Having hosted the UN’s COP26 climate conference in November last year, the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) said it aims to achieve carbon net zero by 2030, in line with Glasgow’s commitment to do the same across the city. Ahead of a busy events schedule at the SEC, not least at its 14,300-capacity OVO Hydro arena, director of live entertainment Debbie McWilliams shares her views.

We will view every aspect of events here at the Scottish Events Campus through the lens of sustainability.

From ongoing projects to targets and objectives, our sustainability strategy has evolved to include every element of what we do as a team and as a venue, from waste and energy management to client and team engagement, procurement, and green travel.

The strategy’s publication has largely coincided with our hosting of COP26, the largest physical gathering to be held in the world in 2021 and recognised as the most important conversation of our century.

The event urgently addressed environmental change and resulted in the Glasgow Climate Pact, which will turn the 2020s into a decade of climate action and support.

COP26 brought sustainability and the environment sharply into focus and provided us with the chance to learn, adapt, and build new partnerships. It also provided the opportunity to test our strategies and demonstrate that we can create a truly green and sustainable environment at the SEC.

The event had the highest number of in-person delegates attending any COP in history, with 38,000 badged attendees, and was the largest and most complex conference ever staged in the UK in terms of delegate numbers and footprint.

From a buildings point of view, the event was certified to ISO20121 Sustainable Management System and, with that standard now established, we have a strong foundation upon which we can build our site and operations going forward.

At the event we were also among the primary signatories and a driving force behind the net zero carbon events pledge, which has been signed by over 100 parties, including venues and partners from across the events sector, creating a network where best practise and practical solutions can be shared across the industry.

We’re very proud that the UN expressed that COP26 was the best COP ever, of the highest quality and the most accessible.

We have a lot of exciting projects and initiatives in the pipeline to support our key targets. For example, one priority is the removal of single use plastic cups from live events. We also introduced digital ticketing when fans returned to in-person shows last year, reducing paper usage by removing the need to print tickets at home.

We are currently working with A Greener Festival towards achieving Greener Arena certification, demonstrating that carbon reduction and transition strategies are at the heart of our operations.

Our partners will play a key role in our sustainability journey and our naming partner, OVO Energy, has a shared passion and commitment to green and sustainable practices. OVO’s goal is to make zero carbon living a reality in everything we do, including attending events, and they will support us in strengthening our existing sustainability credentials and help fund newer initiatives to make the OVO Hydro as low impact as possible.

The coming year is a very exciting one for the OVO Hydro and we look forward to welcoming both artists and fans back to Scotland’s home of live entertainment.

As any artist takes to the stage at the OVO Hydro they pass a large clock carrying the message ‘time to meet the best fans in the world’.

That clock is always ticking and will help us countdown to building a truly sustainable future for live events.

This article was published in the latest edition of Access All Areas magazine  – subscribe for free here