Recap: Festival Sustainability Lab 2023

At the end of 2022, Festival Sustainability Lab emerged as a project of industry transformation from different angles. Within the heart of this EU-co-funded project lay three digital labs organized by LiveGreen, One Resilient Earth, and Innofest. Throughout the project’s endeavors over the past year, it drew together a tapestry of diverse minds and talents dedicated to reshaping the festival industry.

Now, it’s time to reflect on the project’s impact: in this article, the voices behind each digital lab unveil their achievements and aspirations, offering a glimpse into their journeys and the collective strides made as part of Festival Sustainability Lab. We spoke to Alina Minkova from LiveGreen, Linda Vermaat from Innofest, Laureline Simon from One Resilient Earth and Lyke Poortvliet from Green Events.

Seeds of Change: Reflecting on Challenges, Lessons Learned and Triumphs

In the wake of Festival Sustainability Lab 2023, we reflect with fondness on the sense of community fostered across the project – even if it took place almost entirely in the digital realm. Alina from LiveGreen expressed it this way: “From our Masterclass, especially the core group, emerged a close-knit community. The sessions were a haven for freelancers and small organizations, where people often end op navigating sustainability solo. So in a way, these passionate individuals found not just expertise but a supportive tribe. Our connections even went beyond the virtual realm – meeting up with some of our participants at ADE Green was an unexpected, fantastic experience. For LiveGreen, this project was a treasure trove of resources and a chance to collaborate internationally. It’s been a stepping stone in forging partnerships across Europe. It was an honor and a hopeful collaboration, and we plan to stay connected with this community.” 

One of the cornerstones of Innofest’s Workshop for start-ups was nurturing entrepreneurial talent. Linda Vermaat: “Selecting and supporting entrepreneurs across Europe was a highlight for me. Witnessing their growth and the interest in their work was heartwarming.” As a result of Festival Sustainability Lab, Innofest’s vision now extends beyond borders, and is hopeful for continued collaborations that steer the festival industry toward sustainability and social change.

Reflecting on the project’s collective impact, especially the coaching sessions turned out to initiate vital conversations within the participating organizations, fostering an understanding of the value of sustainability discussions – but more importantly, concrete outcomes like an organization’s climate justice strategy, adapted stage designs, start-ups testing their inventions, or conversations within different festival organization about topics like climate justice and decolonization. 

Overall, starting climate resilience discussions in the events industry was one of the triumphs of this project – while some, especially pioneering, organizations might be familiar with the topic, festivals are generally not very knowledgeable about climate resilience. Laureline’s passion for introducing climate resilience and related concepts in the events industry was inspiring to witness, even within the Festival Sustainability Lab team. Lyke from Green Events recounts: “I’m very happy that we were able to bring in the climate resilience topic in the events industry through this project, it’s very novel in this sector. Having these discussions with creatives and dedicated individuals working in festival organizations was a beautiful outcome. I want to note here that while participants in our labs were diverse, it was a challenge to reach the right people – not only those familiar with sustainability issues, but also those who are kind of new to the topic.” Especially with topics like climate resilience, which are so important yet not well-known,  it’s essential to engage a broad array of organizations. 

The project’s impact on individuals and organizations emphasizes the power of reflection and coaching. Laureline reflects: “We got overwhelmingly positive feedback about our learning journey, with the biggest compliments being that participants were challenged to reflect throughout the course and that it really changed their perspective. The ensuing coaching sessions allowed for a deeper understanding of the topic. This worked so well, especially in getting the knowledge into these organizations and resulting in concrete outcomes. This was so inspiring, and we would really like to continue with more learning and team coaching to groups in the future.” Her reflections highlight the transformative potential of introspection within the festival landscape: a changed perspective and new insights most often lead to alternative ways of doing things.

Festival Sustainability Lab remains hopeful – we’re already yearning for future projects that emphasize climate resilience and collaboration.

Looking Ahead: The Continued Journey of Festival Sustainability Lab

Looking toward the horizon, the collective vision converges on storytelling that transcends practicality. We’re excited about a new project in the works — combining storytelling and regenerative dishes, and raising awareness about regenerative farming. The next project’s aspiration to expand on these topics embodies Festival Sustainability Lab‘s continued commitment to holistic sustainability practices and education. Each lesson learned, every obstacle overcome, propels this industry closer to a future where festivals resonate with the melodies of sustainability. 

In 2024, Festival Sustainability Lab marches onward, illuminating the path towards a more sustainable, resilient, and inspiring future for cultural festivals across Europe. A new chapter beckons, one that embraces regenerative dishes and amplifies awareness about regenerative farming. More details about our new project follows soon, so stay tuned by subscribing to our newsletter.

Driving environmental & social change in the event industry