Joanna Haigh, Professor and Co Director of the Grantham Institute launched the day with the big picture of Climate Change. The world is currently more than half way to the 2°C “dangerous change” threshold and global decarbonisation of energy supplies is a necessity to constrain global warming.

We heard a quick fire round of presentations including Rob Scully of Zap Concepts, who demonstrated how their “Smart Power Plan” helped Xtrema Outdoors to reduce their fuel  and  generator use by 62% and 38% respectively over 4 years by working with the suppliers and organisers to correctly spec, monitor and analyse the true power needs of the event. Sarah Chayantz of We Love Green showed their amazing reclaimed stage design and creation project with full circular economy approach. Finally Dr Jonathan Winfield of UWE’s Bristol Bioenergy Centre amazed us with the Pee Powered Toilet which takes urine as a fuel source and turns it in to energy – cleansing the urine in the process! He noted that Glastonbury urine was perhaps an unusual specimen!


Teresa Moore and Claire O’Neill give insight to their re-launched Greener Festival Award inviting applicants, and announced the new Festival Environmental Auditor training. With the first training days scheduled for April and May it is now open to all with an interest in deepening their knowledge of Festival and Event Sustainability.


After a short break Holger Jan Schmidt of Yourope and Go Group welcomed a stellar line up of festival organisers including Jason Mayall from Fuji Rock Festival, Japan, Peter Noble from Bluesfest Byron Bay, Australia, Michal Kaščák, Pahoda Festival, Slovakia and Steve Taylor from Lake of Stars, Malawi. Fuji Rock Festival gave incredible insight in to the festivals full life cycle actions, from turning wood to chop sticks and plastic bottle tops to staff jackets! They sort all waste on site meticulously with every bin manned.

Chris Togu & Fruzsina Szep

Chris Tofu & Fruzsina Szep


The following session presented by the enigmatic Chris Tofu really left us stunned and inspired. Welcoming Maxine McMinn of the Refugee council who drove home that refugees are in all towns and cities, and should be welcomed and integrated with society by inclusion in our events, and Tim Benson spoke of the work to take solar panels to the communities of Malawi with Love Support Unite Foundation. There was barely a dry eye in the house hearing from Steve Bedlam of Refugee Community Kitchen, arriving direct from Calais and back there now.. To gain insight in to the suffering of people who “feel like they are no longer human”, unable to feed, cloth or house their families. Up to 80% of the people on the ground helping the refugees are not from international charities, but individuals from the festival community giving their time and skills. There is a fear for what will happen in summer when that community return to make a living in festivals and the number of refugees increases with the calmer seas of the summer. This session was rounded off by Fruzsina Szep of Lollopolooza Berlin who presented the Yourope Mission Statement. The importance of the Cultural industries in being a positive influence for connecting people of all cultures, races, sexual orientations and nations in celebration, must unquestionably be a driving force behind what we as a community and industry do.

t-in-park-moving-2015-strathallanT IN THE PARK – STEVE TAYLOR

After lunch Steve Taylor of T In The Park give a hugely insightful account of the works and experiences of the festival this summer in their highly public site move and the Environmental impact assessment, planning permission and conditions they had to fulfil. Due to the added conditions the festival had to be entirely built in 7 weeks.  Taylor highlighted how they underwent a level of biodiversity assessment that he had never experienced before. A huge amount was learned and level of commitment of the team behind the event is ongoing to continue to work with the site and with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

Disruptring Complacency Panel

Disruptring Complacency Panel


The following Disrupting Complacency Session, presented by Juhi Shareef, was indeed rather disruptive with some explosive discussions and viewpoints put forwards. Livvy Drake of Shambala festival spoke of the events announcement for the festival to go meat free this year, followed by Hamish Skermer’s announcement that running your own festival essentially means you become “self declared mayor of utopia” and stressed that if we always follow bureaucratic processes to the letter we will stifle innovation and progress. Skermer also highlighted the British ability to “have a very high tolerance of a very low expectation” in the case of festival toilets as something quite incredible but also unnecessary.

Steve Muggeridge came from an opposite perspective of a festival organiser in the form of community led Green Gathering where there is a democratic process to all decisions effecting the festival community. Muggeridge highlighted that if you treat punters like punters they behave that way, whereas if they are involved in the decision for a change they police themselves, and stressed the need for greater stakeholdership, communication and engagement which demonstrates why a change is a good idea.

Rob Scully gave an example of the stainless steel cup produced for Glastonbury Festival, where 200,000 will be used on site this summer. Much of implementation is allaying fear of operational issues or impact on sales. This raised the concept of “rapid prototyping” through festivals, and certainly in the case of the cups it was trailed and in fact easier than expected – now ready large scale implementation. Livvy Drake highlighted that money saved on cleaner site and not having to empty bins, as well as positive impact for audience having a clean site should be included when weighing up whether to do this. Initiatives should not be considered in isolation but take in to account the bigger picture.


Moderated by Caroline Clift of Stand Out Magazine we heard from 3 great collectives in the events industry starting with Creative Carbon Scotland and Festival Edinburgh who represent 12 festivals in the region. They find great advantage from being able to share risks with new approaches towards sustainability. Dominique Behar of Réseau éco événment quote a wonderful African saying “Alone I go faster, together we go further”. His collective in Nantes represent many different kinds of events, and as well as the environmental focus aim to increase accessibility of events not only for those with physical disabilities but also those economically disabled, for example the homeless. Dominique highlighted that cities are trying to change the behaviour of its inhabitants, and we are helping them to do this.

Dominique called for submissions to the Climate Change Summit in Nantes this September, the deadline in 7th April. Chris Johnson called for the industry to unite and sign up to the Festival Vision 2015, as well as presentation of the outstanding Show Must Go On report which is an in depth look at where the industry is right now in relation to its impacts on the environment, and where it need to be heading.

Finally, Greg Parmley joined to give a snapshot of what the ILMC have been working on to raise their own sustainability performance with actions to reduce waste through all aspects of the event and raise awareness amongst exhibitors and delegates. The biggest impact for ILMC is the audience travel, which is why they have included an optional contribution to the Festival Wood project from A Greener Festival and Trees for Life to reforest the Scottish Highlands. Greg highlighted that the green sessions he has tried to co-ordinate at ILMC in the past were disappointingly attended, and there is a need to raise the engagement of the sector in these important issues. The partnership with GEI is helping to bridge this gap between belief, intention and action.

By |2016-11-01T15:03:36+00:00March 10th, 2016|AGF Blog|