The Green Event & Innovations Conference (GEI15) presented by AGF

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The Royal Lancaster Hotel, on Hyde Park, was subject to an £80m 50th anniversary refurbishment in 2017, which it wears very well. ILMC is here all week and the venue sits comfortably alongside the event’s former home in High Street Kensington.

Presented by A Greener Festival (now A Greener Future) in the same location as its ILMC partner, the Green Event & Innovations Conference (GEI15) was equally sold-out.

Either side of the ‘vegan lunchtime feast’ competent, consummate hosts steered panels through not just the sustainable ‘big hits’ but, by the same metaphor, the difficult album tracks too.

Introduced by hosts Claire O’Neill and Teresa Moore from A Greener Festival (AGF), the day was equally parallel and joined-up thinking, with sessions running side by side to accommodate the weight of content.

Supported by ecotricity, Earth/Percent, Proper Productions, Ticketsellers and Nordic Wristbands – countless other too of course, but those were the sponsors listed on screens ahead of the sessions and on the hard copy agenda booklet – GEI15 is the product of a laudable cross section of bonafide ‘ecoists’ and ‘ecoverts’.

Adapting To The New Climate, one of the two opening sessions, highlighted the strength and depth in the sequence. Celebrated sports broadcaster Jonathan Overend (ITV/BBC) chaired a balanced panel of three: Jane Healy from Glastonbury/Boomtown Fair, Artur Mendes, co-manager of Portugal’s Boom Festival, and the Met Office’s own Ric Robins.

The hook there was Mendes’ digging into the Boom picture, literally given the magnificent backdrop images he incorporated.

A biennial event held lake-side in Idanha-a-Nova, Boom has countless awards for its environmentalism – six Outstanding Greener Festival gongs among them; its sense of sustainability pretty much unsurpassed.

Mendes and company’s achievements, ‘inspiring the municipality’ are so inspiring it could seem off the page compared to ‘encouraging recycling in a festival site’, but the structure of GEI15, the huge interest in it, means no step anywhere is any less important than any other.

That’s the power of a successful event. Like watching a favourite performer/sports person, credible proponents spelling out what can be done triggers action and ambition. The Mendes bottom line, “How can we integrate a good human experience with the landscape?” echoes right across event world. Or certainly should.

The room 1 and 2 roster at GEI15 makes it impossible to see all of every session for reasons given – up until the Brian Eno/Jacob Hollier headline set there were shuffles of people switching from the second half of one to the beginning of the other. But too much content is a good problem to have.

The European Green Festival Roadmap 2030, setting out to highlight what the responsible future looks like, was another standard bearer session with its ‘create a baseline and do better’ style.

Among the promises, a 55 per cent cut in emissions, low carbon travel for all and zero waste to landfill. Holger Jan Schmidt, YouRope’s general secretary, and Nikita Coulter from AGF, pointed out some big hills and ways around/over them, again emphasising the power of collective effort – people, events, countries signing up to ambitious but achievable agenda.

Among the other sessions, Switching On Your Audience – Creative Climate Communication, saw Zed Anwar detailing the thinking behind his viral Greenpeace campaign which stripped the animals at the heart of logos for the likes of Jaguar, Dodge, Mustang and Ferrari back to their skeletons, highlighting petrol/diesel cars’ impact on the natural world. Hosted by journalist/broadcaster Lucy Seigle, attendees also heard from betternotstop founder Hannah Cox and Chris Tofu, who came with typically candid tales of sustainable revolution.

Food: Back To the Future, across the hall in Room 1, was a timely half an hour – 12:30pm to 1pm – about sustainable eating, regenerative farming and much more besides. Ecotricity man Dale Vince, who owns vegan football club Forest Green Rovers, talking to Andy Cato, co-founder of Wildfarmed and one half of Groove Armada. 

The Green Event & Innovations Conference isn’t a cheap ticket but it is value for money. The lunch was fabulous variety, very much in step with the Vince/Cato message, and catering throughout the day was of a high standard. There was plenty of water – in glasses not plastic bottles – the event layout was good, the rooms comfortable and the conversation as full of ideas as the content.

Hosted by Emma-Louise Amanshia, Music As A Social Synchroniser, the keynote conversation, saw Brian Eno, no less, and Jacob Collier putting in a real performance, amplifying the power of the arts.

Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Collier brought his prowess for drawing a proper tune from even the most unpracticed audience by splitting the room into three sections, giving each a note across two or three octaves and bringing them together with remarkable harmony. An exemplary bit of participation/flesh and blood gamification. At the sessions core though was EarthPercent, the charity Eno founded in April 2021.

“It’s new way of trying to address the climate challenge,” Brian Eno said. “To get people involved in the music business, at all levels, to give a very small percentage of their income, which we distribute to the most impactful organisations dealing with climate change.”

“Of course the earth should be a co-writer,” Jacob Collier, one of the first contributors to the charity, added. “Everyone is desperate to do something to help.”

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