The Ilosaarirock festival has been organized for around 50 years, and from the very beginning one of our core values has been to look after both the people and the planet. While organising a festival this size is not exactly a ‘green deed’, actions are taken to ensure that the social and environmental accountability of Ilosaarirock is as good as it can be. When it comes to sustainability practices, Ilosaarirock has done pioneering work, setting the example for other Finnish festivals – and this is exactly how we mean to go on. The primary aim is that everyone who joins us to celebrate ‘the best weekend of the year’ at our wonderful festival site feels safe and happy, now and also in the future.
The Values of Ilosaarirock
Ilosaarirock has been running since 1971, and is organised by Joensuu Pop Musicians' Association, a non-profit organisation founded on the idea of supporting the local live music scene. Ilosaarirock is an independent festival with no private ownership.
In addition to our unwavering love for music and culture, our core values include an ambition to make North Karelia and the Joensuu area a better place to live, and a devotion to looking after the environment. Any profits that are potentially made during the festival are donated to causes that are agreeable with our core values. Over the years more than 350 000 euros of Ilosaarirock profits have been distributed to local bands, artists and cultural events. The funds are allocated by the Joensuu Pop Musicians' Association Fund.
When it comes to environmental accountability, Ilosaarirock has done pioneering work, setting the example for other Finnish festivals.
Ilosaarirock was awarded with the international Green'n'Clean environmental certificate in 2008 and was the first festival in Finland to receive the certification. One of our core values has always been to organise the festival in a way that respects the environment, but since receiving the certification our environmental work has been more regulated, target-oriented and duly documented. The most noticeable change brought about by the certification was a significant reduction in the use of single-use plastic cups and the introduction of the deposit system at licensed bar areas, which has become common practice at many other festivals, too.
In 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016 Ilosaarirock was awarded with an international A Greener Festival Award for the environmental work done and was the first festival in Finland to obtain the award. In 2012 Ilosaarirock scored as ‘outstanding’, the highest score available across the eleven areas of assessment. In order to receive the AGF Award, the participating festival must meet strict criteria that cover numerous aspects of environmental work from soil protection to waste management. The process includes submitting self-assessments and written reports, such as sustainability policy, in conjunction with international auditing. Gaining the award has helped us to improve many of our practices and operating models, accelerating our journey to become one of the greenest music festivals on the planet.
Another example of our environmental work is a unique area of forest called ‘Pop Forest’ at Koli National Park that Ilosaarirock planted in cooperation with Unesco.
Sustainable Development Project
In 2019, Ilosaarirock, in partnership with PKS (a North Karelian energy company), launched a two-year sustainable development project. The aim of the project is to reduce the environmental impact of the festival, raise awareness about responsible energy use among festival goers and share practical tips on how people can reduce their individual carbon footprint.
Some of the main aspects of the project include monitoring energy consumption during the festival, optimising energy efficiency as well as exploring ways to generate electricity within the festival area. For instance, in summer 2019 the festival goers were able to charge their mobile phones at the PKS Solar Power Park that utilised photovoltaic energy produced on site.
Ilosaarirock is supplied with green electricity by PKS, which means that the energy used comes from renewable sources.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
Since 2010 Ilosaarirock has calculated its carbon footprint and aimed to minimise the emissions caused by the festival. By measuring our emissions, we can detect any areas of concern in our energy consumption and improve the level of environmental sustainability of the festival each year.
The way the carbon footprint of Ilosaarirock is calculated has been divided into three parts: performers, production and visitors. First, we calculate the emissions generated by the bands and artists as they travel to and from Joensuu. Second, the focus shifts onto production: the technical implementation of the festival, electricity generation, waste management, water consumption, printed materials, transportation emissions as well as everything that goes on behind the scenes year round. Third, we calculate the emissions created by the festival guests travelling to and from Joensuu based on customer surveys and information provided by our partners.
Every year Ilosaarirock donates funds to different environmental projects to offset the greenhouse emissions it produces, in accordance with the emissions trading principles of the EU. However, we cannot state that the festival is officially ‘carbon neutral’, as we prefer to invest funds in projects close to our heart rather than standardised carbon offsetting schemes available. The key sustainability policy of Ilosaarirock is to focus on local environmental issues in addition to global ones, and therefore we usually aim to fund nature conservation sites or projects that are located in North Karelia or its vicinity.
