Thank you for joining us for ANH2023!
Save the date
The Agriculture, Nutrition & Health Academy invites you to ‘Save the Date’ for the 8th ANH Academy Week, which will take place over two weeks:
- 19 - 21 June 2023: Learning Labs (online only)
- 26 June 2023: Learning Labs (In-person only in Lilongwe)
- 27 - 30 June 2023: Research Conference (in-person in Lilongwe and online)
Between 2016 and 2019 the ANH Academy Week was held fully in-person, rotating between African and Asian countries in order to lower barriers to participation. Although Research Conference sessions were livestreamed from 2018 onwards, participation in the event was primarily in situ.
In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Academy Week (at that time in advanced planning phases for Malawi) was pivoted fully online for the first time. In 2021, the event followed this format, co-hosting remotely with institutions in Pakistan. ANH2022 was the first Academy Week with hybrid sessions, hosted entirely online but with in-person events and watch parties in South Africa (co-hosts), Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
This year, ANH2023 will build on this model to deliver an event that is fully hybrid, held entirely online but also in-person. The primary physical event will take place in Lilongwe, Malawi with co-hosts at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR). Expanding on the success of the 2022 watch party model, regional meetings will be encouraged and supported around the world.
Balancing environment, equity and scientific engagement
The decision to host a hybrid conference has been considered very seriously; taking into account a range of factors that are critical to the central mission and ethos of the ANH Academy, its members and partners. In the interest of transparency, we share with you these key considerations. Please continue to the bottom of the page where we discuss factors that should be considered by attendees when choosing how to participate in ANH2023. As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments to help us shape the Academy Week.
Recent events demonstrate beyond doubt that there is a global climate crisis with severe and wide-reaching impacts on people and planet. The sustainability of food security and planetary health lie at the centre of these concerns. Aviation accounts for approximately 3% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, and while academic conferences such as ANH Academy Week contribute to a very small portion of this burden, we are keenly aware that these environmental impacts cannot and should not be ignored or downplayed. ANH Academy has a responsibility to do whatever it can to reduce and mitigate such impacts.
The ANH Academy was founded with an aim to lower barriers to participation in scientific learning and sharing for researchers, practitioners and policymakers working on agriculture, food systems, nutrition, health and their myriad related fields. Between 2016 and 2019, this goal was successfully achieved through rotating the conference between Africa and Asia, by adopting a holistic approach to programming speakers, and through offering a travel bursary scheme to support those without funds to attend. Consistent participant feedback demonstrated how the atmosphere created by ANH Academy Weeks enabled rich, meaningful and lasting interactions that have translated into further research collaborations, projects, funding and policy change. Despite these efforts however, it is without doubt that exclusively in-person formats preclude many from attending, primarily due to financial barriers, domestic commitments and time constraints.
Moving the Academy Week online in 2020 reduced aviation emissions to zero while increasing the number of attendees who joined the event for some portion of time; a transition that was discussed by the ANH team and colleagues in this Lancet Planetary Health article. This transition presented a new range of benefits for equity and inclusion, allowing many more to attend the event due to the removal of aforementioned barriers, particularly among groups which may have been historically unrepresented or marginalized. Furthermore, the online format facilitated new types of interaction between attendees, importantly perhaps among those who might find it more difficult to engage at in-person conferences. However, our data from the online format also indicate that participation and engagement among attendees varied significantly, with many expressing a loss of rich in-person interactions. A mixed methods study of ANH2021 participation - forthcoming soon - highlights these intricate trade-offs and underpins the need to create a range of different formats for attendees to select from.
The case for a hybrid ANH Academy Week
Exclusively in-person or online conferences present strong pros and cons for the environment, equity of participation, the depth and meaningfulness of engagement in scientific learning, sharing and collaboration.
In an era of such significant cross-cutting global challenges, the importance of international scientific dialogue cannot be overstated. For too long, the balance of participation in such forums has been dominated by those from high income settings, meaning that the generation of, and deliberation over, evidence and experiences is not globally representative. Protecting and promoting scientific exchange and creating spaces for interactions both virtual and in-person is crucial for the development of early career researchers – and interdisciplinary research more broadly. While online conferences address some of these inequity issues, they alone are not a silver bullet. Therefore, ANH Academy does not feel it has the right to ‘kick away the ladder’ that has been effectively used by more privileged scientific communities for so long.
While acknowledging that any in-person meetings generate emissions that contribute to climate change, it is the view of ANH Academy that action is needed at scale at much higher levels than this relatively small event. While such inaction prevails, we believe it is the responsibility of scientific convenors such as ANH Academy to continue to innovate in ways to bring people together to learn, share and discuss the evidence needed to improve the food systems that sustain life, livelihoods and societies.
In light of this, ANH Academy Week 2023 will seek to strike a balance between these important concerns to deliver a scientific meeting that caters for as many people as possible in ways that facilitate rich and meaningful interactions.
It is therefore with pleasure that the we invite attendees and presenters to participate in the 2023 Academy Week in one of the following settings:
By adopting this three-pronged strategy, we aim to shift the balance of activity from a single conference site, towards regional offerings. While the meeting in Malawi will undoubtedly be the largest in-person element, we strongly encourage groups around the world to host their own watch parties, so that we can collectively spread participation globally.
Choosing which format to join
Please think about which setting may be best for your participation. In doing so we encourage you to consider:
- Do you want to attend in-person, online, or at a regional watch party?
- Could you host or attend a watch party at an academic institution in your region (ANH can provide financial and advisory support to hosts)? Check out the guidance here.
- If you would like to join the event in Malawi:
- Can you use the opportunity to host or attend any other meetings or trips i.e. project meetings, field trips, annual leave, other conferences?
- How can you offset your travel emissions? (acknowledging that some carbon offsets can be problematic)
- How might this travel fit into your own carbon budget?
If you have any thoughts or ideas relating to the rationale or format of ANH2023, please do get in touch at [email protected]