The Sustainable Future of Music Festivals: How can new policy instruments and voluntary guidance tools help music festivals become more sustainable?

University essay from Lunds universitet/Internationella miljöinstitutet

Author: Helen Ashdown; [2010]

Keywords: Earth and Environmental Sciences;

Abstract: Over the last decade the music festival sector grew enormously: in 2008 over a million festivalgoers gathered in the UK to share music and companionship. However in doing so musicfestivals generate large volumes of waste streams and consume large quantities of resources. Amusic festival of more than 40 000 people will produce in the order of 2000 tons of CO2e –with audience transportation and on site generators accounting for the two largest portions offestival emissions. Until very recently there has been no guidance offered to help manage these aspects and manyfestivals have started “to go it alone” and have created and started to use whatever systems areavailable to them in their respective countries. This has led to a sudden influx of managementtools and carbon calculators. With even more tools arriving on the market soon the world ofsustainable event management could get all too confusing. The aim of the research was to review policy tools and voluntary initiatives already on themarket whether under the umbrella term of event management or specifically tailored formusic festivals. Particular attention was given to ISO 20121 the first international standardtailored for sustainable event management currently under development and due forpublication in 2012. The effectiveness of the instruments at delivering sustainabledevelopment and reducing negative aspects for music festival production was determinedusing SWOT analysis. Therefore the main research question became:“Which voluntary guidance tools, aspects or concepts thereof, are best suited to help thecontinued improvement of sustainable production of music festivals?” One music festival, Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire, UK, was studied in detail as a casestudy to gain an insight of music festival logistics to understand how best to apply sustainableguidance tools. Due to the unusual human resource structures involved in music festivals – a small core teamoften less than 10 full time staff all year round which explodes to over thousands ofvolunteers to crew the main event – it was discovered management systems such as ISOwould likely struggle due to the lack of resources. The findings of the research pinpointed acombined approach of people based movements and campaigns coupled with scientificintegrity.

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