In 2010 a monetary sum corresponding to the amount of EU certified carbon credits consumed during the festival was donated to protect the endangered northern crested newt, whereas in 2011 funds were donated to the preservation of the Kuorinka lake in Liperi. Since then Ilosaarirock has donated money to help the protection of many endangered species such as the Finnish landlocked salmon, the golden eagle and the Saimaa ringed seal.
The charitable causes are identified together with environmental organisations, such as the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) and the North Karelia Biosphere Reserve, which is a member of UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Programme.
Ilosaarirock is powered by green electricity provided by the energy company PKS. The green electricity is produced from emission-free wind power that comes from Torkkola wind farm located in Western Finland.
Electricity consumption is closely monitored during Ilosaarirock. Before the festival begins, each unit, including sound and lighting suppliers, partners and vendors, are required to provide detailed calculations of the amount of electricity that is consumed by equipment. The units and vendors that consume more electricity than predicted are required to pay extra for additional consumption. Compromises are made to reduce electricity consumption at every possible turn and action is taken where possible; for instance, energy saving LED lights have replaced traditional bulbs for the stage lighting.
Every once in a while we are required to use diesel generators to generate additional electricity. However, most of the generators are powered by renewable diesel, and our aim is to replace traditional biodiesel with renewable diesel in all of the generators used as soon as possible.
Ilosaarirock has acted as a testing ground for new, sustainable sources of energy. Among other experiments, the festival has been powered by portable wind power turbines and wood pellet power plants. Ilosaarirock is committed to continually testing new sources of energy together with the festival’s sustainable development partner, PKS.
100% of the waste created in the making of Ilosaarirock is either recycled or used to produce energy – nothing goes to a landfill.
At the festival site there are recycling facilities for biodegradable waste, metal, glass, cardboard, plastics, cans, bottles and hazardous waste. Additionally, there are designated ashtrays for cigarette butts. Recycling your waste at Ilosaarirock could not be any easier. The recycling units come staffed with our very own ‘recycling assistants’ who are more than happy to help you sort your waste and decide which bin to use for which item.
The cans and cups that are used to serve drinks at licensed bar areas contain a small deposit. When you bring your can or cup back to be reused, you will get your deposit back, which helps keep the festival area clean and tidy. Outside the actual festival area, an assigned team of volunteers is in charge of collecting empty bottles and cans and recycling them in an appropriate manner. Any food that has been left over from the festival catering is donated to local homeless shelters or other organisations that give food aid. Leftover bread is given to local horse stables as a nice treat for the horses.
Bringing large items, such as sofas, armchairs or marquees, to the festival site or the camping area is not allowed, when it seems obvious that the items will get discarded at the end of the festival.
We are committed to improving the waste management of Ilosaarirock and get together with our partners each year to find better ways to reduce, reuse and recycle our waste.
Food, Drink and Other Consumables
The aim of Ilosaarirock is to guide the festival food vendors to invest in ethically and ecologically sound produce. Food vendors who offer vegetarian and vegan options only are charged less to put up their stall than vendors selling meat products, and every food stall is required to have at least one vegetarian or vegan option on their menu.
Our own catering units use produce that is primarily vegetarian, ethical, organic and locally produced. Every cup of coffee or tea served at Ilosaarirock is Fair Trade certified and you will also find a great selection of organic beers and wines at the festival restaurants over the weekend.
There are plenty of fresh water taps at the festival area where it is possible to fill your own bottle with the clean and refreshing drinking water of Joensuu, often dubbed as the best tasting tap water in the world. Don’t forget to bring your own reusable water bottle along to the festival and refill it regularly to stay hydrated. The taps are easy to open and close, meaning there is no need to leave the taps running and needlessly waste water. The level of consumption and the quality of water at the festival is monitored annually.
