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Green Events Code of Practice Pilot Launched

Vision: 2025 and Julie’s Bicycle have launched a 12-month pilot with ten local authorities including Manchester, Bristol and Reading, to test how the Green Events Code of Practice (GECOP) can be used to embed sustainability within local authority processes. The project is co-funded by Arts Council England and participating local authorities.

GECOP has been developed as a collaboration between the outdoor events industry, local authorities and other stakeholders, to create a clear and consistent understanding and approach to sustainable best practice for the sector, and was launched last year as a working draft with the support of music industry body LIVE. Earlier this year, a first concrete step was taken by publishing the Environmental Sustainability chapter of the Purple Guide, based on the Green Events Code of Practice.

Local authorities are committed to the government net zero targets, with many declaring a Climate Emergency, and  beginning to develop policy and expectations relating to live events. It was recognised that there is a lack of national consistency or guidance about how this can be best achieved. GECOP aims to achieve consistency with a set of clear, open and  accessible  best practices, the assessment of which is now being tested using a new adaptive framework and tool, the Donut Advisory Tool for Events (D.A.T.E). The DATE Tool will enable local authorities to more easily collect and understand environmental data from events, helping to assess practices and performance, and encourage environmental action.

Participating local authorities for the pilot project gathered this month at a kick-off meeting in Birmingham.  The session explored the various ‘use cases’ for the environmental requirements set out in GECOP, including event licences, site permissions, policies and targets, among others. The group considered the practicalities of how the pilot will run and how success of embedding GECOP into existing processes will ultimately be evaluated.

Councillor John Hacking, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Events, said:

“We are proud to be part of this pilot project to further our ongoing efforts to push for sustainable events in Manchester and beyond. The Green Event Code of Practice has been designed with event organisers in mind, as its consistency of approach and free-to-use tools will support them in delivering successful and truly sustainable events that benefit our city.”

Local authorities will use the DATE tool to develop assessments covering seven core themes around (i) Governance (ii) Energy (iii) Travel & Transportation (iv) Food & Drink (v) Materials & Waste (vi) Water (vii) Positive Influence. The outcome will be a resource to upskill event organisers and local authority teams of all sizes and experience, across the UK, to enable them to measure and achieve their environmental targets.

Richard Phillips, Julie’s Bicycle Climate Change Specialist for the music sector and GECOP Pilot Project Manager comments:

“This project will future proof local authorities and the outdoor events sector, and potentially create a blueprint for legislation around environmental sustainability that works for the events, local authorities and the environment.”

A key collaborator is Andrew Lansley, former Council Event Officer, at Cheltenham Festivals, who has developed the DATE Tool, he states:

“With many frameworks, voluntary certifications, approaches to sustainability, and a lack of legislation, it is important that all stakeholders clearly understand what is good and bad in terms of environmental performance, and have the ability to make assessments. The DATE tool has been developed in line with GECOP, the Attitude is Everything Accessibility Charter and common local authority approaches to community impact assessment. This free-to-use tool will enable easy assessment across the sector.” 

GECOP focuses on seven key areas where positive environmental change can be achieved. Its overall aim is to commit to a minimum of 50% reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 including: (i) 50% reduction in fossil fuel consumption at live events by 2025 (ii) reduction of at least 30% in meat & dairy consumption onsite by 2030 (iii) eliminate single use plastic by 2025. 

In addition to the core project funding from the participating local authorities and Arts Council England, ongoing funding by EarthPercent and Event Industry Forum (EIF) has supported development of the code. Festival Republic, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and Superstruct have also supported through pioneer funds for industry consultations.

Pictured:The Pilot Meeting, Birmingham, Jan 2023 with Ben Plummer (Colchester), Stefan Edwards & Harriet Shannon (Bristol), Kate Bishop & Robert Snart (Leicester), Helen Harland & Victoria Greer (Manchester), Ted Leggett (Norwich), Martin Wilson (West Northants), Richard Phillips (Julie’s Bicycle) and Chris Johnson (Vision 2025). Also attending but not in pic: Andrew Lansley (Cheltenham Festivals) Lucy Daniels (Reading) and Catherine Lewis (Reading).

This news originally appeared in our January 2024 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up to receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox.