Association Meetings as Part of the Circular Economy

October 22, 2019

Association Meetings as Part of the Circular Economy

The Iceberg’s James Latham met up with Pier Paolo Mariotti while he was Faculty Director of the ECM Summer School in London this year. Pier Paolo shares interesting views on the circular economy and how it can rejuvenate convention bureaus as a result of wider industry seeing events as critical to their objectives. Bolzano, Italy, is testament, indeed, to the shift to the strategic role of research institutions and how they connect communities in science and such using ambassadors from these institutions to attract association meetings and the talent and funding they support for the region…

Capacity building in Bolzano from Fred Productions Ltd. on Vimeo.


October 17, 2019

Facilitating Interactions Between International Associations & Local Hosts

Can venues play a valuable role in bridging the divide that sometimes lies between the international associations and local hosts/chapters? This is what argues Angeline van den Broecke, Director of Global Business Development and Marketing, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Local hosts/chapters are often an integral factor in elevating the success of a major international congress. While international associations often take responsibility for providing the global perspective and organising the bulk of the programme, local associations have important input in terms of providing destination insights and flavour.

However, the capabilities and experience of local associations can vary wildly. In an ideal world the local host and global association will already be aligned in terms of vision and mission. But there is often a long delivery timeframe between when a bid is won by a destination host and when the congress execution takes place. Another dynamic that influences this relationship is when an intermediary such as an appointed PCO or Core PCO or AMC is involved.

Often the global association organisers, who are often full-time professionals may have different perspectives and expectations than their local counterparts. Host associations, often run by enthusiastic volunteers, may lack regular exposure to the organisation of events of this nature and scale. Communication issues (i.e. cultural and language differences) can also contribute to varied expectations, which can hinder the organisation and ultimate success of the congress.

Building Engagement

In our experience, venues can play a meaningful and valuable role in bridging the divide between the international associations and local hosts/chapters. Venues are often dealing with the local associations/hosts on their national or regional events and have a fairly good understanding of the status of the local association and the primary influences and local players. In addition, interpretation with respect to cultural nuances and local business practice are often an area where the Centre is used as a connector.

In destinations where a city bureau may not exist, such being the case in Kuala Lumpur, the venue is required to often provide a myriad of destination information and a support interface beyond the norm and to work as a partner, not a supplier. This is one of the reasons the Centre set up the Kuala Lumpur Business Events Alliance (KLCCBEA) with a primary focus on providing a one stop solution to support Meeting and Event Planners.

In this respect, the Centre ultimately provides social value; as a partner that maintains a cumulative history, and business intelligence after many years of engagement and execution and client relationship management.

Venues can assist by sharing key learnings and best practices from previous successful events and really get to understand the different complexities and success factors across different demographics, geographies and sector specific demand drivers and to share this knowledge both ways can truly influence the success of the working relationships between all parties.

Case in point: the 29th. International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) 2019, held at the Centre in July. As the Society of Conservation Biology’s (SCB) Executive Director, Dr Debborah Luke, comments: “ICCB is quite a challenging congress to manage because you have the international organisation trying to guide from their global perspective; the steering committee handling the scientific content; and the local chapter, who are generally the organising committee taking care of the on-ground management and ensuring there is a Malaysian flavour included in the event. Trying to integrate and make sure all three parties are on the same page at the same time can be quite tricky. What we learnt from our experience is making sure you define very clear roles, manage expectations and set realistic outcomes for everybody involved.”

By sharing these kind of insights venues can help ensure global associations and local chapters are aligned and better prepared to plan their own international events. “We relied heavily on the venue to provide ideas when we needed input and a business perspective beyond the scope of the local host association,” says Dr Luke.“This related to how we could connect to local business chambers, what innovative ways a previous congress of a similar nature used to boost local participation, and to look at a western vs. a local perspective of the role F&B plays throughout the event. These were just a few examples that helped us to adjust and adopt flexibility once we were on the ground.”

The World Federation of Hemophilia’s (WFH) Director, Congress & Meetings, Jeremias Rodriguez, CMP, who is currently in the process of organising the WFH World Congress 2020 at the Centre, also shares his perspective: “Firstly, use technology to collaborate and share documents to help you communicate in real-time and more effectively. Increasing the number of face-to-face meetings will also help you tremendously to create stronger bonds between parties. Lastly, greater collaboration between the local convention bureau and the chapter is crucial, so they are aware of all the resources available to them.”

