Greg Howell - Climate Wave Enterprises

What is ‘Sustainable Event Management’?
Sustainable Event Management (SEM), also referred to as ‘event greening’, encompasses all aspects of sustainability - environmental, economic and social issues - in managing and running an event. Sustainability is incorporated into every aspect, from planning, organisation and participation, to ensure the event is hosted responsibly. Ideally, event greening should begin at the inception of a project but an event can also have green components without having to be a full-scale sustainable event. Often there can be difficulties sourcing sustainable products or services due to the infancy of SEM in Australia but by incorporating green aspects wherever possible, event organisers are at least making an effort.

All green events in Australia apply international standard best management practices - ISO 20121. This is the highest standard in the world and supports event organisers in integrating sustainability in their activities. It covers all events, which could be anything from small, local stuff  to mega events like the Olympic and Paralympic Games. I’m really pleased that the SEM industry in Australia is recognised with an ISO standard as it gives me heart that we are committing to events that can deliver positive and long-lasting benefits to our communities.

How did you get involved in Sustainable Event Management?
I’ve been a dedicated environmental advocate since I started surfing! I can remember attending my first No-Nukes Rally in 1989 and I’ve been a passionate environmental campaigner ever since. I got involved in SEM through my work at Surfrider Foundation where I’ve held various roles, including Executive Director. I organised a lot of events for Surfrider and over time noticed there was a lot of over-use of resources and significant waste being generated. I thought there has to be a better way of running these events and so I started looking into greener options. I had kick-started a range of local and national environmental educational programs so was well positioned to then setup my own initiative - Climate Wave Enterprises, Eco-logical Event Solutions, which I founded in 2008.

What kind of events have you been involved in running?
I’ve had the pleasure of working on a range of green festivals and events including, the Earth Frequency Festival, Woodford Folk Festival, SWELL Sculpture FestivalBleach* (2012, 2013, 2014), Kirra Surf Stock – surfing lifestyle festival, Gold Coast Beach Soccer Championships, Unity Festival and the Indonesian Surfing Championship Tour

What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m running my own event, the Eco Challenge Gold Coast. I’m super excited about this event, especially the first part, which is a wooden surfboard expression session that we are running as part of the Bleach* Festival on Sunday 16th March at Currumbin Beach. We have several wooden surfboard shapers who have already committed to the Eco Challenge including, Bali Balsa SurfboardsDovetail SurfboardsFirewire SurfboardsMantle Surf Design, Sting Glide, Surfing Green, Grant Newby Surfboards, Richard Harvey Surfboards and Tom Wegener Surfboards. The event will raise funds for the Surfrider Foundation ‘Rise above Plastics’ project.

Eco Challenge

How long have you been surfing?
I started surfing at age three in Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne. I learnt on a foamy, which would totally rash me out at the beginning of each summer until I could build up enough callous-like skin on my belly and chest!

What do you surf?
The boards I’m surfing at the moment are both Stewart Maxwell designs from Currumbin on the Gold Coast. I have a 9’2” mal, which is a great all-round board from nose riding to snapping off the lip. I also have a 6’6”, which has a bit of extra width – helps my old shoulders to paddle on!

What are your favourite surf breaks?
My favourites are two local spots - Flatrock Creek and Currumbin Alley but my most memorable surf was at Frigates Reef in Fiji.

What is the best part about the work you do?
The best part is, knowing that what I do is having a positive impact and more importantly, making a difference. It might only be in a small way but I hope to spread the word of sustainable event management, corporate social responsibility and legacy to an increasingly larger audience. My job also allows me to meet and connect with some awesome like-minded people who also support the cause, which really inspires me!

What is the hardest part?
It’s tough being a front-runner in a relatively new industry. A lot of what I do is advocating sustainability, educating people about the green options available and trying to influence changes to long-time practices. This all takes time, persistence and patience! It can be a hard slog let me tell you but I believe it’s worth it. 

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get involved in Sustainable Event Management?
Do your research! Get across all of the sustainable event products, services and networks within the industry so you have a good understanding of what you’re dealing with. Stay focused and stay motivated by surrounding yourself with other people working in the industry who support the cause, otherwise you’ll get worn out (and a little lonely) quickly. There are now plenty of courses and programs available in sustainable event management, which once completed, could see you working events like the Olympic Games!

Where can we find you online? 


Posted by: Jaclyn Knight, on March 6, 2014
Categories: Interviews