The first Sustainable Events Management Conference, hosted and organised by Buckinghamshire New University and sponsored by A Greener Festival, Julie’s Bicycle and the European festival’s association Yourope, proved a big hit with delegates at Missenden Abbey on the 23rd September. The one day conference, with delegates from Denmark, Eire, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom, featured presentations from Meegan Jones (Festival Republic) on the waste salvage programme at Reading Festival, from Thomas Neibuhr (Roskilde Festival) on Roskilde’s climate change campaign and a keynote speach from Alison Tickell (Julies Bicycle) on the impact of travel. The afternoon kicked off with a panel chaired by Ben Challis (AGF) featuring Bob Wilson (Greenpeace), Claire O’Neill (AGF/Association of Independent Festivals) and Joby Russell (Big Green Coach Company) along with Meegan and Alison looking at the topic ‘is green too expensive’ and this was followed by a presentation from Penny Mellor (the event safety and welfare specialist and one of A Greener Festival’s environmental assessors) on new developments and trends in environmentally friendly practices at music festivals. The whole day was chaired by Teresa Moore (Bucks Uni) who summarised a number of key thoughts from the Conference:
* Behavioural change is critical – from organisers to the audience to crew to artists to suppliers to regulators.
* Event organisers and artists can influence environmentally friendly practices by managing the supply chain
* Benchmarking and working towards year on year reductions in carbon emissions is an important step forward.
* Clear and authoritative research is critical – it supports change – but when implemented organisers need to balance scietific evidence with practical decision making
* Events are often strong brands and can be used to influence others such as sponsors and suppliers.
* Implementing green can be expensive initially but as an ongoing process soon benefits from economies of scale
* It is clear that in the future legislative change will mean we will all have to implement cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. Doing nothing is not an option. Preparing for change is responsible and sensible action.
* There will soon be a cost in NOT having sustainability at the core of your business
Delegtates included representatives from Ruisrock Turku (Finland), Open Air St Gallen (Switzerland), RheinKultur (Germany), Provinssirock (Finland), The Glastonbury Festival (UK), Reading and Leeds Festival (UK), Lattitude (UK), The City of London Festival (UK), The Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Roskilde Festival (Denmark) , North Sea Jazz Festival, Lowlands Festival (both in the Netherlands), Vantaan Festival (Finland), Derby College (UK) , Buckinghamshire New University (UK), Espirit Arena (Germany) and Trinity College Dublin (Eire).