Abena Poku-Awuah is a sustainable events producer and consultant and the founder of Legacy, a sustainable events agency, which was set set up in 2016 to help companies and event professionals organise events that are better for the environment through training, workshops, audits and bespoke advice.
Abena is also part of the Leadership Team at The Sustainable Event Alliance. Here she takes our 20 Industry Leader questions:
1. What is the proudest sustainability achievement or moment of your career?
Completing the largest sustainability housing refurbishment in the country.
2. What was your worst ever sustainability-related decision, project or initiative and why?
I used a venue for a conference that was called the Green Centre, thinking it would be sustainable. It wasn’t. A low point was when they served biscuits individually wrapped in plastic. Now I do more research.
3. What are you (or were you) excited about implementing this year/in the future?
I can’t wait to launch the Legacy Events online marketplace, to help anyone organise an event using sustainable suppliers.
4. Which environmental issue do you most care about?
The Climate Emergency
5. What sustainable change have made in your personal life that you are most proud of?
I got rid of my car
6. What do you read to stay in touch with green issues?
7. What is the most memorable live performance in your life?
I was lucky enough to attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans once and be invited to a private gig at Kermit Ruffin’s jazz club, with ad-hoc performances from his friends and family. Kermit co-founded the Rebirth Brass Band and was a character on the Treme TV series. The quality of the music and the atmosphere were incredible.
8. Was there a moment you committed to taking action on climate change? Can you share it?
I can’t remember a particular moment. I’ve been working in sustainability for my entire 15-year career.
9. What is most important issue to tackle at your event(s)?
Using materials efficiently.
10. What do you think is the most significant challenge for the events industry becoming more sustainable?
Organising safe and sustainable events in a post COVID-19 world.
11. Can you share something sustainable about/from another artists or event or company that inspired you to make a change?
LooWatt waterless toilets are brilliant for outdoor events.
12. What is the secret to your sustainable success?
Being honest and using data to confirm what has a real impact.
13.Tell us something you feel positive about right now that relates to the environment
Google says searches on “How to live a sustainable lifestyle” have increased by 4,550%.
14. Tell us a book, film or recent article you feel others should watch/read and why about positive change?
The Age of Stupid, by Spanner Films. It’s an oldie but a goodie.
15. Can you give people new to sustainability in events a top tip?
Focus – don’t try and tackle all sustainability issues at once.
16. What is the favourite festival moment of your career?
Blue Dot and hanging out at the Jodrell Bank Observatory.
17. What habit or practice has helped you most in your personal journey in life?
Taking time out to rest and recharge.
18. Is there anything new or exciting you are planning or changing for the future that you can tell us about? Even a hint!
Virtual events are inherently more sustainable because they involve less travel and fewer waste from venues. At the moment, they generally suck. We are working on a project to make virtual events better. We are hoping to reveal more shortly!
19. Will we save the world?
Of course. The question is when. If we leave it too late, there might not be much of the world that we love left to save.
20. What would your sustainable super-power be?
Zero carbon flights
Find out more about Legacy Events.
Read previous Industry Leaders: #3 with Doug Francisco, Director of Narrative at Boomtown Festival and creator of XR’s Red Rebel Brigade and #4 with Kaye Dunnings, Creative Director or Glastonbury’s world-renowed Shangri-La.
This Q&A originally appeared in our September 2020 newsletter. Sign up receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox using the form below.