Summary of Notes: Green Recovery in the Arts, Culture, Heritage, and Sport Sectors Roundtable
The purpose of the summary of notes is to document key takeaways from the green recovery roundtable held on September 11, 2020. The goals of the roundtable were to:
- Ensure various stakeholders representing different sectors and industries are heard, having an opportunity to express their thoughts/ideas.
- Understand on-the-ground impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on environmental sustainability efforts from sectors and organizations.
- Have constructive discussions to help identify potential avenues that could help accelerate a green recovery.
- Build a common understanding of the kinds of support needed, and the role of government(s) therein.
At the start of the round table, the representatives shared their general experience on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their sector and organization. The introduction was then followed by two segments:
- Current Efforts and Barriers; and
- Greening Opportunities from our Sectors.
Impact of the pandemic on businesses and sectors
As a means of introduction, participants were asked to state the single biggest impact the pandemic has had on their efforts to green their sector and organization. Key takeaways included:
- The restrictions on large public gatherings have had a significant and negative impact on offerings from various sectors (e.g., cancellation or postponement of local, national and international cultural and sporting events, revenue losses, lost contracts, cancelled programming, shutdown of industries that thrive on large gatherings, and whole urban areas dedicated to public representations becoming deserted).
- Some organizations that already had measures in place to address environmental sustainability are continuing their work on this issue and are following or further developing their environmental sustainability plans/practices, or looking at ways to adapt existing plans to their sector/industry (e.g., the Screen New Deal). Some stakeholders for whom the environment is a newer issue are taking the opportunity to shift their attention to their role with respect to environmental sustainability during the slowing pace of regular activities.
- Organizations have sought partnerships, for instance to consider a digital strategy during slower periods, or on a “green transition” project with their provincial government.
- For other organizations, the development of innovative activities and projects has stalled.
- One positive impact has been that people are reconnecting with the outdoors.
Current efforts and barriers
To stimulate the discussion in the first segment, the following questions were asked:
- What green initiatives are underway?
- What initiatives would you like to implement in the future?
- What barriers do you face?
Some of the key ideas and takeaways included:
Capacity building and knowledge sharing
- There is an opportunity to build resource capacity within sectors to better understand environmental sustainability practices. For example, there could be closer collaboration between sectors to train and educate individuals and organizations on green initiatives.
- There is an opportunity to increase accountability related to environmental sustainability (e.g. by creating a role of “Environmental Steward” to help spearhead environmental initiatives and raise awareness on production sets).
Integrating green operational practices in organizational culture
- Organizations responsible for outdoor features and attractions have started to think about how to build back better. Many organizations across sectors are thinking about ways to reduce their environmental footprint, including ways to implement sustainable productions and re-using materials.
- Organizations could earn accreditation for their environmentally sustainable practices. Organizations working toward accreditation requires the collaboration and commitment of all levels of employees, which results in better engagement and awareness-raising.
- One suggestion was for organizations to increase tracking and measuring of their emissions and use the data to reach targets.
- Film productions could promote and demonstrate the use of green energy in order to help raise awareness of green practices.
Incentives for sectors
- Financial incentives could be used to promote greener productions in all sectors (e.g. theatre, television) where costs are incurred; for example, to offset costs associated with having a recycling program during production. One option would be to fund this through a federal fund for clean energy.
- There is a need for investment into research and development for innovative and environmentally sustainable solutions (e.g. creation of green technology and infrastructure, provision of resources specialized in implementing green practices, etc.).
- Federal funding could be used to support both small organizations and umbrella organizations in their green initiatives (e.g. transforming institutions and operations to become environmentally sustainable, increasing ecological access to a greater number of citizens, etc.)
- There is appetite to switch to green power across sectors. Tax credits for using green power are a good solution but need to be flexible. For instance, the film production industry would not be able to benefit from this given that there are insufficient amounts of outlets to connect to urban power grids so productions rely on diesel generators, which do not qualify for tax incentives. Renewable diesel is an option but it is rare. The technology to develop “green energy kiosks” (such as electric or solar generators) to power a production is too expensive –this could be an area for government involvement.
