Mobility Report Interview: Gwendolenn Sharp

Green Events and Innovations (GEI) Conference – London, March 6th

The GEI Conference is the annual flagship event of A Greener Festival, which is organized in collaboration with the International Live Music Conference. The conference featured numerous presentations and hosted debates on how to improve the carbon footprint of festivals and other cultural events. Gwendolenn Sharp represented the RBCM Network at the event. Gwen told us about her experiences during the conference.

What kind of green initiatives did you learn about? What was the most interesting thing you’ve learned?

Gwendolenn Sharp: ‘The most interesting speech I heard was a keynote from Bob Wilson, who has spent the last three decades running Greenpeace UK’s event team. Bob Wilson talked about some of his own experiences he’s had as a festival organiser and about his personal journey as an activist along with some of Greenpeace UK’s activities. He is a fascinating man with great storytelling skills. I think storytelling is a very nice way of reaching out to people especially in a top down format conference such as the GEI.’

Here you can watch Bob Wilson’s inspiring speech.

Gwendolenn Sharp: ‘The other amazing initiative I’ve heard of was the story of Toast Ale, which is an award-winning artisan-crafted beer made using surplus bread. It is an environmental charity to end food waste. The social entrepreneurs behind Toast Ale are reusing bread that went to waste in the UK to brew a special beer. I believe it is a great and very creative way of raising awareness to environmental issues especially considering that more than 40% of bread is wasted in the UK. Toast Ale has an open source recipe and they are encouraging other entrepreneurs to use their methodology.’

What do you think how can we take environmental responsibility as a network?

Gwendolenn Sharp: ‘I believe that cultural networks in general should be more environmentally responsible because we are travelling a lot as well as the audiences of the events we are organizing. Therefore, I think it is somehow my personal mission to start considering environmental issues as a network. Lately we have been raising awareness to our carbon footprint increasing by our travels. For example, during our January Meeting where the key topic was sustainability. And other than the discussions and sessions around the topic we calculated everyone’s carbon footprint who travelled to the meeting and in exchange we donated the money worth the damage caused to a social gardening initiative in Berlin.’

What are the future steps in the network to work towards environmental sustainability?

Gwendolenn Sharp: ‘I think we should start with small steps as we did during the Berlin meeting: selecting the House of Circular Economy as our location, using all recycled materials for the sessions, not buying any plastic and so on. These things are easy to implement, it is the matter of commitment. But if we are thinking about the bigger picture it would be very important to start gathering best practices, initiatives, experiences, and ideas what we have in the network, to start gathering data and sharing knowledge among each other concerning the topic. Also, I would be really happy if we could start a working group in the network which can discuss and define concrete principles and ideas concerning our responsibility.’

You can find more information about the conference here.