To date, over 190 organisations and individuals within arts and culture have declared a climate emergency, seeing fit to urgently express their concerns about the multiple crises of climate change, mass species extinction and resource depletion. Recognising the need to act is a vital step. The challenge is in developing an alternative economic model that moves industry and society towards an economy that restores more than it consumes. Or more simply put...acknowledging the need for system wide change is important - but understanding how to change, is more complex.

For years the sustainability narrative has focused on reducing our emissions, pollution, waste - effectively suggesting that we just need to do 'less bad', aiming for zero emissions. Some thought leaders argue that this focus obstructs us from the ability to completely redesign our economic model - suggesting that focusing on doing 'less bad' effectively meands we are simply doing 'bad'...better! These thought leaders, such as William McDonough from the Cradle to Cradle Institute emphasise that we don't have a waste problem, rather we have a design problem - that waste is a product of bad design. 

This framing of sustainability is slowly being replaced by the framework of a circular economy, with the likes of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation driving forward the conversation wiht international business, UK and EU policy members. Within our industry SiPA.org.uk has been leading the conversation around this novel framing since 2015, focusing on what 'doing more good' looks like over 'doing less bad', with some very interesting examples. Recent research into 'how circular our industry is', undertaken in 2018, demonstrates that as an industry, we happen to be ahead of the game (in comparison to the global economy - depicted as only 6-9% circular), and can in fact provide pointers on how to transition an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.

Last month, at ABTT 2019 in Ally Pally the conversation on what us 'technical solution providers' to the live entertainment industry can do to support the transition to a circular economy was further explored; with a number of interesting examples of system shifts underway. What was evident this year, is the increasing desire for knowledge on how to act in transforming business models and what toolkits there are that enable working collaboratively across industry, as we aim to accelerate the transition to an economy that is restorative by design. Subsequently a number of larger organisations within our industry have chosen to sign up to SiPA in support of the goals. Furthermore, some of the solutions discussed, coupled with the energy of genuine engagement, distinguished this discussion to previous years, as after the event there was a strong sense of hope in the room.

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