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GEI 2020: Six key takeaways

From food to festivals, plastic to sustainable electric, highlights from the 12th Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI)

By IQ on 04 Mar 2020

YUAF's Kerry O'Brien and the Membranes’ John Robb on the It's A Human Story panel

YUAF's Kerry O'Brien and the Membranes’ John Robb on the It's A Human Story panel

image © Bogdan Maran/AMMP

Torchbearers for sustainability and AGF directors, Claire O’Neill and Teresa Moore, welcomed the festival and events industry to the 12th Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI). From food waste to transport, audience engagement to sustainable electricity, here are six key takeaways from GEI 12…

1) Panel: Focus on Festivals – Living Lab of Live
In collaboration with Green Deal Circular Festivals, this panel discussed moving from waste to resource and exploring the challenges and advancements of the circular festival vision. How can we control consumer behaviour? How can we wrestle control of the festival supply chain?

Paul Reed broadcast details of the Drastic on Plastic pledge in the second of its three-year timescale and disclosed the wider campsite waste problem. Campsite waste accounts for a much larger sustainability depreciation than plastic cups, mainly through leaving behind tents and other excess waste; experts shared their findings and visionary methods of tackling the problem.

“We know 5–15 times’ reuse of a reusable cup makes it better than any single-use cup” — Claire O’Neill (A Greener Festival)

2) Breakout Session: Innovation Quick Fire Round – Future Flash
Chris Hurdle of Electric Wheels explained the availability and benefits of electric transport. Hurdle dispelled myths and misinformation regarding the electric vehicle revolution.

In addition, Jacob Bossaer of Bosaq shed light on the challenges of water circulation, creating decentralised water networks, sustainable solutions, economic value and conservation.

3) Panel: It’s a Human Story
Moderated by: John Robb (The Membranes)
Speakers: Laima Leyton (Soulwax), Holger Jan Schmidt (Take A Stand), Kerry O’Brien (YUAF), Chiara Badiali (Music Declares Emergency)

This talk explored how to engage and motivate people young and old to make a difference in the climate conversation, covering both social and environmental issues faced on a worldwide scale. Can music relay the sustainability message?

Panellists investigated the potential art and creativity has to facilitate attitude changes across generations, crystallising our roles in creating a sustainable future and supporting the creative sustainability narrative. How can we make the story a human one?

“If you want to eat seasonal and local in London in March you will not eat” — Kate Cooper (Birmingham Food Council)

4) Breakout Session: Saving the World begins at Breakfast
Moderator: Mark Laurie (NCASS)
Speakers: Kate Cooper (Birmingham Food Council), Javier Rojo (Quantum Waste), Mia Frogner (Øyafestivalen)

An exploration of the impact of food and catering on the environment. This discussion covered food waste, food salvaging and food safety. What is organic, seasonal and local food? When there is little profit in locally sourced goods, what are the chances for the sustainability of food production? What is a sensibly use of land for food production? How do we find different ways of fertilising our soils? Is organic food a western indulgence?

Hard talk regarding the future of food sustainability and the perils of our wide-ranging food trends – and a commissioned musical about food crime…

5) A Greener Tour – Round 2!
Moderator: Gordon Masson (IQ Magazine)
Speakers: Coralie Berael (Forest National Arena); Tanner Watt (REVERB); Emma Banks (Creative Artists Agency (CAA); Patricia Yagüe (Live Nation); Rebecca Travis (RT Tour Management)

A frank discussion on artist, promoters, venues, tour managers and production companies’ sustainable actions and initiatives. This panel confronted the issues of single-use plastic and how the industry has pushed back on environmental impact reduction. Additionally, our speakers put the spotlight on audience transportation and the idea of climate positivity, as opposed to carbon neutrality.

“Single-use plastic is going to be banned by 2021” — Patricia Yagüe (Live Nation)

6) Øya Festival: International Greener Festival Award winners!
Øya Festival in Oslo have been pioneers and passionate drivers in the green event space since their dedicated environmental actions began in 2002. This has gradually grown to be an integrated space of management, manifested in sustainable food experiences, a green purchasing policy, fossil-free transportation, emission reductions and sophisticated resource management. The organisational focus draws on experience and competent external partners to achieve pioneering new standards for environmental festival management.

Øya has gained national recognition as a special festival of expertise, and willingly shares experience with other festivals, locally and abroad. In 2004 it contributed to making a festival-specific criterion for the national Eco-lighthouse certification and a guide book to environmental outdoor events, revised in 2017.

Øya was one of the first festivals to speak at GEI back in around 2008, and have been Outstanding award winners in the Greener Festival Awards for over ten years.


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