- Rewards program or incentives could be used to recognize organizations that have green practices in place (e.g. public mention or recognition, prizes, accreditation, etc.)
Support for continued federal guidance
- Federal models/policies/guidelines that organizations can follow are useful; however, support and guidance from the government is also necessary. Some stakeholders who would like to contribute their efforts may be less experienced in navigating different mechanisms of support and may not necessarily know where to start.
- Flexibility is required around results when implementing the guidelines, taking into account organizations’ capacity; however, the general intention should be firm–the vision under which the guidelines are developed must be crystal clear.
- Federal legislation could be used to incentivise the production of green fuels within, for example, the oil and gas sector, which may increase access to cleaner energy by the cultural, heritage and sport sectors.
- National bandwidth upgrades are needed to allow better connectivity between sectors and industries.
Continued collaboration between government and the cultural, heritage and sport sectors
- Climate change requires intra-sector and cross-sector collaboration. There is an acknowledgement that industries and organizations can operate very differently within the same sector, and that there is value in working in closer collaboration and in learning from each other. The federal government has the ability to convene individuals and organizations to discuss and address challenges.
- The federal government also has the power to convene stakeholders from the sectors and from provinces and territories, which also invest in a number of environmental initiatives.
- Some industry associations are very collaborative in nature (for example by representing the interests of unions, studios, suppliers, etc.) These associations could be mobilized, with proper funding, to lead awareness-raising initiatives by, for example, offering online carbon literacy training to members and the community.
Opportunities from our Sectors
To stimulate the discussion in the second segment, the following questions were asked:
- What is the role of the cultural, heritage and sport sectors in promoting and implementing environmental sustainability practices in the wider community?
- What should be the roles of governments, in general, and also specifically in your sectors?
Some of the key ideas and takeaways included:
- The cultural, heritage and sport sectors have a powerful voice and influence due, in part, to their visibility. There is a great opportunity to leverage this visibility in order to raise awareness on environmental issues, and to use cultural and heritage events to reach out to various communities.
- Climate change can be a heavy subject, and messaging can easily bring about feelings of guilt, so the theme needs to be transformed into a positive narrative for audiences, patrons and participants.
- Education and training opportunities are needed for resources from all levels (e.g. studio workers, producers, directors, etc.) so that all players better understand their roles in promoting and implementing environmental sustainability practices.
- Market transformation initiatives could enable industries and sectors to lead by example; for example, providing the supports necessary to instill change, addressing challenges within the sector, showing communities the sector’s clean practices, etc. Practically, this could include making compost bins available to crews, providing clean energy and developing a strategy to make electric vehicles widely available for lease to TV/film productions, etc. Another example from the sport sector includes applying a sustainability lens to games and meets, collaborating with various stakeholders across the sector, working to reduce the carbon emissions of athletes travelling nationally and internationally, looking to bring sport virtually to audiences, and taking a closer look at the role of athletes in protecting the environment.
- It was acknowledged that part of the Government’s role includes setting rules, boundaries and guidelines, and that this leadership was needed. There is appetite for guidance from the Government to help organizations promote environmental projects and practices.
- Stakeholders agreed that the Government should pursue exchanges such as this roundtable to promote and increase intra-sector and cross-sector collaboration.
- Cultural, heritage and sport sectors require support from government to continue connecting Canadians to their pastimes and leisure time (e.g. watching a movie at a movie theater, going to a hockey game, etc.) Because some sectors reach vast audiences, sectors can help raise awareness of environmental issues amongst their audiences.
- Incentives (revenue-based or cost-neutral) could be used to encourage organizations to document their environmental footprint. As a start, the Government (starting with Canadian Heritage and its Portfolio organizations) could collect data about its own operations and assess (and address) its carbon footprint.
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