominated by the mobility and transportation of the participants (Neugebauer et al., 2020). Achten et al. (2013) found that about 35% of the total carbon emissions when producing a PhD paper are solely dedicated to conference mobility. Studies by Jackle (2022) showed that by participating in a congress by travelling long distances can dramatically increase a person’s carbon footprint. When comparing those emissions with the maximum GHG emissions of 2.5 tonnes of CO2-eq a person should be allowed to emit in 2030 to keep global warming within the 1.5°C, one person would be spending already 80% of his/her maximum carbon budget by flying back and forth to a congress from Europe to the United States of America (Jäckle, 2022).  

For these reasons, we wish to present some alternative transportation methods and we sincerely hope you can make a more environmentally conscious choice of travelling to the congress. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, the alternative travel methods could result in a stress-free travelling or even a productive work session, such as on the train. Depending on where you come from, different travelling options are possible and listed below.

Plan your trip 

In the following part, useful websites are listed to provide you with information about different travelling options. We hope these websites give you enough information and make you consider different options. However, if you would like to travel via an alternative method, but you do not find any time or motivation to check your possibilities, you can always contact the student team behind the organisation of this congress via mailing to hannelore.deschaepmeester@agrocampus-ouest.fr. Together, we will find out the most suitable travelling way for you! 

The following website calculates your trip in Europe, using only public transportation: https://www.thetrainline.com

Rennes is easily accessible by train from different places in France, as can be seen on the following map. It takes an average of 2h to travel from Paris, the capital of France, to Rennes by train, over a distance of around 308 km. Tickets cost only €16 when booked in advance.

Map  of train network in France

Overview of the train network in Europe ( + map of trains that need reservation ): 

Website that calculates train trips for you in Europe: https://www.raileurope.com/

Information about Eurail (for non-Europeans)/Interrail (for Europeans) pass:
“A Eurail Pass is an all-in-one train ticket giving you flexible access to most trains across Europe. Unlike traditional train tickets, with Eurail you can go wherever you want, whenever you want. Some trains do ask you to make a reservation, but most trains can be boarded as easily as flashing your Pass”.

If you are questioning why you should travel by train or still in doubt, this website gives you 10 reasons why you should travel by train: https://www.raileurope.com/fr/blog/10-raisons-de-voyager-en-train

After trains and planes, the next most popular mode of transport in Europe is via buses. There are lots of different bus companies in Europe. Some are regional and only serve one country whereas others travel across Europe. Below is a list of the biggest bus companies in Europe:

All over Europe: Eurolines, Flixbus (https://global.flixbus.com/), RegioJet, Blablabus (https://www.blablacar.nl/bus)

More specific to countries: Alsa (Spain), Avanza (Spain), Baltour (Italy), Nettbuss (Sweden, Norway and Denmark), Buscenter (Italy), Ecolines (Poland, BeNeLux, eastern Europe), NationalExpress (United Kingdom), Ouibus (France), RegioJet(Czech Republic, Slovakia)

Blablacar is a tool where you can book a carpooling trip or where you can host one yourself: https://www.blablacar.co.uk/

Moreover, if you feel excited to host a carpooling trip with other congress members: here is an excel file on which you can indicate whether you go by car and can pick up some other participants! Carpooling_excel.xlsx

If you are keen to bike to the congress and you would like to have some interesting company, feel free to fill in this excel file! It was made for this ESRS congress and gives you the option to indicate whether you go by bike and want the company of others: Cobiking_excel.xlsx

When no other option proves possible, it is necessary to fly to the congress. Even in this category of public transport, an effort can be done to travel in a more sustainable way. The following website provides an overview of the greenest and most sustainable airlines. Also, the option of paying a 'climate compensation' should be considered: https://ecotourism-world.com/the-top-green-and-sustainable-airlines-in-the-world/

Rennes is easily accessible by train from different places in France, as can be seen on the map above. It takes an average of 2h to travel from Paris, the capital of France, to Rennes by train, over a distance of around 308 km. Tickets cost only €16 when booked in advance.

Calculate the Carbon emissions of your trip!


A handy tool that can help you calculate your own emissions for different kinds of transportations. The website gives your carbon footprint both in the amount of CO2 emissions as well as in the number of trees that should be planted to compensate for your trip. Feel free to calculate it!

Figure1 - CO2 emissions
Figure 1: CO2 emissions for different types of transportation (datAgir, 2022). 

