International and National Events

Over the years, many events have adopted sustainable practices, in this discussion, an examination of some of these practices will help in gaining an understanding of what sustainable events consist of on an international and national scale.

The 2008 ‘Green Olympics’

Environmental concerns and issues of sustainability require increasing attention and resonance amongst governments and societies worldwide.  Sporting events such as the Olympic games have been a part of this trend and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing captured headlines for their greening Initiatives (Mol, 2010). During the planning and preparation of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, there was awareness of poor air quality in the region of the event, afforestation was focused on to properly host the event. Beijing built a 60-kilometer road route out to the rowing and canoeing venues, lined with newly planted trees to improve the air quality within the region (Masterman, 2014). As a result, the Beijing Olympics became known as the ‘Green Olympics’. 

The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa

Mega events were originated during times of nation and empire building. Mega events such as the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup, have pre and post event economic, social and environmental impacts and effects (Roche, 2003). For the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the majority of event attendees arrived by air, to a country with poor internal public transport infrastructure and a carbon intensive and coal reliant economy (Death, 2011). The challenge for South Africa was to turn the event ‘green’. However, the country managed to develop a greening program.

According to the table above, the Green Goal programmes varied between host cities due to specific requirements, some noteworthy and innovative projects were applied during the process however. Waste management and recycling, biodiversity protection, urban regeneration, public transport upgrades and energy efficiency measure at the stadiums were implemented. As a result of South Africa’s efforts to implement sustainable practices, the economy and society was rewarded when event attendees changed their perception of the country. For example, the country as a leisure destination increased by 9% after the event (Humphreys, 2010).

Glastonbury Festival

Is the UK’s largest music festival with more than 200,000 people attending each year. Glastonbury Festival offers its local community free tickets to the festival as a sign of goodwill for their tolerance to the disruptions caused during the Festival Operations (Digital, 2019). Below are some of the practices Glastonbury Festival take on to keep their event more sustainable.

  • At Glastonbury Festival, Green Peace, WaterAid and Oxfam are the main charitable causes for the event. These NGOs unite with the common goal of keeping the planet safe, fair and more sustainable for future generations.
  • Traders are awarded the ‘Green Trader Award’ during the event, by judging vendors on a variety of topics such as, waste management through product sourcing. The award varies in levels such as, Bronze, Silver and Gold awards (Gearon, 2018).
  • The ‘Old Railway Track’ divides the festival in two. Its purpose is to act as a natural barrier. Along this road, signage is created by artists promoting an environmental theme.
  • In 2010, the farm where the festival is held invested in privately owned solar arrays that provides power for the festival during its operational period.
  • Kinetic energy is used to provide electricity for charging phones. The concept was first introduced by a phone sponsor where kinetic energy phone chargers are strapped onto people arms, when dancing for example, their movements created energy that charged their mobile phones (Newsroom, 2016).
  • To reduce congestion, Glastonbury Festival commit a significant amount of their tickets bundled with coach and train travel. Also, bicycle parking spots are made available on site.
  • The ‘Green Clean’ product range was developed for an environmentally friendly cleaning product that meets the UK government’s requirements for public hygiene and cleaning standards.
  • Glastonbury Festival use areca palm leaf plate products manufactured by Aspana using fallen palm leaves.
  • The ‘Don’t Take The Piss’ campaign is aimed at the event attendees with the purpose of discouraging people from urinating on the ground bushes and in the streams. Also, the streams are tested up to three times a day to ensure that no damage has been done. Due to the incompliance of some festival attendees, key spots have been identified for renegade urinating and have been lit up, placed with installations and assigned with signage to prevent trespassing. Additionally, the ‘Green Police’ patrol the area to arrest anyone found to be not complying with the festival policies.

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6 thoughts on “International and National Events

    1. Thank you for your comment. Glastonbury festival is a great example of an event that is implementing sustainable practices and has set trends amongst events of a similar scale such as Coachella. To influence more events to follow some of these practices in my opinion, they must become a norm. To elaborate further, A worldwide trend of sustainable events is much needed to encourage more event organisers to follow. However, this starts with event attendees, if the majority of event attendees fully understand the negative impacts and care, then I believe more event organisers will be tempted to also care. So to answer your question, I would put in place a quality sustainable events promotional campaign that can be educational and enlightening because it is my belief that not all people are fully aware of these matters.

  1. When there is an international event it seems that the host puts some significant effort to maintain greenery and the environmental sustainability of the venues and their surroundings. How likely is that these efforts are maintained for the local community after an event?

    1. Thats a very interesting question thank you Tarek. One can assume that the efforts to find a purpose for these developments is high, however, there are many instances where there was poor maintenance that resulted in negative environmental issues. For example, for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, many newly built venues were not used after the event period ended and that resulted in “White Elephants”. Many newly built stadiums were abandoned and could not be reused because their expenses were too high for tax payers, and due to their poor maintenance and abandonment they were emitting pollutants. On the other hand, in the period of the 2010 South Africa FIFA world cup, the country upgraded many of their infrastructural developments including their railways specifically for the event due to some of their existing ones at the time being unsustainable to the environment. To this day, these railways are being used and are being further improved. South Africa has been considered to have one of the best rail infrastructures in Africa, this was kick-started from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The likelyness in my opinion would depend on whether further purpose can be found. Hope this answers your question.

  2. You’ve mentioned different examples of sustainable events & nonsustaible events. You’ve also talked about carbon offsetting of events.

    My question is do you think it’s smart business or ethical to just do carbon offsetting even though Theresa irreversible damage to the environment done by mega events?

    1. Thank you for reading the article Alaa, I do not think its smart business or ethical to just do carbon offsetting, I do understand though, that in some countries it is very important for them to balance their carbon footprint. For South Africa, a carbon offsetting system was necessary and to this day they are trying to become more carbon neutral and “Greener”. I agree with you though that mega events can have a large negative impact on the environment and also social and economic factors nonetheless. Maybe we would be better off by not having so many mega events throughout the year and then there would be less damage done to the environment.

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