Sustainable Flow is Flow Festival’s responsibility program. It is a constantly developing entity aiming to guarantee the environmental, social, and economic responsibility of Flow’s operations.
Flow Festival is known for its long-standing sustainability work reaching over a decade. The festival’s carbon footprint has been calculated and compensated with official standardised projects from 2009–2019. In 2021, the festival launched a new research project with D-mat, an expert company for a sustainable future, to evaluate the festival ecosystem’s overall environmental impact and develop new tools for more sustainable festival production. The research is run by D-mat, founded by one of Finland’s leading experts in resource efficiency and dematerialisation, Michael Lettenmeier. It is supported by Finland’s sustainable growth program, funded by the European Union’s NextGenerationEU financing.
During the project, an extended calculation of Flow Festival 2022’s carbon footprint was executed, including the indirect emissions behind the production’s service chains, e.g. the transportation of festival visitors and artists. Additionally, the material footprint of the whole festival was calculated, which has helped to determine the festival’s consumption of natural resources and to understand its comprehensive ecological effects. Through the results, an even more holistic understanding of the environmental impacts of the different aspects of the event was formed, and new solutions to decrease the climate impact and use of natural resources are created. The project’s report, Flow Impacts, was released in March 2023. At the project’s next phase, Flow and D-mat are constructing a budgeting tool for using natural resources and ecological footprint for the entire event industry, helping organisers plan, track and reduce their emissions and environmental burden.
Based on the calculations and expertise provided by D-mat, Flow has reduced its environmental debt by donating to the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation. The total donation sum is based on the calculations made at Flow Festival 2022. With the donation, four hectares of Finnish forest are permanently protected. Flow will continue to reduce its environmental debt through the Foundation in the coming years.
Flow dropped red meat and poultry entirely out of the food selection in 2022. This policy applies to the food served to the audience, artists, and staff. Each restaurant must also have at least one vegan option, and 10 % of all restaurants serve only vegan meals. The Flow Impacts research proved that due to the absence of red meat and poultry, the climate impact of the food consumed at Flow 2022 was 50 % smaller than in 2019. Read more about the research here.
The caterers of Flow are provided with Sustainable Meal guidelines that are developed according to the principles of sustainable catering. They also receive an evaluation form focusing on, for example, the origin and ethical standards of the ingredients used, the energy efficiency of food production, logistics, packaging materials, as well as the use of local, organic, and seasonal products. Following these guidelines, caterers offer a special Sustainable Meal option.
Flow Festival’s visitors can fill up their water bottles at the festival’s water supply points. By drinking tap water, visitors can reduce plastic waste and carbon footprint. Drinking tap water is the most ecological drink option. Additionally, Flow’s drink selection includes numerous responsibly produced beverages and several non-alcoholic drink options.
Flow sorts and recycles all waste produced during the festival, redirecting it to energy production or reusing waste materials. The goal is to further maximise the share of biowaste and other biodegradable waste products further. For example, all cutlery is biodegradable. In 2023, we will further intensify the festival’s waste treatment in cooperation with L&T. We will, for example, switch to packed biowaste, making recycling easier. Additionally, we will increase guidance at the festival’s recycling points. All excess building materials possible will be donated forward.
The festival seeks sustainable and durable solutions for the different stages of event production. For example, we select furniture, fittings, and decorations that use recyclable, reusable, and long-lasting materials. We do our best to avoid new purchases, but when we must, we prefer recycled materials, local production and renewable materials.
Flow Festival’s energy production needs are covered by NesteMy renewable diesel. Renewable diesel is entirely produced from renewable and sustainable feedstocks, such as inedible waste from food production. We continually search for ways to intensify the festival’s energy planning to make it more ecological and economical.
Flow Festival is held in Suvilahti, close to Helsinki city centre. It is easy to access Flow by bike, foot, or public transport. There is a free bicycle parking area near the festival site, where you can leave your bike during the festival. HSL organises additional public transport services during the festival weekend.
Since 2012, Flow Festival has used the EcoCompass environmental management system. In 2022, the EcoCompass certificate was audited and updated. For several years, we have also cooperated with the John Nurminen Foundation. Visitors have been able to support the Foundation with a donation of their choice while purchasing a festival ticket. The goal of the Foundation’s environmental projects is to improve the condition of the Baltic Sea with concrete measures that reduce the sea’s load and ecological risks. In 2022, the total donation sum of Flow visitors amounted to 6,726 euros. Read John Nurminen Foundation’s tips to save the Baltic Sea that everyone can do through everyday actions and choices.
Flow Festival is committed to justice, equity, and equality. Everyone is welcomed to the festival just as they are, and we tolerate no form of discrimination. We expect our entire staff, as well as our associates and distributors, to adhere to the same values. In 2022, we carried out a visitor survey, to which over 9000 festival visitors answered. 93 % of the people who gave their opinion felt that Flow executed equality well. We strive to develop and carry out equality even better continuously and happily accept any ideas you may have regarding the matter. You can approach us by emailing to office AT flowfestival.com.
