Green Events & Innovations Conference 16 a Sell Out Success

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Photography by Chris Cooper/ ShotAway/ www.ShotAway.com/ #shotawaydotcom

The Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), the foremost conference for sustainable events, welcomed 400 delegates to the Royal Lancaster London for the event’s 16th edition on 27th February.

AGF CEO Claire O’Neill and Director Teresa Moore started the day’s proceedings by highlighting that we’re reaching critical mass structurally and culturally in which we must change the way our sector operates and that using our platform for communication has never been more important in a year of pivotal elections worldwide. This was followed by a packed agenda of inspirational innovators from the global live music, sports, and event sector, tackling critical sustainability topics with speakers who brought their knowledge, insight, and passion to the panels and conversations.

The first session of the day covered Extreme Weather Events, exploring the current situation with a presentation from climate scientist Professor Richard Betts from the Met Office and University of Exeter, who said, “We are seeing spring coming earlier and summers are hotter and winter is later and wetter, so thinking about the timing of events in the future should be taken into consideration,” with Safety & Security Consultant Alexandra von Samson adding, “We have to adapt to the situation as it’s not going to go away.”

The Sponsored by Oil and Gas session tackled sponsorship and greenwashing with Luke Howell (Hope Solutions) sustainability advisor to Coldplay and Glastonbury Festival stating that “Oil and gas companies are aware that the music industry has been struggling and are seeking to take advantage.”

The World’s First Carbon-Removed Gig – The 1975 @ at The O2 Arena with AEG’s John Langford and Sam Booth looked at AGF and carbon-removal experts CUR8’s pilot event – a game-changing step on the path to helping the global live events industry reach genuine net-zero. AEG’s Sam Booth stated that “there is a need to convince artists and bands to come on this journey with us and get on board with it and to open up conversations that wouldn’t normally be had.”

Popstars, sports personalities, and music industry moguls were in the spotlight in Bridging The Gap, Proud To Pay More with Julia Davies (Patriotic Millionaires UK) explaining how the event and entertainment industry is in a prime position to make a difference and stand up for a better future for us all.

The Quick-Fire Innovation Round saw unique and innovative sustainability ideas presented, including: ChefChain blockchain for food traceability, ReClaim Audio recycled speakers, FibreStrap biodegradable cable ties, Take The Jump innovative communication strategy to cut through behaviour change messages, and Fluctuations the transnational boat festival wandering European rivers, to mobilise on social, environmental, and citizenship topics.

Continuing to look at global affairs impacting the live sector Ellie Kinney (The Conflict and Environment Observatory) challenged the idea of the environment as a ‘silent victim of armed conflict in The Military Emissions Gap stating that ‘If the world’s militaries were a country it would have the fourth highest carbon footprint’ and in ‘Influencing Audiences Beyond the Festival’, Dr Teresa Moore and Green Gathering’s Em Weirdigan explored the influence of green festivals towards audiences beyond the event discussing research undertaken by The Green Gathering in association with A Greener Future with Em Weirdigan highlighting “40% people are there because they believe in our ethos and feel they’ve found something meaningful with us’.

The agenda also tackled the structures on which the live sector depends including artist contract clauses with a session hosted by Head of Sustainability for EMEA at Live Nation Patricia Yagüe (Live Nation) with LIVE Green Chair Carol Scott (TAIT), Tom Schroeder (Wasserman Music) and Ross Patel (Whole Entertainment /Music Managers Forum) in ‘Contracts for Climate’. In this essential discussion, Ross Patel said “Artists with significant leverage are starting to use their power to drive their own sustainable goals” with Tom Schroeder adding “What we need is not just Billie Eilish doing her thing, we need it to be accepted as part of the ecosystem and not to be the exception but the rule” and that “more efficient touring and scaled-down production, lead to a less carbon footprint and more income so everyone wins.’

