In the deforestation epidemic that has gripped many countries the world over, Zambia has had it rough. Out of 50 million hectares of forest, the country loses up to 300 hectares of that forest area to deforestation every year. A crisis situation requires imaginative and engaging solutions, and three likeminded individuals came together to create Greenpop.
Spreading what they call a “treevolution”, the Greenpop Zambia Festival of Action is a three-week event where participants and volunteers take an active stance against deforestation by planting trees. Part festival, part learning experience, and ultimately a call to action, Greenpop is very much a youth-driven and youth-targeted festival. With a new generation of African high school and university students eager and willing to take environmental activism into their own hands, the rise of environment-driven youth festivals signals a cultural shift in the methods used to garner publicity about and encourage investment in environmental affairs.
In the age of Snapchat and Instagram, political rhetoric and long speeches packed with technical language just won’t get the full message across. The feeling of being part of a global youth movement for the greater good of Mother Nature is a powerful and effective method to get younger generations to think and live green.
Greenpop is not the only environmental festival.
In Africa, North America and Europe, there are several youth-targeted events aimed at spreading a conscious awareness of the state of the world’s environment, and how they can help turn the tide. In the United Kingdom, A Greener Festival hosts several events annually to keep the green momentum going throughout the year. A non-profit which is “committed to helping music and arts events and festivals around the world adopt environmentally efficient practices”, A Greener Festival doesn’t just tackle deforestation: waste recycling and public transport are also areas of interest. Portugal’s annual BoomFestival is built around the ethos of environmental activism. For almost 20 years the festival has developed onsite water treatment, recycling and reuse of buildings and waste material, as well as promoting eco art and social sustainability models.
The United Nations itself recognises the sway that the arts have over movements for change. The Music and Environment Initiative partners with non-profits sprinkled across continents, using music to “address some of the most pressing environmental problems facing the planet.”
These festivals aren’t backwater events, neither are they unpopular underground gatherings. They continue to grow due to the simple yet resonating message that they convey: we created the state of our environment today, but we have the collective power to change it for tomorrow. So the music plays on. The trees are planted, the rubbish collected, the carbon footprint reduced. And in their own way, they help save their planet one festival at a time.