International Research Conferences: The Academic Impact

May 7, 2018

International Research Conferences: The Academic Impact

The study explores the benefits and barriers for individual researchers and universities when hosting research conferences. It has been commissioned by the Danish Council for Research and Innovation Policy – an advisory body to the Danish Minister of Higher Education and Science, and situates the hosting of research conferences as a potential tool for enhancing the national science system.

The study concludes that the individual researchers benefit mainly in terms of increased visibility and networking. The host institution and wider research environment benefit by easier access to recruitment, involvement of PhD students and younger researchers, as well as increased visibility. There are a number of barriers related to hosting international conferences of which the most prominent are lack of time and resources.

From Boardroom’s partner, The Iceberg.

April 26, 2018

Leaving a Space Legacy in Jerusalem

In the Old City of Jerusalem, there’s a saying that each stone holds a piece of history. Perhaps that’s because the city has a history spanning back thousands of years, from the time of the Judean kings and the Roman Empire through to the Islamic period and modern State of Israel. But while Jerusalem’s past is one draw, the city is looking to its dynamic institutions and research centres to build its future. Highly esteemed conferences in sectors like space are leaving a legacy that extend far beyond Jerusalem’s famed Western Wall, impacting the city and influencing others around the globe with groundbreaking new developments. 

Strengthening Space Ties

Sitting at the centre of the world, connecting the East and West and making it an easy destination for delegates to descend upon, Jerusalem has earned a reputation of being a place worth visiting for more than its holy history. But looking beyond and to the future, the city is also seen as one of the top emerging technological hubs, while Israel as a whole has rightfully earned the nickname The Startup Nation since it boasts the largest number of per-capita startups and venture capital investments in the world.

Not only is Jerusalem buzzing in terms of business, the city is also home to one of the top academic institutions, The Hebrew University, which ranks among the 100 most outstanding in the world. Along with its affiliate Hadassah Medical Center, the university conducts over one-third of Israel’s academic research and 43% of the country’s biotechnology research. The city acts as an academic powerhouse and leader in life sciences, with revolutionary research in the realm of regenerative medicine and stem cell experimentation, drawing the likes of scientists and physicians from around the country—and world—to showcase their findings in the same fields.

But one sector that’s really gaining momentum is space, with a legacy that can still be felt after the 66thannual International Astronautical Congress (IAC)—the world’s leadingspace conference—was held in Jerusalem in 2015.

IAC 2015

Hosted by the Israel Space Agency at the Jerusalem Israel Convention Center (ICC), the IAC brought together over 2,000 participants from 60 different countries, with more than 100 exhibitions and presenters, including American aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin; the Italian Space Agency; the South African National Space Agency; Korea Aerospace Research Institute; the Romanian Space Agency; Israel Aerospace Industries;and the UK Space Agency. “This annual event serves as a backdrop for the global space sector allowing governmental, academia and private industry leaders to envision, implement and complete collaborative projects for the betterment of science and humanity,” explained former Minister of Science, Technology and Space Danny Danon.

The International Astronautical Federation (IAF) has a history stemming back more than 60 years, before the first satellite was even sent into space, and the IAC is its largest annual conference. In similar style to the Olympic Games, the federation, which includes founding members like France’s Groupement Astronautique Français (French Astronautic Group) and the United Kingdom’s British Interplanetary Society, selects the next destination for the IAC threeyears in advance. Israel first played host to the IAC in 1994, but a lot has changed in the past two decades as the country has expanded its research and development in space sciences. “The fact that this space convention was chosen to take place in Israel is a tribute to Israeli sciences leading and advancing in the field. Israel may only be 68 years of age but the country is in the front row for entrepreneurship and new developments internationally,” Israel’s Minister of Science, Technology, and Space Ofir Akunis said in a statement regarding IAC 2015.