In this instance the Centre has really become a marketing and promotions partner of the event and a resource to connect the federation to several local entities and to facilitate and guide some of the engagement when it has been difficult to gain access to the decision maker.

Cultural Nuances

There are a variety of unique characteristics and cultural factors to take into account when organising events in different regions around the world.

As Dr Luke adds, “Local chapters may not have the time and resources to fully analyse the audience and, as a result, cultural norms can be overlooked. For example, in Malaysia we noticed that the variety and amount of food on offer was larger than expected, which caused concerns for some international participants. In Asia, the offering would not be considered out of place, but due to the profile of our attendees it was something we could have altered, or better communicated. In these kinds of scenarios, the venue has the opportunity to play a larger role in offering advice to ensure nothing is missed.”

Of course, knowledge transfer is a two-way street. Insights also have to be passed from local chapters to international associations, and venues can help facilitate this. As the National Cancer Society of Malaysia’s (NCSM) Vice President, Clare Ratnasingham, who was a key member of the national organising committee for the World Cancer Congress 2018, shares: “One of the biggest factors that needs to be addressed by international and national associations alike is cultural differences. Every country or region moves at their own pace. For example, some countries face additional challenges in terms of government or bureaucratic regulations and others deal with the tendency of event registrations being very last minute, amongst many others. As such, there needs to be greater understanding and flexibility towards these differences. In the end, it is all about trust and communication.”

A Sustainable Legacy

By collecting and sharing these golden nuggets of feedback and experience, venues can help educate and guide international associations in developing their communications and relations with local chapters.

The Centre’s General Manager, Alan Pryor, concludes: Like any relationship, communication is key and venues are often the central lynchpin between all parties. As such, we have an ability to open up dialogue to ensure everyone is well informed. Relationships are our most important asset and by utilising this and our experience, built up over many years, we can help facilitate and foster better bonds between international associations and local chapters, which will in turn result in more successful events.”


October 9, 2019

How a Liver Meeting Can Impact Local Communities

The British Association for the Study of the Liver (BASL) held its annual meeting from 17th – 20th September at the University of Strathclyde Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow. BASL is dedicated to advancing knowledge and understanding of the biology and pathology of the liver for the optimal care of patients.

Aiming to take the subject matter outside of the conference walls into the public, BASL partnered with the British Liver Trust, the UK’s leading liver health charity, and Glasgow Convention Bureau to bring the Love Your Liver Roadshow to Glasgow city centre for two days on the 18th and 19th September.

The Love Your Liver public awareness event gave individuals the opportunity to take the Liver Health Screener, which assesses the potential for liver damage against the three main risk factors of alcohol, obesity and viral hepatitis. Some participants were then offered a non-invasive liver check with a FibroScan machine, the scan then gave an indication of any liver damage and, depending on the result, a GP visit was recommended.

The first day of the engagement initiative saw the Love Your Liver roadshow located on Argyle Street, one of the city’s busiest shopping streets. 71 members of the public took the liver screener test, with 63 then being scanned with the FibroScan machine and 1 in 5 people being advised to visit their GP.

Day two saw the Love Your Liver team bring the Roadshow to the University of Strathclyde Technology and Innovation Centre during the University’s Fresher’s Week, when hundreds of first year students start their University career, an ideal opportunity to talk to students about their liver health! 89 individuals were screened on day two, 85 of which were also scanned with the FibroScan machine which resulted in 14 people being recommended a GP visit.

Love Your Liver

Over the two days of the Love Your Liver Roadshow the team engaged directly with 160 members of the public, with 17% of those who were scanned being advised to visit their GP for further checks. All participants received free information packs which included advice and insight on how to Love Your Liver with personalised lifestyle tips based on the screener results.

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Communications and Policy at the British Liver Trust said:“One in three of us are at risk of liver disease and the numbers of people being diagnosed have been increasing at an alarming rate. Liver damage develops silently with no signs or symptoms and people often don’t realise they have a problem until it is too late. Although the liver is remarkably resilient, if left until symptoms appear, the damage is often irreversible.”

