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Green Leader Q&A #16: Megan Best, Native Events and Body&Soul Festival

Megan Best has spent the last decade at the helm of the Body&Soul Festival, the sustainability forerunner in Ireland’s festival scene. In 2017, she co-founded Native Events with the aim of accelerating sustainable event production in Ireland. Having recently completed an MSc in environmental sustainability and a Postgrad in Climate Entrepreneurship, she is a passionate leader who works with a wide range of collaborators and creatives in circularity, festival production and sustainability solutions. Here Megan takes our Industry Green Leader Q&A sharing her sustainability challenges, highlights and inspiration:

1. What is the proudest sustainability achievement or moment of your career?

Getting Recommendation 10, for ‘sector-wide environmental action training’, into the Arts&Culture Recovery Taskforce Report – seeing the challenges that will follow the COVID crisis recognised at such a high level was a winning moment.

2.  What was your worst ever sustainability-related decision, project or initiative and why?

The first year we banned single-use-plastic at the festival, we used glass for soft drinks in all our bars instead, and we ended up with really difficult logistics and broken glass everywhere!

3.  What are you (or were you) excited about implementing this year?

We’re working with the European Recycling Platform in our drive towards being a circular festival, so we’re excited about loads of fun and educational initiatives coming out of this partnership.

4.  Which environmental issue do you most care about?

Societal and cultural transformation.

5.  What sustainable change have you made in your personal life that you are most proud of?

I’ve been getting more vocal over recent years, pushing for change through the means of creative conversation. I’m naturally quite shy so embracing public speaking was a big change for me.

6.  What do you read to stay in touch with green issues?

Anthropocene Magazine, Ecologist.

 7.  What is the most memorable live performance in your life?

Leftfield at Secret Garden Party in 2011 – they did a mash up of Leftism and Rhythm and Stealth. It was filthy. I’ve never heard anything like it, before or since.

8.  Was there a moment you committed to taking action on climate change?

Learning about the destruction of the amazon in secondary school. I told my parents when I got home that day that I was ditching school, and heading to South America to stand up to the loggers…. I didn’t do it (and gave my folks a fright I think), but the seed was planted that day.

9.  What are the most important issues to tackle at your event?

Getting everyone on board – the changes that are coming are huge, everyone needs to truly embrace the transition.

10. What do you think is the most significant challenge for the events industry becoming more sustainable?

In Ireland its audience travel – our public transport system is severely lacking and our outdoor events are held in (beautiful) very remote locations. Getting people out of private cars will be tricky.

11. Can you share something sustainable about/from another artists or event or company that inspired you to make a change?

The compost loos at Boom Festival – an incredible operation that they’ve invested heavily in. They’ve nailed it.

12. What is the secret to your sustainable success?

Always being keen to learn.

13. Tell us something you feel positive about right now that relates to the environment

There’s a growing awareness and appetite for nature-based solutions, which can tackle carbon emissions, biodiversity loss and a reconnection with local ecosystems all in one. Multifaceted solutions exist for our complex problems – our natural world can rebalance, if we let her.

14. Tell us a book, film or recent article you feel others should watch/read and why about positive change?

The recent Rethinking Climate Change Report by think tank RethinkX is the clearest voice in the climate change conversation, and the best-defined pathway out of the mess we’re in, that I’ve come across in a long time. Read it.

15. Can you give people new to sustainability in events a top tip?

Involve everyone. It’s only through collective action that we will succeed.

16. What is the favourite festival moment of your career?

Chatting onstage to Dr Francis Fahy in the Living Lab activation at Body&Soul in 2018, she pointed out that behaviour change isn’t about switching to a hybrid or an electric car, it’s actually about asking, ‘Do I need a car?’

17. What habit or practice has helped you most in your personal journey in life?

I’ve started getting up really early to study, read and develop projects in that quiet time of the day before anyone else is awake. It’s a gift.

18. Is there anything new or exciting you are planning or changing for the future that you can tell us about? Even a hint!

We’re working on a big project that will join the dots of the Irish events ecosystem in a concerted effort – a regenerative event commons – this will help us move towards a collective vision of circularity, regeneration and cultural transformation. 

19. Will we save the world?

We don’t need to save her we just need to awaken her, and she’s already here, inside each and every one of us.

20. What would your sustainable super-power be?

Communicating with fungi!

Follow Megan on Linkedin

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This Q&A originally appeared in our September 2021 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up to receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox using the form below.