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Green Events & Innovations Conference Returns with a Bang!

AGF’s Green Events & Innovations (GEI) conference was back with a bang, celebrating its 14th Edition in person, in London, on 29th April 2022.

With a stunning and diverse range of over 40 speakers, the conference delivered a varied agenda to packed audiences, covering a host of topical sustainability issues in the live events sector. A range of specialist panels brought insight, passion, emotion, and knowledge to a range of topics.

Hosted by John Robb (Louder Than War) the panel Action. Time. Vision. saw panellists share their experiences, motivations, and their thoughts on the power of the individual.

Credit: James Drury

Fay Milton (Music Declares Emergency) said,

“We’re the first generation to really understand the weight on our shoulders…and the last generation able to do anything about it”.

Sangeeta Pilla (Soul Sutras) added,

“Change is a collective. Change is one person challenging a narrative, and then 50 other people joining, and then 5000”.

Other panels included; Stepping Into A Greener Arena, which discussed the work being done in both new and old venues to become more sustainable.  The Energy & Transport panel stirred a lively debate on what’s needed to transform the industry away from damaging fossil fuel consumption. Glen Lyons (UWE) gave a compelling presentation on the transport industry and the size of the transformation challenge.

“It’s partly a revolution of hearts and minds, things have changed so much in the last 4 years…hearts and minds are being changed and we are having a quiet revolution. We are incredibly resistant to change, but incredibly adaptable when a change of circumstances is thrust upon us”.

On energy, Dale Vince (Ecotricity) said,

“We have to stop subsidising fossil fuels, we make them cheaper than they really are. Football and the music industry have the biggest opportunities to bring about change”.

Two “Deep Dive” sessions brought experts together to discuss two very important and inter-related topics. Circularity – Come Fill Your Cup hosted by Andy Lenthall (Festival Insights) explored the latest technologies, processes, and opportunities for reducing the impact of cups at live events. In the second deep dive, Sustaining What Sustains Us, the topic of food and beverage was explored. Helen Taylor (Forest Green Rovers FC) spoke of creating a world first by making Forest Green Rovers the first football club in the world to become 100% Vegan.

“It was done all through attitude, we were not apologetic about what we were doing. Being vegan has given us an edge. In a way, it has propelled us into a new recognition”.

A European perspective was provided through two sessions. Firstly, a panel discussion on European Cooperation in the Live Music Sector. The session highlighted 3 projects which are supporting European cooperation; GEX (Green European Experience), Future Ready, and Fusion.  Commenting on Fusion, Kara Djurhuus (Roskilde Festival) also highlighted the potential for festivals as platforms for social change,

“Festivals can be used as stepping-stones for young people, to realise their innovative ideas, products, new approaches, methods and also collective ways of working together”.

Secondly a workshop on the European Green Festival Roadmap 2030 discussed those issues that underpin advances in sustainability such as training, scientific knowledge, cultural change, education, and collaboration.

In the Quick-Fire Innovation Round, a wondrous range of new innovations were presented to an enthralled audience. Hannah Jukes (Bodyheat) explained their revolutionary renewable heating system which collects heat from crowds such as clubbers or gig-goers, then stores than energy for re-use days or weeks down the line. Hannah explained,

“Imagine 2000 bodies dancing beneath galvanised steel. Imagine we could bottle that party and use it again as energy. “Today’s parties fuel tomorrow’s parties”.

There was also time in a very busy day to celebrate AGFs award winners. In a landmark moment, Glasgow’s OVO Hydro became the first ever venue to be awarded AGF’s A Greener Venue Award. AGF were also delighted to announce the AGF Festival Award Winners of 2021, with elrow Town (Netherlands) and Paradise City (Belgium) picking up their awards in person.

Credit: James Drury

The day’s proceedings concluded with the Keynote Conversation which brought together the talents and wisdom of Brian Eno, Aurora, and Love Ssega to discuss how the energy of the live music can be harnessed for the benefit of the planet. Brian Eno commented,

“We tend to realise just as things are disappearing that we wanted them. Because of the good side of mass media, we may be a little further ahead this time. Nobody has been more effective in making people fall in love with the planet than David Attenborough has”.

Aurora summed up the importance of communication and the power of the individual by saying.

“We need to find better ways of communicating everything in a way where everyone understands, and feels connected to it. Apathy is the biggest enemy of progress”.

We can do so much as individuals. When you make people love themselves and fix our very flawed infrastructure, that’s the best start to any victory or battle”.

And that was GEI14, an enthralling day of Green chat and discussion. There was nothing left to do other than celebrate, network and chillax with a glass of champagne (or three) in the hotel bar courtesy of our friends at Moet Hennessey.

Special thanks to our sponsors Ecotricity, Ball Corporation, and De La Maison for their kind support.

See you at GEI15!