The full version of this article, written by Boardroom editor Lane Nieset,  is available in the April/May issue of the magazine available here. This is part of Boardroom’s 
legacy series, where we take a deeper journalistic dive into how congresses can leave a lasting legacy in the cities or regions where they’re held… and beyond.

April 19, 2018

Legacies of the Decoupling of Chinese Associations

A special contributor to Boardroom, Olivia Jia, Senior Manager of IME Consulting Co., Ltd. and publisher of the ‘China Social Organisation’ magazine, reflects on the specificities of working with associations in China.

 The first international conference held in China was the Peking Scientific Symposium in 1964 with 367 delegates, which had more of a political aspect. After the reform in 1978, China moved to join many international associations and set up several national trade associations. As a result, several international association congresses were organised with the support of the state government, such as the World Conference on Women in 1995 and the International Postal Congress in 1996. However, 1996 saw the end of this opening towards the world for the country as the State Council enforced a notice according to which there was a hold over international conferences in China.

The reason for this was twofold; firstly, it was financially challenging since most of the international congresses held in China as well as the expenses of local attendees were both sponsored by the local government. Secondly, for the duration of a conference there was not enough time for the heads of the Chinese associations, who normally also served as ministers or other kind of government officials at the time, to perform their official duties.

Finding the right local partner is key

Fifteen years later, in 2011, and with the approval of the State Council, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs jointly issued the notice on the strict control of international conferences in China, emphasizing again that all of the international conferences held there would fall under the jurisdiction of Foreign Affairs, hence requiring approval from the government in advance. The notice went further to ensure that no foreign organisation could hold a conference in China without collaborating with a local partner, namely state organs, people’s organisations, institutions or social organisations. A smart move as local partners could help benefit the industry of China.

Taking into account this recent restriction, it became important to choose the right local partner in order to get the permit to hold an international conference. Several umbrella associations, such as China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) & Chinese Medical Association (CMA) ,cooperated quite actively with their international counterparts securing their congress in China. In fact, by the end of June 2017, there were over 725,000 social organisations in China including 344,000 trade associations and chambers of commerce, 375,000 private non-enterprise organisations and 5,900 foundations who could serve as your local partner.

The new face of associations

In July 2015, the Central Party of China Committee and the State Council issued the “Overall Plan for Decoupling the Trade Association Chamber of Commerce from the Administration” declaring that the former should be separated from their executive branch by the end of 2018. This separation included 5 different aspects: separation of organisations, functions, assets from finance, personnel management and also separation of party building and foreign affairs. This new plan resulted in more market-oriented associations. Through a process of self-improvement, they managed to get closer to their members’ interests in an effort to be more active in the market economy. Adjusting to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the decoupled associations became more active and open for communication when facing the international market.

As the international department of the ‘China Social Organisation’ magazine, we are supported by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China and organised by the China Association for Non-Profit Organisation (CANPO). Our main readers are over 100,000 Chinese social organisations, including trade associations & the Chamber of Commerce, as well as private non-enterprise units and foundations. That is why, since the beginning of last year, more and more national associations come to us with various questions concerning their international business on, for instance, how to organise international sessions during congresses, how to invite international speakers or even how to bid for an international conference.

Tricky business

With most of Chinese associations built from the top down – with few exceptions which are built spontaneously – the majority of their headquarters, especially within national associations, are based in Beijing. This is mainly due to the fact that most of the country’s administration offices are located in the area.

As a case study proves, we now have three national liquor industry associations originating from the former Ministry of Light Industry, the former Ministry of Trade and the liquor specialised committee of China Food Industry association. This phenomenon of recurring associations also exists in other industries due to lack of communication between them. It is the result of China’s long-term implementation of departmentalised management, meaning that, in the past, an industry had a number of government departments to handle, which in turn built up industry associations for their own purposes during the process of reform. It is then crucial to be clear which government department an association belongs to.

