RE[act] Festival Launch

Creating a sustainable Belfast City.

Our story

By Chris McCracken, Linen Quarter BID

The Linen Quarter BID (LQ BID) is an independent not for profit company that focuses on delivering specific improvements based in Belfast city centre, Northern Ireland. The LQ BID was elected in 2018 and represents around 400 member organisations across various sectors, namely hospitality, professional services, and public sector.

RE[act] featured 30 unique events between 2 – 14 November 2021. RE[act] was a completely new Northern Ireland festival, that sought to inspire - and lead – a more sustainable Belfast (and Northern Ireland). It took place at the same time as COP26, and was aligned with the global conference's daily themes, to help integrate Northern Ireland into the global conversation.

The RE[act] festival was the largest strategic COP26 event in Northern Ireland.

The keynote speaker was Carol Lemmens (Netherlands), leader of ARUP's global advisory service and a renowned expert on the circular economy. His insightful presentation highlighted the comprehensive changes we require to remodel our lifestyles and reshape our cities with circularity at the core. Drawing on his international experience, and in-depth thought leadership, Carol showcased projects from around the world, and invited the audience to consider what is possible in Belfast. John Walsh (Belfast City Council) provided a response to Carol's challenge on behalf of Belfast City, outlining the council's Bolder Vision and Resilience Strategy.

The launch also include what the LQ BID is doing to create Northern Ireland's first sustainable district, a sustainable challenge for schools, and an expert panel discussion. The launch also included what the Linen Quarter is doing to create Northern Ireland's first sustainable district. Brett Ross, CEO RiverRidge, highlighted a carbon budget pilot for the Linen Quarter, Prof. Julie McCandless outlined a sustainable competition for schools, followed by an expert panel discussion with audience Q&A.

Our advice

It was important for us to both raise RE[act] festival awareness and encourage event participation. We needed a solid platform launch event - that would stimulate an interest in sustainability. That is why we focused on the topic of what is a sustainable (greener) city and what are its benefit to the business and civic community. A taster to the quality content and value of the forthcoming festival.

In Sept 2021 LQ BID launched Northern Ireland's first sustainable district, with a series of ten initiatives that seeks to make the Linen Quarter the most sustainable business area in the region.

The festival planning team spent some time thinking about the key messages, context and key note speakers for the RE[act] festival launch event. After consulting wider business partners we invited an acknowledged global thought leader as launch key note speaker - to show by example and experience - the real and practical/commercial benefits to Belfast (and other Northern Ireland cities/regions) arrived from the collective transition towards a greener build environment and sustainable city.

It was important for us not only to illustrate but practically show how Belfast City was actually doing this and how collectively with business, community and government are partnering with others towards a greener city. We invited a senior Belfast City Council director to formally respond to the keynote speaker's presentation.

At the end of the session we opened the floor to a Q&A session with the keynote speaker - it was important both audience and media had the opportunity to ask questions about a greener built environment but also the key messages about the festival.

We would encourage other city districts to hold similar events with expert panels and open them to both business and civic audiences.

What would we do differently is have a little more time for questions.

Our metrics

  • Number of people attending festival event.
  • Positive evaluation by participants.
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