Share and Co-create at the European Association Summit

5th March 2019

Already in its 7th year, the European Association Summit (EAS) was held last week at SQUARE – Brussels Convention Centre. The annual gathering for those representing international associations, it brought together about 200 participants under the theme “Share and Co-create.”

Challenges in a changing world

How to adapt to the rapidly changing world? How can we respond to new trends? How to face the digitalization of our organisations? How to effectively communicate? These were some of the questions that were addressed during an intense two-days of workshops, presentations, and other engaging sessions to which more than 30 associations had successfully submitted abstracts for.

New this year was definitely the level of engagement from the participants. If delegates listened to occasional one-way presentations, they were invited to actively participate in their colleagues’ workshops, and practical tips were shared during the sessions, covering subjects that include risk management, evacuating events, the development of communication campaigns or activities to involve young people in associations.

Nik Claesen, chairman of the EAS 2019, put it like this: “It is the role of associations to bring people together. Bringing people together in a context in which people are becoming more distant. We aim to be relevant not only to our members, but also to the entire community. Thanks to co-creation, our associations are becoming more important and relevant. We have lots to share with the world. The European Association Summit was a fantastic forum in which to exchange ideas and make new contacts.”

Particularly popular were sessions on the digitalization of associations, or the need for them to transform themselves digitally in order to create new services for their members using technology (“Choose hard and be agile” recommended speaker Audrey Benoit, of Brain & Belly), on strategies for growth (“Being glocal is the key – you have to expand globally while keeping in mind the local specificities” stated Matthew D’Uva, of the International Association for the Study of Pain), on how to communicate effectively. This last UIA-powered session had participants do short exercises and help them better define their organisation’s mission and vision.

Co-creation is key

In this regard, the co-creation aspect of this edition was well-woven into this year’s summit. Co-creation was indeed a key aspect during the sessions about community development, opening headquarters on other continents or dealing with the challenges of today’s environments. Thanks to the tremendous networking opportunities at the event, a learning culture has definitely developed over the years. EAS participants are people who wish to improve their skills and make progress so they can be better association professionals.

Worth noting is that this year also focus on sustainability. The intention was for the EAS to be an eco-friendly event. Participants received plenty of green tips for organising events and for daily use. As with many other initiatives in the Brussels-Capital Region, the focus is on sustainability and an environmentally-responsible attitude.

The European Association Summit is organised by the Association Bureau in collaboration with ESAE (European Society of Association Executives), FAIB (Federation of European & International Associations Based in Belgium), UIA (Union of International Associations) and GAHP (Global Association Hubs Partnership), the Solvay Brussels School in Economics & Management, PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association) and ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association).


This report was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé (

Hit enter to search or ESC to close