This year’s research sessions included the launch of new toolkit ‘No Climate Action Without Us. How to include disabled people in live event sustainability’. A joint project with Attitude is Everything A Greener Future and Julie’s Bicycle with Farah Ahmed (Julie’s Bicycle) and Dr Teresa Moore (A Greener Future) presenting followed by a panel with Blaine Harrison (Mystery Jets), Tori Tsui (Climate Activist) and Harry Jones (Forwards Festival) hosted by Feimatta Conteh (Arts Council England). Three case studies from Forwards Festival, Green Man, and Shambala were also examined. In this powerful and thought-provoking session, Blaine Harrison said “Feeling connected to nature makes us feel more incentivised to fight to protect it”

It’s not possible to consider green events without considering the stage. ‘Greening The Stage’, hosted by John Robb (Louder Than War) with Carol Scott (TAIT), Pauline Bourdon (Team Love/Soliphilia) and Zarya Vrabcheva (STUFISH Entertainment Architects) discussed what they have in our toolbox today to design stages that mitigate the use of virgin materials, reduce emissions, and start working to the circular economy. Carol Scott stated “Solving the key fundamental problems is having more lead time. The biggest problem is the lack of decision-making at the front end”.

After a delicious climate-loving plant-based lunch including sliders courtesy of Devil’s Kitchen, Dale Vince (Ecotricity / Forest Green Rovers FC) took centre stage hosting two sessions, First Low Emission Festivals & Events’ highlighted that still more than 85% of festival energy in the UK was coming from generators and this needs to move to grid, battery, hybrid and other fuel mixes in the near future. Andy Hibberd (Ecotricity / Grid Faeries) highlighted “Without data you can’t make informed choices”. Second was ‘Avengers Assemble: Using Profile for Change’ with Sam Lee, Music Declares Emergency’s Fay Milton, and Louis V, in which Vince highlighted “this is the most important year of our lifetimes” in terms of elections, and called for the industry to get behind the #JustVote24 campaign.

AEME (Association of Event Management Educators) returned to GEI bringing together a panel of academics to discuss the demand for sustainability skills across the industry in Supporting sustainable employability skills’ for current and future generations of festival and events managers and Rapper, multi-instrumentalist and activist Louis VI joined GEI for the first time to give an inspiring keynote speech ‘Nature Ain’t A Luxury’ where asked the question “Why aren’t we defending the music of nature like we are defending our creative expression and songwriter splits?”

A series of thought provoking presentations also took place during the day including Sisyphean Or Herculean? The Task Ahead For Decarbonising Transport from Glenn Lyons (Mott McDonald/University of West England), ‘Chasing Waste Management Gremlins’ from Clive Philips (Greenbox Events Ltd) and ‘Carbon Impact Of Festivals: AGF Annual Report’ from Alex Fintoni (A Greener Future).

The highly anticipated ‘EarthPercent Hour’, was the finale of the day’s programme and featured a Keynote conversation with Brian Eno, hosted by EarthPercent’s executive director, Cathy Runciman with Brian, followed by Jarvis Cocker taking to the stage to present his “Biophobia”, which was both thought-provoking and entertaining and a huge treat for attendees.

The day rounded up with the International AGF Awards 2024 sponsored by the incredible SkyDiamond with 27 events, venues, and innovators from 12 countries as finalists with the The top accolade – the International Greener Festival Award 2024 – going to Belgium’s Paradise City, who also scooped the Greener Catering Award. Louis VI also gave an interactive performance engaging the crowd in

Said Dale Vince Founder of SkyDiamond: “Sky diamonds are made from the sky. It’s 21st century alchemy. We don’t have to give up the things we enjoy we just need to do them differently, and that’s what GEI and AGF is all about so this was a natural alignment, and well deserved by the winners.”

Full list of 2024 International AGF Award winners:
International Greener Festival Award – Paradise City, BE
Greener Transport Award – Rosendal Garden Party, SE
Circular Event Award – I Land Sound, EE
Community Action Award – Sonidos Líquidos, ES
Greener Catering Award – Paradise City, BE
Pied Piper Award – ØyaFestivalen, NO
Greener Power Award – Green Gathering, UK
Water & Sanitation Award – Boom, PT
Greener Innovations Award – 6 Degrees by Team Love & re:right design, UK

GEI was kindly supported by Ecotricity, TAIT, Instagrid, KB Event and The O2.

Adam Parry
Author: Adam Parry

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.

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