Further reading: Filing for NGO temporary activities

  • Application conditions: If an overseas NGO has not established a representative office in China, but intends to carry out temporary activities, the NGO needs to have been legally established abroad; and will cooperate with the state organs, people’s organization, institutions and social organisations of China.
  • Application materials: Overseas NGO Representative Office Registration Form/ Provisional Activities Filing Registration Form; documents and materials proving that the NGO has been legally established overseas; “Articles of Association” of the overseas NGO; materials proving its existence for more than two years and its activities abroad; the name, purpose, geographical area and duration of the specific provisional activity.
  • Timeline: Filing the application 5 months in advance: for a conference of over 100 international delegates or for a total delegate number of over 400; for a science and technology conference, with over 300 international delegates or for a total delegate number of over 800; for a conference where ministers or higher level foreign officials or former heads of state attend the event (for any other international events, the application should be filed 3 months in advance).

April 13, 2018

The Virtue of Patients

Medical associations that invite patients onto their stages and into their conference-planning committees are finding that patients are a virtue.

At the European Lung Foundation (ELF), a patient-centered organization founded by the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and based in Sheffield, U.K., the shift toward patient involvement was gradual, for instance.

The patient-involvement initiative is linked to the joint effort of ELF and ERC to leave a legacy behind in the cities where conferences are organised.

Read all about it on the website of our partner Convene, the PCMA magazine.

April 5, 2018

ICC Sydney: A Pioneering Venue

Following its opening in December 2016, International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) has gone from strength to strength, helping to drive Australia’s reputation as one of the world’s most desirable meeting destinations.

The numbers speak for themselves. In 2017 alone, ICC Sydney welcomed a significant 1.3 million visitors to 755 events including 36 major international events, 151 national conventions, 71 exhibitions and 56 concerts. A few highlights included the 10th World Chambers Congress, which came to Sydney for the first time, and the International Bar Association Annual Conference, the largest event in the international law calendar which was attended by 4,500 delegates from 128 countries.

Innovation: A Key Driver for Success

ICC Sydney places innovation at its very heart: it has been the first conference venue in Australia to introduce a virtual reality video experience and the first to pilot a mobile airline check-in and baggage drop service. Its industry-first Feeding Your Performance culinary philosophy delivers dishes designed to fuel both body and mind with fresh, local, seasonal produce for optimum event experiences.

Geoff Donaghy, CEO of ICC Sydney and Director of Conventions Centres for AEG Ogden, adds: “The innovation focus will continue with our unique multi-streamed Legacy Program now underway. Spanning four streams, the approach has been designed to provide clients with an opportunity to partner with locals in a meaningful way through four diverse streams – Innovators & Entrepreneurs, Generation Next, First Australians and Sustainable Events.”

Looking ahead, the ICC Sydney team is focused on ensuring that everything they do consistently reaches a world class standard, elevating Australia’s position on the global stage while fostering powerful long-term benefits for clients, visitors and the community, which are felt long after our events take place.

Harnessing the Power of Technology

Underpinning this success has been a commitment to harnessing the power of technology to deliver inspiring meetings. ICC Sydney is a purpose-built, digital venue established on a 10Gbps optical fibre backbone which not only supports the needs of today, but also has the capability to flex for decades to come across all types of events.

Its infrastructure was put to the test with the annual Salesforce World Tour to Australia, which saw the venue’s technical expertise and ICT structure play a crucial role in delivering for the client’s expectations. ICC Sydney attracted more than 13,500 registrations while accommodating more than 5,200 concurrent Wi-Fi users across 150 sessions. As a result, the event was even welcomed back a second time to ICC Sydney where three of the venue’s Exhibition Centre halls transformed into the ultimate space for innovation and collaboration.

ICC Sydney is also supporting the next generation of technical professionals: it has launched its paid Audio Visual (AV) Graduate Program, designed to provide unparalleled vocational training and development opportunities. As part of the initiative, five exceptional graduates are gaining exposure to a year-round calendar of events, exhibitions and conventions, working across all areas of ICC Sydney’s AV and production services including rigging, audio, lighting and vision.

