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We’re just back from Finland where The Ilosaarirock Festival and the North Karelia University of Applied Sciences hosted a new conference on sustainable events at the Kerubi club in Joensuu in Eastern Finland with delegates comprising crew and volunteers from the Flow Festival, the Ruisrock Festival and the Ilosaarirock Festival. And a fine fine event it was too with some really interesting presentations. The afternoon started with an introduction from Marja-Liisa Ruotsalainen from the North Karelia University and from Katri Kilpia from Ilosaarirock, and this was followed by a really interesting and inspiring presentation fom Jacob Bilabel from the Green Music Initiative in Germany titled “Groove to Save The World?”. Green Music Initiative’s mission is to accelerate change to a lower carbon society and its objective is to create sustainable business solutions. With Germany looking to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 The GMI already has a number of projects in place including an annual dinners to bring together the German music industry on sustainability issues, the Green Club Index which promotes energy efficiency in music clubs, the pan-European ‘One Million’ campaign to lobby for political change and GO Europe – Green Operations Europe – a pan-European think tank on sustainability in the music industry. Participation is open for Europeans actively pushing the Green Agenda in their Music and Entertainment businesses and members include YOUROPE, the European Festivals organisation, the Green Music Initiative, Julies Bicycle, Bucks New University, Melt! Festival, RhineKultur Festival, Oya Festival, Green Events Germany and A Greener Action. As Jacob says, there is no time left – Less Talk, More Action is needed and gave some interesting examples of sustainability from the Coachella Festival in the USA, Primavera Sound Festival in Spain,Radioheads touring initiatives and the Berlin Festival – whuich uses LED lighting to reduce electricity use by 60%.
The next speaker was Linnea Svensson from the Oya Festival in Norway. In another excellent presentation Linnea explained Oya’s development and described a number of the exciting sustainability initiatives at the Festival. Oya won the Outstanding Greener Festival Award in 2010, and in 2009 was the overall winner of the Green ‘n’ Clean Award at the inaugural European Festival Awards. Oya recently swapped to mains grid power from 100% sustainable sources – locally produced hydro-electricity – in the process reducing power use by 80% in the process compared to the use of generators. The Festival also has well developed travel plans, on-site recycling and a well planned purchasing system to ensure that food and catering is both organic and as local as possible. Linnea’s advice to delegates was (1) Calculate your needs and define specific goals and visions. (2) Find local solutions (3) Make the whole organization a part of the change! (4) Find original solutions and (5) Keep updated, show your commitment, built a network.
The final speaker was Ben Challis from A Greener Festival who described the Greener Festival Awards scheme which AGF now run accross Europe, North America and Australia as well as giving more detailed reports on green initiatives at Festivals including Glastonbury, Sonisphere and The Isle of Wight in the UK, Bonnaroo in the USA and Boom in Portugal. Ben also emphasised the role of music and culture in promoting change, including the role of artists and festivals as instigators of change, both through influencing the audience as well as promoting change in the supply change. Ben also described the work of Reverb / Green Music group in the USA on greening tours, Julies Bicycle in the UK and Green Events Germany.