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Vision: 2025 Outdoor Events Industry Green Survey Reveals How Covid Has Affected Sustainability And Plans For 2021

Vision: 2025’s 2020 Green Survey revealed a good news trend towards more sustainable events in the wake of a year of Covid-19 cancellations, with a whopping 85% more organisers looking to come back greener.

The annual Vision: 2025 Green Industry Survey questioned organisers priorities and sustainability plans for 2021. Despite holding no events due to the pandemic, event organisers remain committed to environmental action, with one in three saying their experience of this year has made environmental sustainability a higher priority, and a further 50% maintaining carbon reduction as important.

The survey received responses, representing more than 100 UK outdoor events and festivals with an estimated combined audience of almost 2,000,000.

While responses revealed positive aspirations, there are, however, widespread concerns about how the financial fallout from this year’s season will impact events’ ability to invest in environmental initiatives. There are also doubts whether longer-term shifts (like audiences being wary of public transport) will harm chances of progress, and how to plan for continued uncertainty.

With only a few years left to take decisive meaningful action on climate, the roadmap to halve industry emissions set out in the Show Must Go On Report, and the actions taken by organisers in 2021 remain vital.

The Vision: 2025 steering group are determined to support organisers through the Vision: 2025 knowledge hub in 2021 to encourage and enable reductions in real terms. It’s a tough time for the festival industry and we are committed to help our membership and the wider industry to show leadership to festivals, outdoor events and their audiences to focus on carbon reduction.

AGF are supporting and collaborating with the international festival community at the AGF Festival meetings, and will be supporting festivals throughout 2021 and beyond with the AGF Award and CO2 analysis, and biodiversity impact assessments.

Now that we have heard from the organisers, what are the audience saying?

HEADLINE FINDINGS:

– One in three event organisers (35%) say that their experience of this year means that environmental sustainability has become a higher priority, and for half (50%) there has been no change. A much smaller number (7%) state that sustainability has become a lower priority, or don’t know (6%).

– One in three event organisers (37%) say they will implement the same environmental measures in 2021 than were planned for this year, while one in three (30%) will implement more ambitious plans – one in four (28%) are not yet certain, while a small number (6%) say they will implement less ambitious plans in 2021.

For those implementing less ambitious sustainability plans, the main reasons are overwhelmingly a lack of budget and a lack of staff resource – though many are citing high levels of uncertainty.

The person who normally manages sustainability for their event has continued to work for 3 in 4 respondents (76%), while 1 in 4 (24%) sustainability leads have not been working or furloughed.

AREAS OF FOCUS FOR ACTION

– The top three sustainable priorities identified by event organisers are; tackling single use, aiming for zero waste and achieving net zero emissions, and there is encouraging news about reusable cups, with three quarters of events that already use them intending to continue in 2021.

– All of the respondents stated that aiming for net zero emissions is important, however more than half (56%) are not currently measuring their carbon footprint.

– Understanding of bioplastics is a challenge, with over half saying they are confused about this material.

– Key drivers of learning and action continue to be case studies and industry events, and we are pleased to be building a comprehensive collection of case studies as part of the resources accompanying the Show Must Go On Report on the Vision:2025 online knowledge hub.

The survey was published by Vision: 2025 and ran from July – September 2020. Analysis by Chiara Badiali, Julie’s Bicycle, with input from Chris Johnson, Chair, Vision 2025. We acknowledge that things are shifting fast, however, the answers nonetheless give us a valuable snapshot that will help inform our work over the next 12 months. With thanks to everyone who has given us their time.

Join us where the festival and events industry come together, at the Green Event & Innovations Conference on 2nd March 2021 to build a greener post Covid world together.