Back In Person at the UIA Round Table in Brussels

25th May 2022

Organized twice a year, the UIA Europe Round Tables provide an opportunity to learn through networking and practice, and to meet other international and European associations to share experience and knowledge. In that regard, the 15th edition which took place at the Marriott Grand Place in Brussels last Friday didn’t disappoint.

Founded over 100 years ago, the Union of International Associations (UIA) is a research institute and documentation centre, based in Brussels. Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since over a century.

The UIA’s interlinked databases on international organizations, international meetings, and world problems and solutions are a powerful tool for understanding the complexity of global issues and the policy environment that can foster effective action. And that’s exactly what participants discussed during a whole day, designed as a mix of keynote speeches, roundtable discussions and workshop sessions.

The morning kicked off with a keynote from UIA President Cyril Ritchie, who asked the audience if, given the enormous diversity of associations and the wide scope of causes they represent, common standards and good practices are possible. The answer is yes: “Ethics, collaboration vs. competition and personal standards are three arenas of reflection that are stake in associations. If you’re truthful, cooperative, respectful of confidentiality, committed to excellence and open to discussion, you will grow as an organization,” stated Ritchie.

The UIA President’s workshop which followed up was all about the United Nations and its relevance to associations in general. It was illustrated with examples of collaboration (existing and potential) between UN bodies and associations, and indicated entry points.

Other popular sessions included one on social media trends by representatives of SEC Newgate who urged associations to rethink how to engage online effectively. The approach was hands-on with a lot of examples on how to communicate on the different social networks out there. Some quite innovative digital campaigns were shared with the audience, and tips and tricks were given so that you can increase your reach and position yourself as a thought-leader.

The session about the rethinking of the tendering process triggered heated debates among participants. Moderated by the two founders of Conferli, the discussions revolved around the factors to be incorporated in RFPs and how destinations and associations should work hand in hand to include topics such as sustainability, legacy and health and safety measures in them.

The next UIA Associations Round Table Europe will take place in Rotterdam on 24 & 25 November 2022.

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