Over the past 20 years, large scale events have become more and more popular and widespread leisure destinations. Large summer music festivals, exhibitions, cultural events, sports games etc. may attract several thousands of visitors, sometimes on one day or even one evening. Very often, the places where these events take place are not conceived to receive such large numbers of visitors. Therefore, these events can have a significant environmental impact.
The international “SMASH-EVENTS” project aimed at developing a standard for integrated environmental management for large events, such as cultural events, music festivals, exhibitions, etc. In particular, the project set out to add the aspect of mobility management to already existing practices in reducing the environmental impact of such events.
The impacts of large events on the environment are multiple:
- short term: noise, effects on air quality, other health effects
- long term: production of waste, energy consumption, lasting damage to surroundings and air quality.
The specific objectives of the project were to:
- decrease the short term negative impact of the event on the environment mainly by decreasing noise, nuisance and vehicle emissions;
- decrease the long term negative environmental impact by reducing vehicle emissions, production of waste, and the lasting impacts on the natural environment.
The following specific tools to enhance international co-operation were to be developed:
- a set of tools in the form of a manual that could be used for integrated environmental management, including mobility management, of several kinds of events;
- a proposal of an environmental audit scheme for large events. Demonstration projects were planned to take place in 4 countries: Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Italy.
The demonstration phase of the SMASH-Events project indicated that the integrated approach can have positive and quantifiable effects on the environmental impact of events. The most visible results were in the field of mobility and the reduction of CO2 emissions by vehicles. Waste reduction could also be demonstrated. One of the key methodology aspects of the project was to carry out test projects for different types of events in 4 different countries (Belgium, Germany, Austria and Italy). In all of these countries, the project has confirmed that an integrated environmental approach to mobility, waste, water, energy, noise management and nature protection can reduce significantly the negative environmental impact of events. The project team produced “guidelines for event organisers”. The manual gives an insight into the costs and benefits for all aspects of ecological event management: sustainable mobility for events; waste prevention and selection; and energy & water saving measures, soil protection. The general conclusion of the project was that the more the environment management costs are integrated in the overall management and planning of an event, the smaller the impact will be on the general budget and viability of the event. Some costs could be covered by specific sponsoring. The project also concluded that the most effective approach is one that is all inclusive (mix of measures). The long term impacts could not be measured. To aid the dissemination of the project's results, the beneficiary has also produced a well-designed website: www.smash-events.net This is published in English, German, Italian, French and Dutch and contains a number of documents including the project's guidelines for event organisers.