SustainED, Edinburgh’s first citywide sustainability festival, was realised by the Edinburgh University Students’ Association in partnership with the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh City Council. Additional support came from InvestSec, the Woodland Trust and the Edinburgh Lothians GreenSpace Trust.
Various student societies, local businesses and social enterprises were also involved in the organisation and the running of the festival. It was partly inspired by the Glasgow Goes Green festival, which is currently taking place. Kelly told The Student that the motivation behind the festival was to celebrate the many activities related to sustainability issues within the university community and beyond, and to further centralise and encourage sustainability efforts.
“As with any pilot, everything for this festival is a trial. We hope to assess the viability of having SustainED as an annual festival, and will then be able to take best and worst practices from our first attempt.”
During the festival, issues such as sustainable travelling, food consumption or relationships between humans and non-human animals and the planet were addressed through a wide variety of means and events, e.g. lectures, fairs, film screenings, exhibitions or a fashion show.
A central concern was to make SustainED a far-reaching, widely accessible and inclusive festival. Kelly comments: “We clearly hope to have high footfall, but more importantly to encourage conversations around sustainability.
“We want to highlight the opportunities that exist, and the manner by which all disciplines can be part of protecting the environments, not just the standard groups.”
Furthermore: “This is the beginning of more fruitful relationships between the Students’ Association and community groups, strengthening the work we already do internally and for our members.” Kelly also points out a positive attitude of the university towards divestment demands from the student body in recent years.
“We have secured two student seats on the new Renewable Energy and Low Carbon Options review group, which was established as a response to the divestment efforts. The university recognise the need to invest positively and have been having ongoing conversations, involving the students association, about how best to do so.”
An impact report with attendee and coordinator feedback will be released soon.
Image: STV Edinburgh