The IMPEL General Assembly meeting (2 and 3 December 2020) started flawlessly in an online environment, with over 70 persons attending. Originally planned to be held physically in Berlin, due to the pandemic it is instead organised online and hosted by German National Coordinator and IMPEL chair mrs. Kristina Rabe and German National Representative mr. Matthias Sauer of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The Federal Republic of Germany fulfills the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 July to 31 December 2020.
After a keynote speech by Director mr. Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea of the EU Commission (DG Environment), the focus was on the impact of COVID-19 on the daily work of the IMPEL community, taking stock of experiences and looking forward to future adaptations. The general expectation encompasses a more hybrid way of working; a combination of (less) physical and (more) virtual work-related circumstances. A positive side effect of this is less CO2 emissions being caused by IMPEL travel, which was also debated.
Besides the impact of COVID-19, another main theme was the governance assessment of the IMPEL Network that took place during 2020. The General Assembly discussed this important review and the recommendations during their intensive meetings. An online voting system was put in place to facilitate a formal and legitimate decision-making process.
In addition, some time was built in for leisure and fun. The General Assembly members caught up and chatted informally with each other during evening drinks, consisting of Christmas tea or mulled wine, kindly offered by the German hosts mrs. Kristina Rabe and mr. Matthias Sauer. Dedicated meeting rooms were created online with Berlin highlights’ names, such as the Brandenbourg Gate, Berlin Wall Memorial, Check Point Charlie, Potsdammer Platz and Museum Island.