Event organisers remain committed to environmental action, with one in three saying their experience of 2020 has made environmental sustainability a higher priority. That’s according to the latest Green Survey by Vision: 2025, which questioned organisers’ priorities and sustainability plans for 2021.

This year’s survey revealed a trend towards more sustainable events in the wake of a year of COVID-19 cancellations, with 85 per cent more organisers looking to come back greener.

Despite holding no events due to the pandemic, event organisers are determined. One in three event organisers (37 per cent) say they will implement the same environmental measures in 2021 than were planned for this year, while 30 per cent will implement more ambitious plans.

While responses revealed positive aspirations, there are, however, widespread concerns about how the financial fallout from this year’s season will impact the industry’s ability to invest in environmental initiatives. There are also doubts whether longer-term shifts (like audiences being wary of public transport) will harm chances of progress, and how to plan for continued uncertainty.

With only a few years left to take decisive meaningful action on climate, the roadmap to halve industry emissions set out in the Show Must Go On Report, and the actions taken by organisers in 2021 remain vital.

The Vision: 2025 steering group is determined to support organisers through the Vision: 2025 knowledge hub in 2021 to encourage and enable reductions in real terms.

Headline findings from the survey include:

  • One in three event organisers say that their experience of this year means that environmental sustainability has become a higher priority, and for half says that there has been no change. A much smaller number (seven per cent) state that sustainability has become a lower priority.
  • For those implementing less ambitious sustainability plans, the main reasons are overwhelmingly a lack of budget and a lack of staff resource – though many are citing high levels of uncertainty.
  • The person who normally manages sustainability for their event has continued to work for three in four respondents, while one in four sustainability leads have not been working or furloughed.

Areas of focus for action

  • The top three sustainable priorities identified by event organisers are; tackling single use, aiming for zero waste and achieving net zero emissions, and there is encouraging news about reusable cups, with three quarters of events that already use them intending to continue in 2021.
  • All of the respondents stated that aiming for net zero emissions is important, however more than half (56 per cent) are not currently measuring their carbon footprint.
  • Understanding bioplastics is a challenge, with over half saying they are confused about this material.
  • Key drivers of learning and action continue to be case studies and industry events.

Image: Shambala