She continued: “The British Liver Trust was delighted to be at the University of Strathclyde Technology and Innovation Centre, together with the British Association for the Study of the Liver (BASL), to promote and raise awareness of liver disease to students, academics and the public. The event highlighted important research and innovation in liver care. The Convention Bureau’s support allowed us to showcase our Love Your Liver Roadshow enabling people to find out their risk of liver disease and receive a free non-invasive scan. Approximately 20% of the people we saw on the roadshow need to have further checks from their GP. This is conference legacy in action.”

October 1, 2019

Today’s Business Events Serve Tomorrow’s Generation

What is the real power of association conferences? The hot topic has become part of the core of Business Events Sarawak or BESarawak (formerly Sarawak Convention Bureau) that is now looking beyond the narrow limits of business tourism financial benefits. Malaysia’s biggest state and second-tier conference destination with rapidly-increasing popularity has recently expanded its focus towards the social impact and remote legacy meetings can leave behind.

BESarawak’s Redefining Global Tribes (RGT) campaign began in 2017 and has received much praise among the meetings industry experts putting out tribal values of community, identity and unity. The innovative campaign has helped Sarawak win a place both in conference organizers and delegates’ hearts alike as the state has been moving up the rankings of the global market.

According to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA)’s global ranking report released in May, Malaysia is ranked 9thin the region with Sarawak being a huge contributor in the nation’s success, while Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, shot to #32 on the city rankings. Such great success means only the beginning of progressive ideas and values for the state, who is yet again rising to the challenge of a new era.

New year, new focus

The start of 2019 found the bureau with a new name, image and a diverse focal point which heightens the intangible payback of business events. Not so long ago business events were assessed merely by delegate expenditure on travelling, shopping, commuting, eating and sleeping. BESarawak’s contribution has reached over RM720 million in total since 2006.

The economic impact is only the facade of what business events can offer society. BESarawak is now eager to demonstrate that the power of knowledge and the power of associations and academia can advance research, science and innovation. Using the global network of an international association new talent will flood in the country creating clusters and higher standards for any industry.

Chief Operating Officer of BESarawak, Amelia Roziman, shares that “BESarawak’s focus this year is on advocating legacy impact in every business event held in this state. This means looking beyond the economic input and expanding our focus to the significance of conferences through the promotion and usage of knowledge exchanged to have a positive effect on various areas of sectors. Asides from sharing knowledge and expanding our education outcomes, we are also measuring business events’ capability to enhance future research capacities and fundraising opportunities, and whether it can reform public policies or even create new ones.”

 The visionary target will not be achieved without close collaboration and support. Business Events Sarawak and the Sarawak government have placed 7 Key Focus Areas (KFAs) as crucial factors, namely Urban Development & Redevelopment (inclusive of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy), Social, Environmental and Agricultural Development plus Service Industry and Digital Economy. These distinctive elements of community growth are set to trigger a domino effect of impactful motions in their respective areas in favour of the state and the nation.

“Associations are vying for a bigger purpose that is closely linked to their objectives, hence government support is unquestionably vital,” Amelia emphasizes. “Regardless of which market we are aiming for (this year we have set our sights on ASEAN countries, Australia and Europe), the support that is received from the government such as local government agencies and industry partners is undivided.” This support is prominent in every step of the way, even before bidding begins, making the planning of a conference as smooth as it gets.

In fact, Sarawak is creating a win-win situation with its Legacy Impact Programme. Through helping associations fulfil their ‘bigger purpose’ and leave a legacy by leveraging from this support, the state reaps the benefits of economic growth and knowledge influx, which in turn leads to better standard of living for the future generations.

Four major pillars of legacy impacts laid out by BESarawak are meant to vest more power to business events in order to extract their full value and drive change. These pillars are identified as Advancing the Field, Economic Outcomes, Community Benefits and Public Policy. The first assigns the leading role to local associations and global networking, which will lead to wider trade opportunities and industrial development. Cultural, social and public welfare outcomes can be achieved for the community, which in turn can also benefit by policy changes.

The forward-looking mentality is already taking root in Malaysia. Conferences such as the 2019 Borneo Coffee Symposium and the 8thInternational Conference on Bioprocessing, both held recently in Sarawak, have had tangible effects in their respective sectors.