The Ilosaarirock t-shirts, hoodies and other festival merchandise on sale are made of ethically and ecologically produced cotton. Our lanyards, wristbands and chip cards are made with material that comes from recycled bottles. The art and decorations that are on display during the festival are made primarily of recycled materials, and the same decorations are reused year after year.
Our partners and affiliates are equally committed to Ilosaarirock’s environmental values and practices. They are actively involved in making both Ilosaarirock and their own operations more environmentally friendly. Together we can help create a festival that is good for both the people and the planet!
Transportation and Parking
According to the annual carbon footprint analysis of Ilosaarirock, transportation is the single biggest generator of emissions during the event. However, the ways in which festival goers, artists and production teams transport themselves from one place to another is very hard to control and have an impact on. Together with our partners and affiliates we actively seek to find the most sustainable transport solutions that work in the long-term.
Actions are taken to mitigate the use of transport and reduce emissions overall. With thorough planning we have been able to minimise the number of journeys required to transport goods and equipment on and off the festival site, while the staff are kitted out with Ilosaarirock bikes allowing them to reduce the amount of car use. When we make procurements or hire subcontractors we always do our best to source everything as locally as possible in order to avoid goods and people having to be transported from afar.
Without a doubt, the main source of carbon emissions is guests travelling to Joensuu before the festival and heading home after the fun is done. Festival goers are encouraged to try carpooling or use public transport. Please check the Ilosaarirock website for more information about the possibility to hitch a ride to Joensuu with one of the festival coach tours or carpooling schemes available.
VR, the Finnish national rail service, provides additional train services during the festival weekend with an increased amount of carriages. The Ilosaarirock bus ‘Rokkibussi’ takes you from the Joensuu train station to the festival area free of charge. The local bus company will offer additional night service buses during the festival weekend. There are paid parking facilities available to those who arrive by car and paid bicycle parks to those who choose to pedal their way to the festival.
Equality and Safety
The guiding principle of Ilosaarirock is to organise a festival where everyone is made feel welcome. There is zero tolerance for discrimination, sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour of any kind – everyone is accepted just the way they are! Those working at Ilosaarirock, including our staff, partners and subcontractors, are committed to promoting equality and safeguarding the well-being of the festival goers. Furthermore, the festival area is designed to be accessible and is suitable for guests with reduced mobility.
Our security officers and staff members are trained to identify and address any incidents of harassment. If you were to experience or witness harassment yourself, please contact the Red Cross sexual harassment support person for help and assistance or file a complaint with the police, who are there to assist you all through the festival weekend.
Please respect the physical integrity of others attending the festival. Everyone should feel safe and be able to enjoy their weekend. There are hundreds of security officers overseeing the safety and well-being of guests at the festival site, camping area, as well as outside the gates. Additionally, the police, fire and rescue authorities, together with the Red Cross first aid and support services personnel are always at hand. Any instances of harassment or other forms of unpleasant behavior should be reported to security officers or one of the staff members immediately.
With all these measures, we want to make sure that everyone’s festival experience is a truly memorable one... for all the right reasons.
In addition to the work done for the environment, the Joensuu Pop Musicians' Association is also keen to promote social well-being in North Karelia. In order to do this, we have teamed up with several local Non-Governmental Organisations that we cooperate and organise projects with.
In 2018 a charity called Hope was the cooperation partner for all our events, including Ilosaarirock, Rokumentti music film festival and Vekararokki children’s festival. The funds donated by Ilosaarirock assisted Hope in organising leisure activities for disadvantaged children and youth, helped families in need with sports vouchers, provided free tickets to various events and organised Christmas gift collections, among other things.
In 2019 Ilosaarirock partnered with North Karelian Society for Social Security and their community outreach programme for the elderly. The goal of the programme was to help lonely senior citizens who are looking to meet other people, socialise and have something meaningful to do. Ilosaarirock also donated free festival tickets to the senior members of the community found through the programme.
Every year Ilosaarirock employs several dozen sports clubs and other local organisations that are able to finance their activities by working at the festival. Volunteering can offer a meaningful way to get involved, learn new things and gain memorable experiences. Young people aged between 12 and 15, as well as people with special needs, are invited to volunteer at Ilosaarirock every summer.