Although there exist alternative, more environmentally friendly methods; having a carbon emission footprint while travelling is unavoidable (picture 1). Apart from our goal to keep this footprint as low as possible, we intend to plant and grow trees as compensation for (y)our travel carbon emissions. In this way, we are still able to leave a positive impact on the local environment all together! 

The following table summarises the carbon emissions for taking the plane versus the train for different cities in Europe. More specifically, the calculations are done for the cities that host the ESRS scientific committee’s universities.

Figure 2: Overview of impact for different transport ways
Figure 2: Overview of impact for different transport ways for the countries representing the scientific committee of the congress. The options are calculated for travelling by plane (return, economy) and train (return, high speed) by the help of https://ecotree.green/en/calculate-flight-co2

Transportation at the congress

Rennes is a city of art, history and culture which is only 1h30 from Paris by TGV. The STAR public transport network offers a complete rail network. Also, the renting of bicycles is possible as well as carpooling solutions:


The accommodation of the participants makes an important contribution to the impact of a conference. We sincerely hope that you will consider your type of accommodation in terms of sustainability, as well.

Eco Labelled hotels:

Rural stays

Gite La Touche Thebault

Youth hostel

The European Youth Hostel network actively encourages sustainable behaviours for travel and accommodation. Rennes’s Youth Hostel

You like walking? These hotels are close to the campus and do not require public transport to reach the venue

You can find accommodation recommendations for international participants on the following pages

Next to the transport sector and industries, our food system has a large contribution in global warming. Moreover, the current food supply chain accounts for 26% of the global greenhouse gas emissions (Poore & Nemecek, 2018). Not only does our food system affect the rising of the earth’s temperature, it also contributes to biodiversity losses and takes part in the cycle of phosphorus and nitrogen losses to the environment (Willet et al., 2018). Consequently, we will make an effort to provide sustainable food at the conference. 

Scientific research has been able to show the destructive impact of our food production system on the planet. Picture 2 and 3 show the fact that animal-based products have a higher greenhouse gas emission footprint compared to plant-based products (Sandström et al., 2018). Flexitarian diets alone could reduce greenhouse gas emission by 56% (Springmann et al., 2018). For example, daily GHG emissions for vegans would be only 2.94 kg CO2 eq, compared to 3.85kg for vegetarians and 5.93 kg CO2 eq for meat eaters (Scarborough et al., 2014). In order to keep within the planetary boundaries, there is a clear need to change the global diet to a plant-based one, while implementing new technologies and management and keeping food waste minimal (Springmann et al., 2018). As stated in Europe’s Farm 2 Fork strategy: “It is clear that the transition will not happen without a shift in people’s diets.” (EU, 2020, p. 3). Beside the environmental benefits of a more plant-based diet, many human health benefits are proven as well. Food products such as fruits and vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, seeds and nuts are thought to form the basis for a healthy diet while processed products and red meat should be consumed as less as possible (VIGZ, 2022b). For this reason the default option for catering at the congress will be vegetarian, with vegan options. In addition to this, the food offered should be local, organic and seasonal as far as possible. 

Also, costs of food products are not reflecting their true negative impacts on the society and the environment (Hendriks et al., n.d.). A product’s price does not reflect its true price, which includes the economic and sustainability costs of its production and consumption. At the moment, these sustainability costs are mostly paid by primary producers only and thus not by every actor in the food chain (WUR, 2019). Therefore, at the conference, where possible, fair trade labelled food products are served. In this way, costs and revenues are divided fair and equally along the food supply chain (WUR, 2019)

To conclude, some of our main criteria for the catering on the congress will be: local, organic, seasonal, plant based and fairtrade. Before the congress, we will use an online survey to collect data on dietary specifications, allergies and food choices, having provided information on the environmental impact of dietary choices. In the following part dealing with tourism and culture, a list of restaurants is given where you can enjoy delicious food in Rennes that applies to such criteria, as well.

Picture 3: Global median greenhouse gas emissions of food products
Picture 3: Global median greenhouse gas emissions of food products (Poore & Nemecek, 2018).

Things have to be taken slow in order to stop the tourism consumption, this avidity for seeing as many famous and amazing things as possible. Why going far if there is a huge richness so close? It’s time to see the territories differently and to reclaim them!

Rennes is a dynamic city with contrasted architecture and ambiance, both historical and modern. Markets, parks, mazes of streets, bucolic walks along the river, but also nice restaurants, cafés, bars, and futuristic and remarkable buildings: there is something for everyone and it will amaze more than one! An overview of nice places in the city of Rennes are given in table 2. Also, there are some golfing, swimming and kayaking options in summer!