The 2019 Borneo Coffee Symposium

Business events had the sweet taste of coffee on 6 and 7 April this year during the very first Borneo Coffee Symposium, held at the Old Court House in Kuching. Over 250 renowned coffee scientists as well as experienced coffee farmers and estate owners gathered in East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, all sharing the same purpose: to show the world the potential of high-quality coffee cultivation in the area in a sustainable way.

Organized by Earthlings Coffee Workshop, the Symposium was the first of its kind to be held in Borneo and aimed to find the possibilities to produce a sustainable coffee cultivation model in rainforests. Particularly, to solve the lowland and warmer climate challenges by introducing the right species and varieties of coffee and introducing the knowledge of modern coffee cultivation to the Sarawak state.

Coffee cultivation in Sarawak has been growing rapidly, but the local tribes need the right guidance and knowledge in order to enter the global market successfully. The Symposium managed to do just that; well-known speakers and international coffee education systems such as “CoffeeCraftsman Education” from Germany, which was brought to Sarawak right after the Borneo Coffee Symposium, provided tailor-made support for local coffee growers.

Events like the “Liberica Coffee Roasting Competition” and “Cross-Species Coffee Cupping” that happened during the Symposium were also organized to support the direction of the right coffee species for the region. Dr. Kenny Lee Wee Ting, founder of Earthlings Coffee Workshop, believes that “with proper coffee education and the thorough understanding of the global coffee market, coffee is a type of environmentally-friendly crop that would benefit Sarawak not only financially, but also in terms of helping to protect our natural environment.”

The Symposium made great impact within the government. The Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development has already increased financial investment for coffee planting and is now looking into socio-economic benefits for farmers in crop diversification, moving from subsistence to specialty production, recognition of farmer identity and their contribution to labour and identity of state too.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Sarawak government represented by Department of Agriculture Sarawak (DOA) and Earthlings Coffee Workshop on the last day of the Symposium proves the point of collaboration and mutual benefit deriving from business events. Based on BESarawak’s drivers, the acquired knowledge and skills gained at the Symposium provides a platform for the formation of new associations in the industry with the goal to educate the younger generation and put Borneo on the world’s coffee map.

The immediate impact of the Symposium is indisputable as every coffee related business segments in Sarawak or even entire Malaysia will benefit from the rise of local grown coffee independent of brand identity or cost considerations. In the long run, such a knowledge intensive symposium will stir the waters for coffee players in Malaysia, forcing them to update their products and market knowledge in order to catch up with the international competition. According to Dr. Lee “this would lead to a healthier competition throughout the whole coffee industrial chain in Sarawak. If everyone in the industry demand better quality coffee and have the knowledge to produce it, they will surely work with the local farmers to reach the desired result.”

The full version of this article, written by Boardroom editor Vicky Koffa, is available in the September issue of Boardroom. The right to use this article, in part or in full, has to be granted by the Publisher.

September 20, 2019

Incredible Impacts Third Year Winners

The Incredible Impacts Programme, now in its third year, run collaboratively by ICCA and BestCities Global Alliance, has selected three winning associations as leading examples of excellence within the global meetings industry. An independent panel of industry experts selected the winners of this year’s Incredible Impacts grant as the European Lung Foundation in conjunction with European Respiratory Society, the International AIDS Society and the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

The three associations from across the globe will each receive a grant worth US $7,500 towards future projects, in recognition of their hosted events excelling in areas such as legacy development, diversity and accessibility.

Paul Vallee, Managing Director of BestCities said: “This year’s Incredible Impacts Programme submissions have been shining examples of innovative thinking and diversity in the meetings industry, demonstrating the impact and legacy we can leave behind us – particularly with the way each of them engaged with the younger generation.”

September 11, 2019

Managing Your Legacy Projects

In this fourth installment of our #MEET4IMPACT series, Geneviève Leclerc explores the second – out of four – key step needed to achieve a successful impact practice. After defining your initial intention, how do you manage your social impact project? How do you move from theory to action?

When discussing legacy or impact, one is immediately faced with the prevailing discourse that there is an immediate need for measurement. But while impact measurement is necessary to communicate the value generated by one’s actions and justify return on investment from partners investing time and money, it is mostly possible as a result of a well-planned and executed impact management strategy. This article will focus on the key pre-measurement steps that will set the stage for unrolling a robust strategy.

