Since the beginning of March, we all have been faced with the very dynamic and global spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Based on developments in Germany and worldwide, we do not want to risk supporting the spread of COVID-19 by the symposium. We also recognize that the likelihood of travel restrictions being lifted in time for the symposium is extremely low.
Thus, together with our partners, we came to the very difficult, but necessary, decision to postpone the 14th ICRS to the week of 18 - 23 July 2021. But now, several months later, we realize that the pandemic may also affect ICRS 2021 because of the enduring risk of infection, related travel restrictions, and implementation limitations.
To accommodate the above considerations, we have now started to develop a hybrid strategy that combines the planned ICRS 2021 On-Site event from July 18-23 in Bremen with ICRS 2021 Online. This will provide not only on-site, but also online participants the opportunity to have their work evaluated, seen, and discussed by the coral reef community. The detailed implementation of this strategy strongly depends on the development of the pandemic, the availability of additional funding, and the number of registered on-site & online participants. When we have all necessary information, we will announce the detailed strategy for ICRS 2021 Hybrid.
We are pleased that we were able to achieve this solution together with our partners, although it was a great challenge and effort to realise the postponement ICRS 2021 with our new hybrid strategy. The planning of conferences and events for 2021 is already quite advanced and at the same time very tense. This is due to the COVID-19 crisis, which currently affects the majority of events scheduled for 2020.
Not only conferences, but also coral reefs worldwide are currently in a very difficult situation. Developing science-based solutions for the global coral reef crisis requires a platform that brings together researchers, conservationists, reef managers, and decision makers for personal dialogue. Saving the ICRS, The global quadrennial coral reef conference, was therefore our highest priority. Now is the time to stand together and join forces to tackle the challenging future of coral reefs!
Our first aim is to maintain the sessions and workshops planned for the ICRS 2020, as they cover the wide range of related topics and disciplines well. However, due to the new hybrid strategy, we extend the deadline for abstract submission until October 15th. This provides the opportunity to participate on-site, online, or both – and gives the necessary time to prepare new abstracts. We now particularly invite abstracts from people that want to join online only, but of course also abstracts from people that want to join on-site can be submitted until the new deadline. During the submission process, people are now asked to indicate if their submission should be presented online only. We have introduced this in order to get more quantitative information about the interest for the online component of ICRS 2021 Hybrid. As with the on-site submissions, all new abstracts will be evaluated for quality in a double-blind mode, and abstract submitters will be notified of acceptance by the end of 2020.
Only during registration (opens in early 2021), participants decide whether they want to present and register for the on-site event, online only, or both components of ICRS 2021 Hybrid. This means that participants who have already submitted their abstracts can switch to the online presentation later during registration, if the development of the pandemic makes this necessary. Registration fees for the online only option will be approximately 50 % of the rate for the on-site event.
Below you will find the latest information on the ongoing process of developing the ICRS 2021 scientific program, which aims to incorporate the already planned program of the ICRS 2020.
All presenters with an accepted abstract for ICRS 2020 have the opportunity to retain their acceptance and presentation assignment (oral or poster) for the ICRS 2021 by re-submitting to the new Call for Abstracts, which offers the following options:
All abstract submitters will be notified of acceptance by the end of this year.
Many thanks for your understanding. We hope to welcome you in Bremen in July 2021 under much better circumstances. Please stay healthy and safe!
With kind regards,
Christian Wild (Chairman 14th ICRS) and the whole Local Organising Committee