This city is the capital of Brittany, a historical and famous region, bordered by the sea in the west of France. You will immerse with its unique culture, its legends (king Arthur and Merlin, the korrigans, the fairies…), its wilderness both on the countryside and on the coasts, its history (Celtic influence, fishery…), but also its delicious gastronomy (crêpes, galettes, Kouign-amann, cidre, andouille de Guéméné…). For (small) city-lovers, Dinan, Vannes, Fougères, Saint-Malo will transport you with their typical architecture, harbours, ramparts, and unique atmosphere. For nature-lovers, the amazing Cap Fréhel, Vallon de la chambre au loup, côte de granit rose, islands among many other beautiful places will make you feel in a dream. We listed some of the most interesting places in Brittany, which are both urban destinations (Table 3) as natural places (Table 4). Also, the website of Tourisme Rennes can give you lots of inspiration, such as here: https://www.tourisme-rennes.com/en/discover-rennes/nature/responsible-travel/. 

Easily reachable by train or bus, Brittany is awaiting you!

Table 2: Overview of things to do in Rennes.

Petite Nature (vegan restaurant) Médiathèque des champs libres Rest or walk in Parc du thabor
Symbiozh (café-concept-store, vegan) Rue Vasselot + La criée    Prairies saint martin Prairies saint martin
Les voisines (lunch place close to the congress) Rue sainte mélaine Voie verte de la Prévalaye
L'AlgoRythme (restaurant/ tapas) Quartier saint hélier Quai de la prévalaye
Bercail/Pénates (restaurant / wine bistrot) Marché des lices (weekly market) Jardin des milles pas
BioCrêp (crêperie) Rue d’Antrain Grande Route 39 en Bretagne
BioTyFood (healthy) Rue d’échange et théâtre saint étienne Parc des Gayeulles (leisure centre)
Café Albertine (café - vegetarian cantine) Librairie le fallier Micro farm Perma G’Rennes (visits are organised, free or guided, in summer)
Les Clandestines (tea house, breakfast, brunch) Quartier gare  
Le Coucou Rennais (restaurant)    
Crêperie Paysanne (crêperie)    
L'Enchanté (tea house, restaurant)    
Les enfants terribles (café-cantine, vegan friendly)    
La Fabrique Saint-Georges (crêperie)    
Le Goût des autres (restaurant traditionnel)    
Les Invisibiles (Café-cantine)    
Ker Soazing (crêperie)    
Origines (bistro-microbrasserie)    
La Petite Ourse (restaurant bio, local and seasonal)    
Good Good (restaurant végétarien/végétalien)    
Pique-Prune snack (restaurant of bioshop Biocoop)    
La Tonnelle à vins (restaurant - wine cave)    
Crêperie la Rozell (close to Sainte Anne)    


Table 3: Overview of urban destinations in Brittany.

  • Dynamic city with a contrasted architecture and ambiance, both historical and modern
  • Nice bicycle tours, close and nice countryside
  • Ancient city of leather tailors, travelled by a small river
  • Old streets and houses full of charm
  • Upper part of the city with a a beautiful panorama
55 km
  • 1:15 by train
  • 40 min by car
Saint Malo
  • Nice city with an old center and unique ramparts facing the sea
  • Walks along the shore, bathing
  • Access to the GR34, a hiking trail going all around Brittany, along the coast
70 km
  • 1:00 by car
  • 0:50 by train
  • Typical architecture with "maisons à pans de bois" (houses with wooden strcuture), a maze of small streets
  • Small harbour
  • Very lively, especially during the summer touristic period
55 km
  • 1:15 by train (change in Dol de Bretagne)
  • 1:20 by bus (direct)
  • Charming old city, typical architecture
  • Close to the coast and other nice old villages (Douarnenez, Penmarch, Concarneau…)
215 km
  • 2:30 by train (direct)
  • 2:30 by car
  • Historical small city with nice ramparts
  • Walks along the shore
200 km
  • 2:45 by train (change in Rosporden)
  • 2h45 by car
  • Historical fortified small city, very charming
  • Known for its salt marshes and it's "Sel de Guérande"
125 km
  • 1:50 by car
  • Capital of the Morbihan region
  • Maze of small street, typical architecture
  • Nice harbour
  • Access to the GR34, a hiking trail going all around Brittany, along the coast
115 km
  • 1:10 by train
  • 1:20 by car
  • Capital of the neighbouring department, the Maine et Loire
  • City full of charm with a large historical center, stone and wooden houses, maze-streets
  • Nice parks in the city, lake, preserved natural island
  • Bicycle paths (including the Loire à Vélo)
130 km
  • 1:30 by train (direct)
  • 1:30 by car
  • Capital of the Pays de la Loire région
  • Dynamic city full fo history
  • Historical center, castle and modern districs
  • Very interesting museums
  • Access to the Loire à Vélo bicyle path
115 km
  • 1:15 by train (direct)
  • 1:15 by car