Earlier in July, we discussed how formulating an initial intention of impact with clear desired outcomes would enable an organization to articulate S.M.A.R.T. objectives, while targeting what can be measured and what your organisation can claim responsibility for. We also outlined the crucial efforts in mapping and mobilizing a broad range of stakeholders who have vested interest in what our organization is trying to  achieve, and provided guidelines on how to build a logic model enabling us to go from an initial intention of creating impact to identifying all the necessary steps needed to fulfill our objectives.

Assign roles and train your stakeholders

When developing a project and wanting to generate measurable outcomes, it is crucial to engage all interested stakeholders to become facilitators, motivated actors that will help us overcome barriers and yield results.

Let’s look at a fictitious example of an association working in mental health promotion amongst vulnerable demographic groups. It is holding its annual conference in a country where there is a need to build local capacity in the subject matter, support advocacy efforts, so that local organizations operating in that field achieve sufficient funding, and finally develop better training courses. This particular association wishes to develop and deliver a project in that city that would address those needs and create lasting impact, and ultimately would like to be able to measure and communicate the results of this project to a broad range of interested groups.

When doing a stakeholder mapping exercise, the organization would first identify the small team comprised of representatives from the organization (who owns the event) and the leaders of the local organizing committee and the institutions they represent. The representatives from the city’s convention bureau are most likely involved in the project, and potentially the local and regional health authorities as well. The association will also count on the in-house and external professionals involved in delivering and managing the activities around the event.

Then there is a group of stakeholders who are very close to the project and who will be essential in validating various assumptions and initiatives: they are representing the target populations benefitting from the impact of your project and the local or national organizations delivering services to them. In addition, there should be teams tasked with the communication and the sharing of the value around the efforts and the results at various stages of the project, both within the organization and at the level of the local convention bureau and hosting institutions. And, last but not least, there are what we could call the “investigators”, i.e. the individuals involved in data collection and data assessment that will allow the measurement and reporting of the impact.

Each group of stakeholders can be both an enabler and a beneficiary of the impact project, and during the management phase, they would be involved, identifying what their interest is, what they can gain, what they can provide in terms of engagement or resources, and what their role during the project should be. The people directly involved or affected are often the ones that are the most motivated, so your responsibility is to educate them appropriately so that they are comfortable with your objectives, goals, and methodology.

Need help in developing your legacy project?

Meet4impact isa global not-for-profit aiming to build a community passionate about social impact in our sector, helping organisations increase their capacity to generate impact through their activities, deliver more value on their mission and implement positive change.

Keep looking out for updates on social media following the #Meet4impact/ #Associations4impact/ #Cities4Impact keywords; check out our website; or write to us at to tell us your story.

At #MEET4IMPACT, we have developed several formats of stakeholder workshops, or “impact bootcamps” to deliver basic training on what social impact is and engage your leadership, immediate team and stakeholders in interactive learning experiences. We deliver these as part of stand-alone educational activities or of longer-term impact projects.  Our workshops offer various levels of capacity-building depending on the audience, their roles and the scope of the project.

Plan your project with an outcome-focused perspective

When considering developing a project to generate and measure your impact, keep in mind that a social impact approach should be embedded as part of ongoing planning and must complement already existing activities and programs, thus aiming to enhance the mission of your organization and its core value offering.

This means you should build an implementation schedule as well as a communication calendar for your impact project. This will help secure responsibilities so that each stakeholder knows their role, involvement, tasks, the time it will take and the contingency plan if there is a problem. It will also serve to build a story to highlight the value that has been generated by the impact project.

Here, the logic model that you have built in Phase 1 comes handy, as it shows a plausible, clear, logical flow to describe how the planned intervention intends to contribute to the desired change, without any leaps of faith or gaps in logic. The difference between traditional project management as most of us have learned it, and using the logic model to map project steps, is the direction that one adopts when laying out the different steps. In activity-based project management, teams assess resources at hand compared to the outputs they must produce and lay out the activities that are feasible and desirable. In outcome-driven management, project managers are being asked to ensure that their projects are strategically aligned with expectations for very specific outcomes, and the chain is built by working backwards from outcomes to activities.

Which also means that success is not evaluated based on the delivery of the activity (as a vast majority of current initiatives are) but based on its effectiveness at delivering the expected outcomes. Reporting success with traditional performance indicators such as “we held activity or campaign X and Y number of people attended” will no longer be sufficient when ones adopts an impact frame of mind. The tracking, evaluation and reporting of success becomes entirely focused on the change (impact) that was generated, and the activity is a necessary, albeit insufficient, step to achieving this.