This article was sponsored by Business Events Australia. Contact : Simon Gidman / Business Events Manager, UK/ Europe / T: +44 207 438 4633 / /





April 2, 2018

Africa, Ready to Leave Legacies

Jeffers Miruka is the President of the African Society of Association Executives (AfSAE), headquartered in Johannesburg. A man of wisdom and knowledge, he has over 10 years of combined experience in association management and the meetings industry. He shares with Boardroom his views on how Africa is developing fast, both as an association and a meetings destination.

Can you elaborate on the development of the African Society for Association Executives?

The Africa Society of Association Executives (AfSAE) was an idea whose time had come, and that could not be stopped. For several years, an informal group of African association executives – largely supported by the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) – meeting during the Meetings Africa’s Association Day, otherwise known as “Business Opportunities Networking Day (BONDay)” had canvassed about the need to stay connected with each other throughout their careers. This gained momentum during the build-up to the 10th anniversary of Meetings Africa in 2015.

During Association Day of 2015, I reinstated the subject during one of my presentations entitled “Why Africa needs an association for association leaders” by citing well-known examples from around the world such as the American Society of Association Executives or the Canadian Society of Association Executives. The association executives present that day eagerly bought the idea. After more deliberations, we setup an Establishment Committee of 23 individuals, representing associations and other interest groups. AfSAE was formally established in February 2016.

Since then, it has been a journey of faith, determination, commitment and purpose.

How do you see the future of Africa as congress destination evolving?

Africa has the potential to be the ideal backdrop and the next frontier for congresses and meetings, thanks to its growing infrastructure, ease of connectivity, a developing healthcare cluster, rich history and natural beauty.

In Africa, we now fully acknowledge that congresses promote destinations; they build the reputation of the host countries by building awareness and image to the visitors. They spur trade and investment by creating partnerships and collaborations through research and academic works. Conferences help to establish networks when people meet face-to-face. They disseminate knowledge as practitioners apply newly gained insights to enhance their professional practice, growth, and many more benefits.

Many African countries are currently investing in Convention Bureaus, modernizing the existing convention centres and building modern ones, increasing the number of accommodation rooms, overall improving our infrastructure. This is geared towards making Africa a destination of choice for congresses.

What can governments do to help the development of Africa in this area?

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda, 44 African heads of state and governments, representing their respective countries met and signed the now famous African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. This was a culmination of the Africa Union’s vision of establishing free trade and a single currency amongst member-nations. One of the main objectives of this agreement is to ultimately free movement of people and create a common currency.

The beauty of this long-awaited agreement is that it will open the skies, thus lower the cost of flying within Africa and accelerate growth of air services in the continent.

I believe this is by no doubt, it is to me, to this day, the most significant step ever taken by African governments to help its people and spur continental development. It was long overdue and I pray the bottlenecks of its implementation will be minimal, or none.

You are the executive director of the African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) as well, do you notice a need for a more global collaboration with other associations?  

I always speak about collaborations in my presentations. Associations are not in the business of competition, but rather coopetition, with the hope of mutually beneficial results. They are communities of people bound together by a common goal. If we don’t look at it from this perspective, we will lose the motivation of serving our members. And this always reminds me of my favorite quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who once opined that “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Jeffers Miruka was interviewed by Cécile Koch, Founder and Managing Partner of Boardroom /

March 26, 2018

The Incredible Impact of ISTH in Kyoto

Our partner The Iceberg is currently running a series of videos recorded at the event which celebrate “Incredible Impacts” and the wider effects meetings have on a destination and its region. The International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) won its grant for creating legacy through the World Thrombosis Day Campaign.

