Event impacts and environmental sustainability

Authored by: Kirsten Holmes , Judith Mair

The Routledge Handbook of Events

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367236489
eBook ISBN: 9780429280993
Adobe ISBN:


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Sustainability is of global importance, and is becoming increasingly pressing, at least in part due to the increasing awareness and visibility of the impacts of climate change. Just like any other economic activity, the need to develop more sustainable processes and procedures applies to the sphere of events and festivals. The temporal nature of planned events, however, presents specific challenges in ensuring sustainability. One of the main issues for sustainability in events is that sustainability involves long-term planning, which for short-term and one-off events is difficult. The consideration of sustainability in the context of events is further complicated because of the wide range of event types and stakeholders involved. Planned events can take place in purpose-built state-of-of-the art venues or remote fields, and anywhere in between. Events can be one off or can repeat regularly (e.g. annually, biannually or at other intervals). Finally, they can be large-scale, multinational events or small, local festivals; they can be international conferences with thousands of delegates or small community sporting competitions. This chapter begins by providing an overview of what sustainability means in the context of planned events and festivals. Next, the chapter reviews the three pillars of the traditional triple-bottom-line approach to sustainability, typically used by researchers and event organisers: economic, social and environmental considerations. Following on from this section, we present a more contemporary holistic approach to sustainability, viewing the three pillars as part of an interconnected system. Lastly, we examine the longer-term, legacy outcomes of events and festivals.

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