Sustainable Events in Vilnius City: Challenges and Opportunities

Migle Paskeviciute

Based on publication “Towards Sustainable Events Policy: Applied Research on Cultural Events‘ Practices in Vilnius City“  by A. Telesiene ir I. Dicmonaite

Sustainability imperative is accepted globally as the main ethical principle guiding personal and institutional behavior. Recently sustainability principles have been applied in analyzing cultural events, as these have significant impact – social, economic and environmental. This concept calls for implementation of events that have no negative impact (or even leaves a positive legacy) on local communities and overall society. Globally, many sustainable event initiatives have been implemented. The most prominent among the most recent ones are 2010 FIFA World Cup in Cape Town, and 2012 London Olympic Games. Despite the vast amount of good practice examples, Lithuania does not gave a unified document regulating sustainable events in all municipalities.

In 2012 Future Society Institute did a research „ZEN. Zero-Impact Negative Event Network. Sociological research“ for Vilnius City Municipality. In this research the focus was on various traditional or modern cultural events in the Lithuanian capital city of Vilnius and its surroundings. The experiences of the interviewed principal event organizers in Vilnius city reveal that sustainability has not yet become a conventional norm to be followed while planning, managing or implementing events in Vilnius. However, there is a manifest readiness and a will to implement the ideal of a sustainable event. There is a strong openness to ideas of sustainable development, and this would mean that sustainable development principles would flourish under proper conditions.

These conditions are primarily defined by existence of formal control (e.g. city event funding regulations). And secondly, these conditions are defined by existence of non-formal assistance, e.g. some kind of seminars, recommendations on why and how to implement sustainable development principles in event planning and management.

It is important to mention that interviewed experts expressed strong socio-cultural responsibility dimension, e.g. attention to vulnerable groups, inclusion of local communities, discussions of impact on cultural heritage, support for volunteer involvement. Attention to socio-cultural aspects fosters information exchange, networking and social inclusion. It is particularly important for Vilnius city, which has different cultural identities and creative companies.

This sociological research is part of international Project “ZEN. Zero-Impact Cultural Heritage Event Network”, funded by INTERREG IVC programme.