Placing a global spotlight on the often overlooked and misunderstood condition of thrombosis, the ISTH’s World Thrombosis Day campaign organised more than 8,200 events across the globe in 2016. The team demonstrated creative thinking in a number of ways, reaching beyond tourism, with one standout example being their annual Twitter Chat digital event. By creating a platform for people to talk about the condition, sharing expert advice and insights, the project garnered an impressive 45 million impressions worldwide.

This time, they focus on a different ISTH legacy project that was also submitted to “Incredible Impacts”: the holding of the society’s 2011 Congress and Annual SSC Meeting in Kyoto after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

Read and watch all about it here.

March 18, 2018

Australian Legacies: World AIDS in Melbourne

 Health and medical research spans a pipeline from concept to laboratory through to translation, clinical application and community benefit. It typically embraces a range of different disciplines, occurs in universities and hospitals, medical research institutes and companies, and in the community at large. It involves multiple professions, public and private entities and consumers. Australia is at the forefront of medical research and innovation, and high-profile conferences which have lasting legacies, as did World AIDS which took place in Melbourne in 2014, also partake of Australia’s influence on the global stage.

Words Rémi Dévé

Australian researchers, physicians and healthcare professionals have an excellent reputation and make a difference locally and globally. The country’s scientists have developed lifesaving discoveries, pioneered procedures, and been awarded Nobel Prizes – three researchers at the Australia National University’s John Curtin School of Medical Research have received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their extraordinary contributions to medicine. These highly-qualified professionals continue to lead work in emerging fields of science, and champion the adoption of new technologies, many of which have global impacts.

Bionic ear

Australia boasts world-class medical research and healthcare infrastructure. Every year, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies begin around 1,000 new clinical trials in Australia, meeting the highest quality and ethical standards. Clinical research is a focus for more than 40 Australian universities and 50 independent medical research institutes, with many working in collaboration. It’s these partnerships that have enabled Australia’s groundbreaking discoveries, including Gardasil®, a vaccine against human papillomavirus, and Relenza®, an antiviral drug used to treat influenza. Solutions such as the bionic ear and continuous positive airway pressure devices for sleep apnoea are also two Australian inventions that have transformed people’s lives around the world.

In this context, Australia is getting ready to respond to future challenges, including new health technologies, communicable diseases, and caring for an ageing population with complex and chronic health problems. Research is the best way to prepare for these challenges, as it contributes to health system safety and quality, ensure effectiveness of health interventions, and enable the country to develop better methods of preventing and treating disease.

“Australia’s track record of delivering exceptional association events is obviously a big part of why we are consistently chosen as the destination of choice to host medical/healthcare events. But I think our involvement in these events adds value in important other ways too through, for example, personal connections and the way our industry is able to connect thought leaders and innovators to our centres of knowledge and excellence, providing opportunity to truly create legacies that can also drive change,” says John O’Sullivan, Managing Director of Tourism Australia.

Australian cities are leveraging their knowledge and research capabilities in medical fields, for example, in order to secure major events and to realise the knowledge, investment, employment, and healthcare legacies – but not only – that can result from them. The 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), which took place in Melbourne after more than two years of extensive planning and preparation, might well be the epitome of this.

Attended by close to 12,000 delegates from 173 countries, the Conference was a platform for people working in the field of HIV, policy makers, persons living with HIV and individuals committed to ending the pandemic, to present new scientific knowledge and dialogue on the issues facing the global response to HIV. AIDS 2014 was the first ever International AIDS Conference to be held in Australia and provided a unique opportunity to explore the diverse nature of the local and regional response to HIV.

The International AIDS Society chose Melbourne as the host destination for its collaborative approach, strong support from the city, state and federal governments. The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) was, at the time, the only venue in Australia capable of hosting an event of this size and magnitude. The Conference utilised the entire facility – all 66,333 square metres of it, and the in-house technology team provided all tech requirements and equipment to facilitate more than 100 satellite events and uploaded 700 individual presentation sessions to the AIDS 2014 website.

