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Guest Blog by Graham Brown: ‘What Good Looks Like: Highlights from The Sustainable Event Summit #SES23’

In this guest blog, Graham Brown, Vision: 2025 Steering Group Member and host of the Sustainable Event Summit #SES23, shares highlights from the day including celebrating the summit sponsors and speakers that made the day possible.

“SES 23 welcomed over 250 outdoor event professionals for a day of insightful presentations and discussions at The Showman’s Show, Oct 18th, 2023.

Vision 2025 presented an ambitious day, with morning workshops and networking lunch, followed by a fast-flowing series of panels, supported by Festival Republic, and headline sponsors Arena Group, G L Events, LS Events, Pearce Hire, Sunbelt and T & L Marquees.

The expanded Vision 2025 Sustainable Event Summit focused on the hope for a better future, through the positive progress being made by organisers from a wide array of events implementing effective carbon reduction practices.

Vision 2025 Chair Chris Johnson opened proceedings and set the scene for the morning workshops, with Vision 2025 members and invited guests diving into a range of topics, highlighting the challenges and opportunities being faced.  

Panels were filmed by students, from boomsatsuma, and we will be releasing them as free-to-access webinars in the coming months.

Earth Percent’s Executive Director, Cathy Runciman opened with a visionary keynote, highlighting the actions and advocacy for change from artists to event organisers. Panels covered the pioneering steps to introduce measurement and labelling at events for food sustainability; the links between climate justice, environmental and social activism; cultural engagement through effective communications, decarbonising energy looking into developments with batteries, closing with a ‘Best of Summer’ review, which a shone a light on successes from the year’s festivals, all signposting ways for future improvements.

Our first Webinar features the launch of the new Environmental Chapter for The Purple Guide by Steve Heap (EIF) and Chris Johnson (Vision 2025) marked a significant development, positioning event sustainability centrally in the national events landscape, signposting “what good looks like”.

Chris Johnson (Vision: 2025 Chair) and Steve Heap (Event Industry Forum Chair) took to the stage, to announce that The Purple Guide’s Chapter has now been written and will become the newest additional to the events industry guidance.

Steve Heap explained:

“There is a collective voice within our industry that agrees action must be taken, which is why it felt right for the EIF to commission Vision: 2025 to coordinate the writing of this new chapter, to provide consistent, national guidance to benchmark sustainable best practice.

“Chris has ensured industry wide consultation spanning commercial boundaries and included people from a range of other fantastic organisations doing some amazing work together for the common good. Drawing on information from far and wide means this chapter reflects the collective acceptance and commitment towards the event industry minimising our negative impact on the environment. We must act to leave a World suitable for the next generation to run festivals and outdoor events of the future.”

The Purple Guide Environmental Sustainability Chapter is a concise overview, signposting the areas of best practice for Outdoor events to enable the industry to assess national environmental standards by local authorities, with aim of reaching Net Zero by 2030.

The contents of The Purple Guide chapter will be live to subscribers of the Purple Guide in the coming weeks, with links to relevant guidance, legislation, and resources. The Chapter covers:

1. Introduction

2. Key Terms

3. Governance and Strategy

4. Impact Areas: Energy / Materials & waste / Travel & transport / Food & drink / Water

 5. Communications

6. Partners & Sponsors

The best practices championed in The Purple Guide have become accepted as industry standard for organisers, local authorities and suppliers, to comply with legislation and create safe events, along with being acknowledged to save lives.

It is hoped the guidance across the Environmental Sustainability Chapter will similarly become a standardised part of everyone’s event plans and drive a shift to create a more environmentally sustainable events sector.

Characterising the positive progress being made at SES 23, The Green Supplier and Innovation Awards took place mid-afternoon.  Following inspiring presentations by Instagrid, Reclaim Audio and Waste Bailing Machines, the winner was voted for by the audience. Johnny Lance (Showman’s organiser) presented Dan Thomas (Waste Bailing Machines) for their new self-contained RPU unit, trialled at GreenMan Festival where it made significant CO2E reductions, which could benefit all Green Field events.

Guests finished their afternoon with some networking and enjoyed a drink, thanks to Purity Ales and Arrowtown. Hopefully, all left the marquee inspired and empowered to act to reduce carbon impacts in 2024.

Photo Credit: Graham Brown at SES 23 by Georgia Brown

This blog originally appeared in our November 2023 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up to receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox.