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ESNS sustainability coordinator and former festival producer Rob van Wegen calls on Europe’s myriad sustainability bodies to collaborate.

Sustainability is a hot topic in the music industry. We talk a lot, but do we put our money where our mouth is? At ESNS, we think we do. But for sustainable change, European collaboration is paramount. Scientific reports are saying time is running short.

ESNS traditionally addresses the topic of sustainability at the annual music conference. I’m grateful for all the knowledge that was shared at ESNS Conference and the questions that were being addressed. At the same time we work to reduce our impact by eliminating our use of fossil fuels in energy and travel demands in Groningen, we reduce the impact of our food and beverages, and supporting artists in experiencing more sustainable travel with our Green Tour Support programme. But building a sustainable music industry is about more than ESNS.

We keep searching for possibilities to take sustainability in our sector to the next level, whether this is within the Green Deal Circular Festivals programme supporting initiatives like the European Green Festival Roadmap 2030, or writing our own Roadmap Canvas Tool. The real joy comes when you can provide an answer to the question that is being asked and offer support. We expect more strict regulations and requirements to follow, then the urgency catches up with the importance of making our sector more sustainable. We need to be ready to offer support and ask for help if needed.

“Let us all strive to show the possible future of our sector.”

To be ready to help each other, we need to ask ourselves the following: what action is needed to accomplish this goal? What support do we have to give, and what do we lack in knowledge? It often still feels that the innovating festivals and early adopters work proactively on sustainability, but what about the early majority of this big industry? Do we feel we are becoming future-proof fast enough? And what are the barriers that are being faced? How do we provide more equal opportunities for our industry all over Europe and the capacity of organisations to act on the matter? At the same time, how do we deal with the changes that have already occurred, like the weather changes we saw last summer?

To work on these questions, we brought together several framework organisations from Europe to collaborate. All working on sustainability in the live music industry, we focused on how we can activate the whole live music industry in this common goal.

During the last edition of ESNS, in January, we invited the industry into the conversation, as part of the Music Dialogue programme under the Music Moves Europe initiative. In the dialogue moderated by Linnéa Elisabeth Vågen Svensson, Bob van Oort from Center for International Climate Research and Tim van Hattum from the Wageningen University & Research presented the urgency to act and adapt. This is why we launched the Sustainability Desk. A place where the live music sector can let their voices be heard on how to improve our sector on sustainability.

Let us all strive to show the possible future of our sector. Join in, so we can become future-proof and support each other, while being inspired with new possibilities that this challenge brings us.

While good things happen to make the music industry more sustainable, there are some important steps to take, and those need to be taken together.