To ensure delivery of a world-class event and a memorable experience for a large diversity of visitors more than 500 MCEC employees even participated in HIV/AIDS awareness training, in conjunction with the Victorian AIDS Council and Living Positive Victoria.

The full version of this article is available in the February issue of Boardroom, which you can download here.

March 7, 2018

Reinventing Medical Conventions in the Digital Age

Medical societies started to blossom in the early 1800’s. The aim was for their members to exchange knowledge and organise medical practice. Those were initially limited to countries, but, as science does not have frontiers, international societies soon began to burgeon as well, spreading scientific knowledge worldwide and initiating medical conventions.

In general, national medical associations hold conventions yearly, while the international ones do so every two to four years, rotating in different regions of the world. The interval between meetings usually gives enough time to build a body of new information worthwhile for participants to come and justifying the investment of substantial resources. The profitable business of conventions was thus born, fostering networking and scientific progress.

Besides showcasing the latest scientific discoveries, it then became necessary to promote the education of young doctors and regulate the expertise level of specialists. The educational boards of medical specialties became managed by national societies. Specialised medical societies were born with the need of branching general medicine into specialties fostered by the fast medical progress made all through the 20th century.

A bit of history

As medical societies were born and organised medicine progressed, humans experienced roughly the triplication in life expectancy. This improvement was witnessed in all continents, even in less wealthy areas of the world – a testament to the overall improvement of healthcare with the specialisation and the rapid dissemination of knowledge promoted by medical conventions and a well-organised medical sector worldwide.

Today all medical specialties have their corresponding meetings, whose mission is the exchange of information, the education of young doctors and the dissemination of new therapies, whether medical, surgical or technological. At one point, pharmaceutical and medical device companies became major sponsors of medical conventions starting to play an important role in medical education. There were days when conventions were highly subsidised by private companies.  The convention industry became profitable to all stakeholders – to the hosting cities through direct tourism benefits, to the delegates through education and to the companies that were hoping to introduce their products to the market. It was also a major win for the patients who benefitted from the outstanding medical progress that was showcased at those conventions.

While the dissemination of knowledge was dependent on the specialised press, the two- to four-year accumulation of knowledge justifying the holding of an international convention was reasonable, as the turnover of publications, be it medical journals with the need of peer review, or the production of textbooks, would take as much time to reach the reader. The presentation of the most recent findings in medicine was indeed dependent on conventions: the material presented at conventions would appear in the scientific press one to four years later; they would then be read by the scientific community at large, generating ideas, new discoveries and developments. This was a relatively long cycle in today’s standards!

Changing time frame

The time frame to spread knowledge has changed with the digital age. Today knowledge is produced and disseminated at a speed that traditional conventions cannot follow. What will happen with the old convention model, which most of us know? Will conventions become digital? Is this already happening? Convention stakeholders, starting with the sponsors, are questioning the  model based on expensive exhibition boots, placed in highly priced spaces. Additionally, lavish and expensive trips offered by exhibitors to attending doctors are no longer viewed as appropriate. As major device companies initiated, isn’t it less costly and more effective to bring doctors to be educated in their headquarters, where the demonstration of products is at hand and practical?

Compliance, a synonym for private corporations not being able to take up the expenses of conventions, is being dutifully enforced by government agencies. Will this regulation of doctors’ participation in conventions limit their attendance (or is it already doing so?), therefore slowing down the dissemination of science, which is so important for the evolution of medicine and patient care? Medical societies are already trying to overcome these barriers by promoting more and more digital education. The webinar industry is rapidly growing, as are free online journals, medical and surgery technique videos on YouTube, providing free learning to doctors, as well as advertisement opportunities to medical device and pharmaceutical companies.

This easy access to medical education is bringing medicine to a point where patients are as much – if not more! – informed about their own disease than the doctors who treat them. Does this information, which lays at everybody’s fingertips, as well the easiness of communication among peers yielded by the digital age, threaten conventions? Or is the need for direct human contact and networking strong enough to maintain its model? These are questions that will be answered in the following decades as digital education evolves.

