The GDCF Model for circular and climate neutral festivals

extract from the GDCF Model December 16, 2023

What does it mean to be a circular and climate neutral event? To answer this question, the participants of the international Green Deal Circular Festivals (GDCF) and experts, together defined what circularity and climate neutrality mean for the sector.

As a result, this model provides common definitions, ultimate goals and feasible targets which can be achieved already on a shorter term. By doing so, the model provides inspiration to festivals and other event organisers, and to other sectors, cities and regions, to shape their own step-by-step approach to become circular and climate neutral. Based on the experiences of festivals and based on new insights, the model may evolve along the way.

A definition for circular and climate neutral events
Circularity at this moment still is a ‘moving target’, and definitions, key figures and solutions are under continuous development. A ‘blueprint’ for circular and climate neutral festivals does not exist, leaving a big gap for the sector to implement the very general targets set by the government. To help festivals in their sustainable transformation, the model helps by providing a common perspective for what a circular and climate neutral event ultimately looks like, including definitions and possible intermediate targets.

Spot on the horizon for a sustainable sector
The model provides a clearly marked spot on the horizon for the sector, while keeping room for flexibility on how to get there. This flexibility is needed, considering the diversity in types of festivals, their specific local setting and legal conditions, their audience and supply chains, and to allow to anticipate on innovations. Also, festivals vary in the stage of circularity which they already may have achieved. By defining a joint end-goal which is clear for everyone, festivals are enabled in their step-by-step approach, to move towards circularity and climate neutrality. Therefore, this model provides a basis for festivals’ to set targets and priorities for their own sustainability plans and roadmaps. The model also helps as a conversation starter within festivals’ own organisations, and with suppliers, other stakeholders, and their audience.

A basis for coherent standards and conditions for the sector 
Local governments are increasingly trying to fill in the gap between the general long-term circular and climate ambitions, and the requirements for organising sustainable events. This leads to fragmentation of conditions being put in place for the sector. Therefore, this model provides also a basis for the sector and for governments to create more coherent standards and conditions, aiming for a fair and equal playing field for the sector. As a next step, we aim for aligned standards and codes for the sector on a European, national, and local level.

Relation with other Event Sustainability Tools
Recently various tools and toolboxes have been released, providing festivals with concrete measures which they can implement. Also, the GDCF has an online toolbox with examples of scalable innovations. And ‘Future Festivals Tools’ provide case studies as inspiration and an eLearning course. The European Festival Association (YOUROPE) has released the ‘European Green Festival Roadmap 2030’, as part of its ‘Future-Fit Festivals’ project. All these tools target the broad European festival community and provide concrete measures and actions, aiming to keep up and comply with the European climate and circularity goals.
The model provides a robust perspective for festival organisations, as a basis to set their own sustainability targets (‘what’). The various tools - including the GDCF Toolbox, the Future Festivals Tools and the European Green Festival Roadmap 2030 - provide inspiration with concrete measures and actions to realise these targets (‘how’). The solutions provided by these tools may evolve overtime based on new insights and ongoing innovations, while the ultimate goals laid out by the model intend to be robust.


The Model is work in progress
The model of the GDCF will further develop over time, while definitions, key figures, benchmarks  and targets for specific sectors are under continuous development. It requires an iterative process which allows the model to be optimised by trial and error, by making use of the experiences of festivals and the outcomes of monitoring. This first version of the model is based on information available at this time and based on discussions with participating festivals, knowledge institutes and experts. While parties are committed to collaborate in the GDCF until 2025, the model may further evolve, based on new insights and experiences.

This model - just like the GDCF Monitor - is available for all festivals, other events, other sectors, suppliers and governments. Our only condition is, that we ask you to share your feedback and experiences with the application; this will be valuable for further developing the model and monitor. Please share your comments, requests and experiences via:


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