Celebrating its 10th year at the Royal Garden Hotel, the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) attracted a record number of delegates with more than 150 people taking part in the day’s discussions and activities.
The conference involved numerous presentations and debates on how to improve the carbon footprint of festivals and other events. Proceedings kicked off with a series of quick-fire rounds on new innovations and approaches to reducing events environmental impacts, including Enviro-cup’s reusable stainless steel cups, ButtiFly’s campaign to stop people discarding cigarette butts on the floor, and a fantastic presentation by 13-year-old Danilo Manuputty and his sister Sisley Beau (17) from Kick Event reminding the audience that we need to involve the next generation in our efforts to provide a cleaner greener world for their future.
Other presentations throughout the day included a session on the ECO Coin crypto currency; Liz Warwick of Landsdowne Warwick Sustainability Consultancy spoke about ways to reduce the use of vehicles travelling to events; A Greener Festival’s Teresa Moore asking why audiences seem so reluctant to clean up their act; while Ed Cook from Resources Futures detailed advancements in recycling.
Panel sessions included fascinating debates on The Climate Justice Movement with Jamie Kelsey-Fry from New Internationalist; Tuned in Travel, hosted by Dawn Kendall and Christian Steele, which looked at ways to reduce travel emission while raising income; Taking A Stand for Social Cohesion (see below); The Facts of Live – Poo, Pee and Water, hosted by CMU’s Chris Cooke; Sustainable Procurements and Circularity, also hosted by Chris Cooke; and Plastic Seas and Campsite Chaos hosted by Natalie Fee from City to Sea. Along with exhibitions and demonstrations from Watermills, Envirocup and Tuned in Travel.
“This industry is full of people who love solving logistical problems and that’s all we need to do. We have to move away from replacing one type of disposable with another. Just stop producing it!”
The day’s keynote saw Greenpeace UK’s Bob Wilson provide a fascinating insight into the world of Greenpeace activism over the last three decades from its beginnings to the current day. “I hope everyone went away feeling well briefed and up to date after hearing from so many passionate and committed speakers,” said Wilson. “So much good intel on what’s been happening in the world of events and festivals, so plenty to put into practice if you’re not doing so already. Now the real challenge is to spread the word among your audiences. So make the change in yourselves that you want to see in others. Keep the faith,” he added.
In terms of other individual speakers, GEI’s guests made a number of crucial statements during the day’s discussion. Shane Collins of the Green Party and Green Gathering warned about the dangers of relying on carbon capture and storage as a way to avoid drastic climate change, adding that, “Music event organisers can put over cultural messages in a way that politicians can’t.” Marie Sabot of We Love Green demonstrated how a festival of near 60,000 capacity can engrain sustainability in to every aspect of the production – 100% renewable energy, dry compost toilets, reusable bottles, scenography workshops and upcycling projects of waste with local art colleges.
Rob Scully of Zap Concepts and A Greener Festival gave an enthralling demonstration of how, although more costly to begin, reusables are very quickly the cheapest and most ecological solution after a short number of uses. “This industry is full of people who love solving logistical problems and that’s all we need to do. We have to move away from replacing one type of disposable with another. Just stop producing it!” said Scully.
“So much good intel on what’s been happening in the world of events and festivals, so plenty to put into practice if you’re not doing so already. Now the real challenge is to spread the word among your audiences”
Taking A Stand for Social Cohesion
Host Holger Jan Schmidt of GO Group revealed that the Take A Stand campaign, launched at GEI and the Yourope meeting one year ago, was now supported by 87 festivals, promoters, clubs, and companies from 22 countries, and 14 associations and partners from all over the world.
Michal Kaščák of Pohoda Festival underlined the importance of people taking a stand, when he explained about his events in homeless shelters called Doma Dobre Festival, which provides housing for the homeless. He also spoke about a concert in honour of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancé Martina Kusnirova, who were shot dead, reportedly, because of Kuciak’s probing of alleged links between figures close to the Slovakian Prime Minister and the mafia – a controversy that has since led to the largest protests in Slovakia “since the fall of communism.” Kaščák added, “One thing is to take a stand, second is to be prepared and willing to take the consequences. What you stand for may be conflicting with sponsors, audience or authorities and events need to be prepared for that.”
To see more pictures of the event, click here.
After a long day of greening, delegates joined IPM delegates (whose event ran concurrent) for a closing drinks party that included a ceremony in which those festivals and events that had garnered A Greener Festival Award in 2017 took ownership of their hard-earned awards. Meanwhile, everyone had the opportunity to network, chill and continue discussions with a drink in their hands, courtesy of GEI’s good friends at Toast Ale – an artisan-crafted beer made using surplus bread.
To see more pictures of the award ceremony, click here.