The survival of international medical societies depends on their members. It is no longer enough to organise a convention every two to four years. Members and delegates need more pampering to accept registration fees, mostly because the information they seek can often be found outside the association itself. Continuous medical education, credentialing process, local courses, frequent webinars, access to libraries, forums directly helping in difficult medical cases are a few measures that can justify the enrolment and the retention of members, engaging them to participate in future conventions.

The remaining question is who will continue to pay for the costs related to doctors attending conventions in an environment where heavy taxes, profit-oriented health insurance companies, expensive drugs and medical devices, and failure of some governments to provide an effective healthcare system all have an impact on medical income in general. It becomes unaffordable for some doctors to participate in conventions, especially as there are so many potentially, of interest to them. Those are the very practitioners who will likely to embrace digital education.

It is possible that doctors’ participation to conventions will decrease, and so their expertise and, in turn, the quality of their care. Medical societies have to evolve with the digital age, enhancing their presence in the day-to-day life of their members, partnering with other related societies in a kind of multidisciplinary effort to decrease the number of conventions.

Antonio A.F. De Salles, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Neurosurgery and Radiation Therapy, Departments of Neurosurgery and Radiation Oncology, University of California Los Angeles, and Head & Founder, HCor Neuroscience, São Paulo. He is also President of the Ibero-Latin American Radiosurgery Society.  

References: / / / / Br Med J. 1936 Feb 29; 1(3921): 431. The History of the French Medical Association





February 28, 2018

Fostering Transformation in Bogotá

 As the political and economic capital of Colombia, Bogotá is one of the most dynamic cities in Latin America with 7.6 million inhabitants. The commitment to lead through transformative initiatives that call for the integration of society is mandatory, even more so now that Colombia is at a crossroads in its history as the nation is leaving behind more than 50 years of internal conflict. Attracting international events that have an impact is part of an overall strategy of change.

Words Rémi Dévé, with the Bogotá Convention Bureau

Working from the heart will always make a difference. If one is able to find a connection between people’s deepest desires to be part of something bigger, then transformation will take place. Events, no matter the sector, are always created with a larger purpose.

Associations can play an active role in this reconciliation process, consequently their events have that power of transformation and can align both members’ and delegates’ needs and those of destinations wanting to grow. Their events can activate a citizen movement, motivate people to create a link, involve the vulnerable population affected by conflicts, connect people to a larger purpose, and make them a reality in the short term.

In this context, Bogotá, led by its Convention Bureau, bid in 2015 and 2016, for two events that accomplished what the city and the country needed. The first event, One Young World Summit (OYW), engaged young people as key actors in different movements around the world, in the hope for them to participate in a historical moment of Colombia and have them “help create the country’s future”.  The purpose of the second event, the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, was to raise the level of dialogue around peace and contribute to the peace building process of the country.

Both events, which were held in Bogotá in 2017, help to:

Activate citizen movements: citizens were involved not only during the bid process but also during the event. For example, OYW and the city were hot topics on social media for the whole duration of the event and more than 47,000 persons from 7 countries were engaged in the Nobel Peace Prize Summit through livestreaming.

Involve the vulnerable population affected by conflicts: both events had an active participation of people affected by the conflict, including speakers who shared their story, but also attendees and volunteers.

Create a legacy: At the moment, OYW is measuring the impact of the projects regarding their contribution to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. On the other hand, the Permanent Secretariat of the Nobel Peace Summit, together with the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, is continuing the conversation with different foundations and the civil society.

Increase the level of dialogue around the meetings industry in the country: now, actors that are not directly related to the meetings industry, are aware of the power of events and how they can be used to achieve different types of purposes.

Create a strong network: at a destination level, creating ties between different actors (not only within the meetings industry) makes city bids more competitive thanks to the added value that all the actors can bring to the table.