From Insights to Action: Lessons from LiveGreen’s Festival Sustainability Lab

Festival Sustainability Lab’s Masterclass curated by LiveGreen in Spring 2023 was an immersive journey delving into various aspects of sustainability within the events industry. Guided by like-minded individuals passionate about making the festival industry more inclusive and sustainable, the Masterclass and accompanying online workshops provided a comprehensive platform for participants to explore, learn, and engage with industry experts.

There is good news for everyone who missed the opportunity to join the program earlier this year: all materials are now available for free on LiveGreen’s Masterclass Platform! In this article, Alina from LiveGreen guides you through the four different modules and shares input from previous participants.

Overall takeaways of the Masterclass

In the realm of sustainability, the journey is often a revelation in itself. Alina from LiveGreen shares invaluable insights and pivotal learnings gleaned from their recent Masterclass in Sustainability. In essence, these insights underscore the multifaceted nature of sustainability, the strength found in communal unity, and the urgency to capitalize on readily available resources to instigate tangible change.

1. Keep embracing the complexity of sustainability

Alina emphasizes the perpetual learning curve within sustainability. “Even if event professionals know the basics of sustainability, the truth is that more often than not, we are still missing out on some important perspective. Some issues are not talked about as often as recycling or energy. In the Masterclass, we therefore also address alcohol culture and hyper-sexualised spaces”. A common struggle for event sustainability practitioners is to keep the whole picture in mind while focusing their work on specific issues. A tip from Alina is to embrace this complexity and think holistically. And plan accordingly, step-by-step: “After all, we can’t do it all at once”.

2. Community is key

A central revelation was the power of a unified community. The Masterclass served as a nexus for practitioners to exchange ideas, share experiences, and foster a sense of belonging. Alina emphasized the significance of this unity within an otherwise isolated landscape, stating, “The harsh reality of an industry as challenging as events is that most of us ‘do sustainability’ on our own initiative with not much, if any, help from teammates. It is increasingly valuable for sustainability practitioners to gather together as a community.”

3. Leverage available resources and get to work

Time to draw attention to the wealth of resources available: after all, the Masterclass is only one example of how much support and knowledge is already offered – most often at absolutely no charge – for the event professionals. Alina concludes:

“To be honest, there is no excuse left to not try and do at least something.”

“You don’t have to become an industry-leader in sustainability, but if everyone does one extra step, and asks one extra question or plants one extra seed in the heads of our visitors, colleagues, suppliers, and financiers – the demand and pressure are going to tip over and speed up the much-needed transformation.”

A closer look at the Masterclass

LiveGreen’s online workshops showcased the power of collective learning and collaboration. The sessions have come to a close, but you can still join the ongoing Masterclass journey at LiveGreen, where the opportunity to engage, learn, and drive sustainable change persists. Read on for more information and input from previous participants and industry experts about each of the Masterclass’ five modules.

Completing the modules can take anywhere between 30 minutes and five hours, depending on how much of the additional resources you will study.

Module 1 – Environmental Sustainability

How can events minimize their environmental footprint while maximizing impact?

Which innovative solutions can festivals adopt to champion renewable energy and sustainable practices?

The first module of the Masterclass focuses on urgent issues like climate change and environmental impacts within the events industry with key topics like renewable energy, waste management, and sustainable consumption. Participants get familiar with working towards analyzing negative footprints, exploring root causes, and committing to implementing sustainable solutions, guided by guest speakers like Laura Day and Simon Hartkopp.

“We want it to be better for the ecology of earth for Burning Man to exist than not to.” – Laura Day, The Burning Man Project

Module 2 – Social Sustainability

How can festivals become inclusive spaces, ensuring diversity and safety for all attendees?

What strategies can events employ to challenge societal norms and foster an environment free from discrimination?

Module 2 addresses crucial yet less discussed themes surrounding social sustainability. Distinguished speakers like Sara Wiggberg and Dr. Hannah Bows navigate topics of diversity, inclusion, safety, and challenging harmful norms. This module will help you reflect on inclusivity, brainstorm improvements, and strategize ways to create a more inclusive festival society.

“Festivals are sold on the basis that they offer an escape from the norms of society. And part of that involves this sort of hyper sexualised space.” – Dr. Hannah Bows, Durham University

Module 3 – Sustainability Communication

How can event organizers authentically communicate sustainability efforts without falling into the trap of greenwashing?

What creative methods can festivals use to inspire positive action and amplify their sustainability messages?

This module emphasizes effective sustainability communication without compromising credibility. Jakob Trollbäck and Gustav Martner share their insights on impactful messaging – and avoiding greenwashing. This model helps to explore communication channels to influence positive action and elevate crucial issues within your events.

“The young fans see through greenwashing. You gotta lead, you gotta do it first or your fans will call bullsh*t on you.” – Tanner Watt, Reverb

Module 4 – Innovation and Long-term Sustainability

In what ways can the events industry innovate for long-term sustainability while staying aligned with evolving trends?

How can event leaders leverage digital platforms and partnerships to drive sustainable change?

The final module looks at strategic innovations, business opportunities, and long-term sustainability in the events industry. Speakers like Per Olsson and Linda Vermaat highlight partnerships, social innovation, and adapting to industry trends. Learn how to engage in sustainable leadership and leverage your digital platforms for positive change.

“We are all in the same boat. We’re all together. We are all in the same industry and it’s actually by coming together that we can address this crisis.” – Patricia Yagüe, Live Nation

Thoughts from previous participants

“It feels reinvigorating to be looking into the future together! I really look forwards to keep in touch and see our projects growing into sustainability. We will be stronger and can work further if we stay together on our goals!”

“Today was interesting and inspiring, and I’m already looking forward to dive deeper into the materials. It’s exciting to be part of this community and share ideas and knowledge with each other.”

“What a great session today. It’s nice to hear everyone is willing to make changes and to hear which challenges everyone is facing. We are motivated to make changes after today, we know more about our own challenges now.”

“I was glad it was interactive and we learned from each other. It was nice to go into details with some of the ideas and to have the tools to brainstorm together.” 

Inspired to join?

Experience the ongoing impact of the Masterclass! Visit LiveGreen’s Platform to sign up and access the invaluable resources and learning opportunities, contributing to a sustainable future for event professionals worldwide.

Driving environmental & social change in the event industry