Towards a sustainable future

While the pandemic has had a profound impact on the Society over the past two years, it has also meant that the Society found new and creative ways of pursuing its charitable objectives. Among many other things, the Society launched new grant schemes, ran numerous online meetings and events, participated virtually in major international conferences and successfully developed an on-line A-level mathematics tutoring programme.

The Society is now carrying forward the lessons learnt from the pandemic with new ways of working, which are more cost effective, more inclusive and more environmentally friendly. In 2020-2021 the Society adopted an environmental policy statement and the Society’s Council made it clear that the Society should be a leader in the mathematics community in relation to sustainability.

Building on the environmental policy statement, LMS Vice-President Iain Gordon has consulted representatives from several LMS committees as well as individuals from other organisations to understand how the Society can work effectively towards sustainability across its activities.

At its meeting in November 2021, LMS Council was asked to consider a number of proposed actions to increase the sustainability of the Society's events and activities, including for example:

  • Reducing travel that is not carbon efficient.
  • Running hybrid meetings.
  • Offsetting the carbon emissions from travel that continues to take place as part of the Society’s events and activities.
  • Considering the Society’s direct footprint (for example, the footprint of the buildings that the Society owns) and its own environmental sustainability.

The paper noted that it is also important that the Society uses its convening power to raise awareness across the mathematical research community of sustainability issues and what can be done to address them, including in particular engaging with its own membership. The Society should aim to lead by example on these issues and to communicate clearly and regularly on the progress it is making.

Council supported the direction of travel in the paper and more work is now underway to identify the priority areas for action. While one of the Society’s core objectives is to manage its own affairs and resources effectively and sustainably, it also recognises the benefit of such actions for its members, the mathematical community as a whole and the wider world.