Select indicators

Once you have identified the chain of events that the conference will be putting in place, you can identify the potential impacts of these activities, as well as all the “high-impact areas”, i.e. the ones that will yield higher impact for lower effort. These areas are the ones that need to be measured. There are many ways that one can demonstrate that impact has occurred, and a successful legacy project would reveal indicators and results across a spectrum of methods.

We use four major methods to report on the creation of social value, or impact: 1) Storytelling, using qualitative information to relate how changed has happened and how it has affected positively those experiencing it; 2) through indicators that compile quantitative metrics and compare these results over time or against others; 3) quantifying the economic value of your action through generating an increase in well-being, health, quality of life or in any other social gain, done mostly with the help of the Social Return On Investment (SROI) framework; and 4) using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its set of indicators on report on the social progress achieved.

Assess and manage risk

Risk management in the context of social impact generation is paramount considering the quantity and diversity of the actors involved as well as the time it takes to collect data. Assessing and mitigating risks is not a one-time occurrence but should be an ongoing and iterative process and requires that one re-evaluates the risks while the project is underway. When assessing potential risks, the organization must emit a hypothesis of the likeliness that the risk occurs and the potential consequences if it does and draft a contingency plan for this.

In the case of a first-time impact project, when initiating practice, we recommend that organizations be particularly diligent in a) determining needs and expectations on the front end, and b) its allocation of resources and responsibilities regarding data collection and analysis at the other end, because this is likely where the biggest risks lie.

This article was written by Boardroom partner Genevieve Leclerc. The right to use, part or all of it in subsequent works has to be granted by the Publisher.

September 5, 2019

How to Pioneer a Green Spirit

Calling Berlin a “green” capital is an understatement. The city’s largest park, Tiergarten, sprawls right across the center—and is even home to a boating lake, beer gardens and the Berlin Zoo. But to see beyond the “cool” Berlin that everyone’s talking about, we needed to stroll the city’s streets ourselves. And Meeting Place Berlin – a mega fam trip organized by Visit Berlin every two years – was a real eye-opener in terms of how green meetings are treated in the city. Sustainability isn’t an illusive concept in Berlin – the whole city is seriously focused on organizing events that truly make a difference for everyone involved.

The Berlin Convention Office of visitBerlin has launched a dedicated programme for meeting planners whose vision aligns with that of the German capital. The aim: become one of the most innovative and sustainable destinations for events of all sizes and formats.

The idea is to make life easier for planners, so they have all the information they need on Berlin’s sustainable options—including hotels, venues, convention centres and any supplier who is a member of Berlin’s strong partner network. To ease the process, the Berlin Convention Office set up a Sustainable Meetings Berlin online platform earlier this year where associations can find all kinds of information relating to sustainable conferences, congresses, meetings and events in Berlin.

“Our vision is to make Berlin one of the most sustainable congress destinations in Europe,” says Iris Lanz, Director Conventions, visitBerlin, Berlin Convention Office. “That’s an ambitious goal – and it can only be achieved with our many partners in the city. But we have gained large-scale support on a political level, and it really helps to make a difference.”

In addition to sustainable options, planners are strongly encouraged to plan sustainably. “Our online platform is clearly a unique development that allows us to support planners and provide them with the right services and information every step of the way,” Lanz explains. “For example, we have collected tips on how every event can be made greener. At the moment, such services are still niche products in the meetings industry. But Sustainable Meetings Berlin has started spotlighting them, which has raised our profile as a ‘different’ convention destination.”

Green spaces

In Berlin, there are plenty of venues that have received the city’s green stamp of approval. For instance, the Umweltforum (which translates to ‘environmental forum’), a former church near Alexanderplatz (pictured below), is a flagship project when it comes to ecological building that can host events for up to 400 people. A photovoltaic system and a combined heat and power unit (CHP) produces electricity for the building, while the façade is composed of a giant solar panel. The building is equipped with other environmentally friendly devices, too, like a condensing gas boiler and loam-rendered walls. In fact, 100 percent of the electricity in the conference rooms is produced via renewable energy sources—and there are 10 beehives on the roof.

