Green Events and Innovations

Green Events and Innovations conference round up

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The 15th edition of the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI), the conference for sustainable events, was a sold out success with more than 350 delegates and an agenda with heavyweight speakers, innovators and industry leaders in the global live music, sports and event sector.

Taking place at the Royal Lancaster London and supported by Ecotricity, this year’s edition tackled the critical sustainability issues with a gender-balanced lineup of speakers who brought their knowledge, insight, and formidable passion to the panels and conversations.

Proceedings started with AGF CEO Claire O’Neill and director Teresa Moore revealing that, after 17 years, the company was rebranded as A Greener Future in order to reflect the organisation’s evolution beyond festivals to support the broader live events sector.

With that announcement out of the way, the conference kicked off with Adapting to a New Climate Panel and Boom Festival’s Artur Mendes boldly stating that “we won’t work with brands or policy makers who aren’t aligned with our values”. While The Platinum Jubilee Pageant case study took a look at the sustainability actions and takeaways from organising this huge and iconic event; and Mark Stevenson (CUR8) highlighted some key facts in Carbon Offsets: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, saying that “Any new fossil fuel exploration is a gun held to humanity’s head”.

AGF and YOUROPE launched their European Green Festival Roadmap 2030 and Switching on Your Audience – Creative Climate Communication, which involved a lively discussion about how organisations are engaging their audiences and fans, with Hannah Cox, director betternotstop, saying “It’s taking responsibility as a human being for what you create in the world,” and “If you’re running a festival, that is your values being shown to the world, and you have to stand up for what you believe in”.

In the Moving on from Fossil Fuels panel the O2’s Richard Godsell highlighted the need for venues to act as one on significant changes through groups such as NAA, so that leading venues aren’t alienated and the whole touring circuit is improved.

Elsewhere, the ACT 1.5 Exclusive Research session, supported by the hugely successful trip-hop collective Massive Attack and the Arts Council England (ACE), saw ACT 1.5 (a research project exploring challenges set out in the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research’s Live Music Roadmap) under discussion. The session saw writer and producer Mark Donne comment, “I firmly believe in ‘piloting by behaviour.’ Not just putting people on stage and giving them the t-shirt.”

The Quick-Fire Innovation Round presented unique and innovative sustainability ideas including: how the team at Carnicycle are making carnivals sustainable; The Green Room’s approach to sustainable tools for online music; FWRD’s innovative ways to improve bin use through gamification; GEIA’s ideas to support forest restoration; and how Again use technology to make reusable packaging more accessible than ever before.

Then five years on since the first Greener Tour panel, John Robb headed up a discussion on what has changed, what can be changed, and the practicalities of trying to change the touring model. The panel saw Jamal Chalabi (Backlash Productions / AGF) stating frankly, “Everyone thinks it’s about the artist leading it. The artist is really good at messaging, but it’s the industry that needs to get our shit together.”

The day closed with the 16th edition of the International AGF Awards ceremony in which the most innovative and worthy events, venues, organisations, and individuals from worldwide events over the last 12 months were celebrated.

Forest Green Rovers became the first football club to win, scooping both the Catering and Pied Piper Awards. Also winning dual awards were The Netherlands DGTL and the UK’s Green Gathering, with other winners Boom Festival in Portugal, and Spain’s Sonidos Líquidos and WomanInFan at Sitges Film Festival. The coveted International Greener Festival Award went to Green Gathering.

Full list of International AGF Award winners:
Circular Event Award – DGTL
Greener Power Award – Green Gathering
Greener Catering Award (supported by Matthew Clark) – Forest Green Rovers
Community Action Award – Sonidos Liquidos
AGF Water & Sanitation Award (supported by Loowatt) – Boom
Greener Transport Award – DGTL
Pied Piper Award – Forest Green Rovers
Greener Innovations Award – WomanInFan@Sitges
International Greener Festival (supported by STACK-CUP) – Green Gathering

Image: Lou Cacciatore