Flow is committed to equality and transparency regarding its business activities and internal and external communication, which are also systematically tracked and assessed. All of our employees are committed to a mutual code of conduct. In our marketing communication, we present products, services, fees, and other factors clearly and truthfully and never use misleading terms. Designated people run Flow’s media relations. We reply actively and honestly to customer feedback during the festival and throughout the year.
Flow promotes the establishment of an equal music sector. We comply with the operating principles of The Equal Future of the Music Industry in Finland project. Safer space principles are in use at all of our backstage areas.
Flow Festival’s programming team considers the diversity of each stage’s program, considering, for example, the gender, nationality, ethnicity and age of the performers. Flow presents a wide range of genres in music, art and food.
Flow also participates in the European Keychange initiative, which aims to improve underrepresented gender’s standing in the music industry. Among other things, Keychange participants commit to choosing an equal amount of male and female, trans and non-binary performers by 2022. Flow accomplished the goal in advance: in 2019, 65%, and in 2022, 55 % of the groups that performed at Flow had women, trans or non-binary members.
For several years, Flow has worked with Startup Refugees, a non-profit voluntary network supporting refugees and immigrants with employment and entrepreneurship. Additionally, in cooperation with the city of Helsinki, we have been organising the Helsinki Flow Schoo since 2021. It is an education series for the young, where they can learn extensively about the events industry and the work opportunities it offers. Furthermore, numerous civic organisations volunteer at the festival as a part of their fundraising efforts.
Flow Festival does not accept breaking the law and never encourage or advise anyone to violate existing laws. We work in professional, ethical, and responsible manners and in a sustainable way for the environment and society. We respect our personnel and other people’s right to privacy. We collect, utilize and keep personal data only when it’s justifiable for our operations. We cooperate and converse openly with the organizations, authorities, and other officials in our field of business.
The festival area is designed to be as accessible as possible, considering visitors with reduced mobility. The accessibility planning of the festival area has been done in cooperation with Riesa Consultative, and we strive to consider, for example, visitors with reduced mobility even better. The EU Disability Card and Toilet Card (Vessapassi) can be used at Flow Festival. Assistants can always enter Flow Festival free of charge with the assisted person.
As a large public event, work remains to be done with the festival’s accessibility. We develop Flow’s accessibility continually and welcome improvement suggestions via email to office AT flowfestival.com. Read more about Flow’s accessibility here.
Flow is known as a safe festival, but we recognise the challenges involved with events with large crowds. Together with the festival-goers, subcontractors, and other stakeholders, we create an event everyone can attend safely. In 2022, we carried out a visitor survey, to which over 9000 festival visitors answered. 97 % of respondents felt very or relatively safe at the festival. 96 % did not experience or witness sexual harassment at the festival. 94 % of respondents did not experience or witness bullying or other violence at Flow. Although the results are very positive, we strive to continuously develop and improve the festival’s safety.
The festival area’s routes are kept open, and the site is spacious. Overcrowding and bottlenecks do not form. Together with the security personnel, we monitor the situation continuously and, if necessary, make changes to the festival area and policies. We are prepared for a wide range of possible dangerous situations. We inform the audience about the operating instructions with screen texts and announcements by stage hosts as well as through Flow’s mobile application and social media channels. Additionally, the Finnish Red Cross emergency team is present yearly at Flow.
Flow Festival also works hard to improve the festival’s mental and social safety. In case of possible harassment situations, an equality and harassment contact person is available throughout the festival. The service is intended for all festival guests as well as employees, volunteers, and artists working at the festival. Read more about the harassment contact person here.
Additionally, security personnel with yellow vests help visitors in all matters. You can approach them with any questions regarding the festival’s safety, such as experiencing or witnessing distressing or inappropriate behaviour. Furthermore, The Finnish Red Cross’ preventive substance abuse care workers are present at Flow. Assisting at Flow are also the info volunteers, recognisable by their pink Flow vests. You can approach them with any questions, big or small. They will also hand out earplugs and face masks.
We pay special attention to the health safety of our customers and staff. Flow Festival follows the current guidelines of the authorities and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. There are several hand washing points in the festival area equipped with soap and hand sanitiser. Staff and restaurants are instructed to follow standard safety and hygiene guidelines.
Flow Festival does long-term and systematic work to operate financially sustainably. For the festival’s operation to be economically sustainable, it must also be financially profitable.
In addition, we are constantly working to develop the event industry to be more professional and sustainable. We employ a permanent team of ten people, hundreds of seasonal workers in the events industry, numerous interns and thousands of people through cooperation and subcontracting chains. We comply with statutory employer obligations and remuneration following industry salary recommendations. We also work closely with other operators in the field to develop operating models. We invest in responsibility in procurement and services, and we favour local operators in, for example, accommodation, restaurants and other areas of production.
We also work closely with the City of Helsinki. Flow attracts thousands of tourists, event and culture professionals, media and influencers worldwide to Helsinki annually. We also strive to do our part in promoting the city’s revitalization, attraction and economic success. For example, according to a report by Satu Silvanto in 2015, the organization of the Flow Festival and the audience’s spending generated about 20 million euros in monetary traffic to Helsinki, which, however, covers only a part of the multifaceted economic effects of the festival. According to Silvanto, Flow has also succeeded in creating an ever-developing competence network around itself, which generates new business in other parts of Helsinki as well.