Table 4: Overview of natural destinations in Brittany.

Forêt de Rennes (Liffré)
  • Nice forest close to the city
25 km
  • 0:20 by car
  • 0:45 by bus
Le Verger
  • Hiking through the fields, the forest and through a stone quarry
  • 3:00 walk, well indicated
25 km
  • 45 min by bus
  • 20 min by car
  • Beautiful cliffs
  • Hiking along the wild coast along the GR34 (hinking path)
  • Lake
110 km
  • 1:40 by car
  • World known Menhir site (legendary stones dating from the time of the Gauls)
  • Nice walks along the shore, proximity with the GR34
145 km
  • 1:40 by car
  • Amazing natural site at the very end of Brittany
  • Hiking along the GR34
280 km
  • 3:00 by car
Cap Fréhel
  • Beautiful wild cliffs
  • Walk along the cliffs and the coast along the GR34
115 km
  • 1:40 by car
L'île aux Moines
  • Charming little island with typical old houses
  • Nice beaches
  • Nice walks by foot or by bicycle (rents)
130 km
  • 2:20 by car + ferry
  • 2:45 by train + bus + ferry
Lac de Tremelin + chambre au loup
  • Nice walk in the forest, along the lake shore
  • Impressive canyon
40 km
  • 0:40 by car
  • 1:10 by bus
Côte de granit rose (Perros Guirrec)
  • Hiking along the shore punctuated by unique pink granit rocks
  • Charming old villages
175 km
  • 2:00 by car
Brocéliande (Paimpont)
  • Legendary forest with the tomb of Merlin and the sword of king Arthur
  • Nice walk in the forest, along the lake shore
45 km
  • 40 min by car
  • 1:10 by bus


This part is still a work in progress. Later, information will follow on the venue’s facilities, the digital goodie bag and the sustainable culture we want to establish during the congress, itself. Also, at the moment, we are negotiating childcare facilities in the neighbourhood of the congress and we will keep you up to date on this. 

In order to promote the sustainability of the congress, we apply a strict waste reduction policy whose success depends on your involvement. We invite you to select what you can bring :

  • Your personal cup or mug for the coffee breaks (cups will not be provided)
  • Your water bottle (no plastic bottles provided. Rennes tap water is of good quality)
  •  A plastic badge holder (any size): sure that you have one somewhere from a former event! On arrival to ESRS2023 you will be provided a cardboard badge with your names and the QRcode to the program, without any plastic holder.
  • The printed congress programme if you wish, as well as an application to read the QR codes on your smartphone: the paper version of the programme will not be provided on site. QR codes will be available at the congress venues to download the programme and all practical information.
  • Your favourite notebooks and pencils for your notes (not provided on site)
  • This precious notebook, or a plain-coloured cardboard folder or similar material, which you can decorate during the congress with a large and beautiful souvenir stamp provided by the organisers (sustainable 'goodies' that will replace one more useless canvas bag!)


Of course, the location of the congress is also an important consideration in the field of sustainability. 

The Agro Institute is connected to the urban heating network of Rennes, which contributes to the transition towards zero carbon emissions. The Rennes network is one of the 70 French heating networks labelled eco-heating networks in 2017 by the Amorce association out of more than 530 networks listed in France. This label means in particular that it uses at least 50% renewable or recovered energy. It contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the territory and therefore to better air quality.

Also, trimming the local bocage hedgerows in Rennes produces waste wood, which is then burned and is used as biofuel for the heating network. In total, this kind of biofuel supplies the urban heating networks up to some 15%. 

Electricity at the campus is purchased as part of a public contract signed by the State Purchasing Department. This market provides in particular that the electricity is of 100% renewable origin.

The Institut Agro is also involved in the City Council’s policy for trees plantations, with over 30 000 trees to be planted in Rennes from now to 2026.