A sustainable trade-off?

Some of the most interesting discussions come up when you are faced with a trade-off, especially when it is between two areas or ideas that have an almost equal value to you.

Currently I am spending about two weeks in Rome as part of an international conference called International Presidents Meeting (or IPM for short) that AIESEC organizes to connect all the presidents of the global organization and set the global strategic plan as well as host legislation to manage the governance of AIESEC.

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In this global, strategic forum a lot of trade-offs come up. One of the ones that came up for discussion during a lunch-break was the trade-off – caused by these global meetings – between acting sustainably (one of AIESEC’s core values) and between connecting people face to face from different cultures in order to create understanding of the value of diversity and intercultural connections (another one of our values). We have for example a conference having more than 700 participants that brings together the management of local and international level of AIESEC from all over the world. The carbon footprint of such a conference is of course very high (from flights, etc.) – so, is it reasonable for us to host such a meeting? Could the same purpose be reached by other means – such as connecting with each other online and hosting virtual meetings?

Personally, right now, I don’t have an answer – but I think the process of asking these questions is valuable and that we should constantly reassess if the activities, meetings and products that we offer are really in line with our values and, if we identify a trade-off, perform a cost-benefit analysis as to what we can expect to achieve and what the cost to our other values are.

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