Even the capital’s largest hotel, Hotel Berlin, Berlin doesn’t take sustainability lightly. Crowning a street corner in the city centre, the hotel has a modern look—and a modern outlook. As one of only five hotels to be a certified partner of Berlin’s Sustainable Meetings initiative, the hotel boasts impressive eco-conscious credentials. And it’s easy to go green when travelling with public transport on the metro to the hotel, too. As a Green Key label holder – which means the hotel follows strict criteria set by the Foundation for Environmental Education – it’s a great choice for sustainable events, since it features 48 meeting rooms — the largest of which accommodates up to 550 people.

Aside from using renewable energies (including the required 10 percent by Green Key, produced by its own rooftop photovoltaic system), Hotel Berlin has implemented a number of water and energy-saving measures. It also continually monitors its carbon footprint, pollution causers, and waste, looking for ways to reduce CO2emissions and consumption.

These hotels are only two of the many examples. Since sustainability in event planning is now a must, Berlin is a city where planners are truly spoiled for choice. “Our congress and event sector is rich in resources and personnel, and for that reason alone it bears a special responsibility—and that is a strong factor in Berlin’s commitment to sustainability,” Lanzsays. “With Sustainable Meetings Berlin, we can pursue a path to greater sustainability.” 

Contact | – This article was written by Boardroom chief editor Remi Deve The right to use, part or all of it in subsequent works has to be granted by the Publisher.

Umweltforum Berlin copyright visitBerlin, Dirk Mathes

August 29, 2019

Dubai Association Conference 2019: A Dialogue for Change

During the Dubai Association Conference 2017, participating associations and speakers discussed an important topic for further consideration: how to gain new insights and knowledge on the impact generated by their association’s main activities. Now, two years later, the second edition of the conference, which will be held 9-10 December at the Dubai World Trade Centre,is looking to address these questions head-on, with a focus on the larger role that associations play in global society—offering the tools attendees need to drive forward real change that will significantly bolster “the societal impact of associations.”

In our July issue, we briefly introduced the two-day conference and the first of its four pillars, which were designed to help participants develop a cohesive, systematic approach to creating long-lasting impact in their industry.

According to conference program curator Geneviève Leclerc, CMP, president of Caravelle Strategies and co-founder and CEO of #Meet4impact, the Dubai Association Centre is offering education and inspiration through the conference, to give participants –  association executives from around the world, government representatives, industry leaders, as well as university faculties and students- a better understanding of the true value generated by associations (beyond direct and indirect economic gains). They will learn how to better communicate the positive outcomes of their activities for their communities; deliver a better return on public investments; and become more ingrained in the knowledge clusters and communities where they could directly serve as drivers of positive change.

Last December, the Dubai Association Centre hosted its first Association Leaders Getaway, a four-day event that brought together 25 participants from local, regional and international associations, in addition to Dubai Government representatives, university students and academics. The goal: curate themes and topics for the upcoming Dubai Association Conference.

“Following the inaugural Dubai Association Conference, the city has witnessed a marked increase in interest from association representatives, both regionally and globally,” explains Issam Kazim, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, in reference to the Centre’s growth of 38 percent last yearThe Association Leaders Getaway was an effort to harness this interest and create a platform for association executives to network, share knowledge and best practice, in an engaging setting, beyond the confines of meeting rooms. The Getaway was an invaluable experience for all attendees, while being a crucial step forward in our city’s evolution.”

Pillars of success

Over the course of two days, Dubai Association Conference 2019 will be built around four pillars: Impact and Legacy — Key Concepts; Designing an Impact Management and Measurement Programme; Organizational Resilience and Foresighting; and The Art of Collaboration. Each session will explore at least one of four areas of impact: Community Well-being, Business and Opportunities, Knowledge and Research, or Creativity and Innovation.

In the post-conference proceedings following the Dubai Association Conference in 2017, the importance of collaboration in building communities was one of the key takeaways. These collaborations should involve as many stakeholders as possible, even going beyond local geographies,” explained Hassan Al Hashemi, Vice President of International Relations, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Associations are among the biggest contributors of economic growth and business activity globally, and they are crucial for generating the flow of innovative and creative ideas that can add value to our society.”

Through Pillar 2, Designing an Impact Management and Measurement Programme, sessions will focus specifically on impact evaluation and indicators, answering the question, “How can impact be created by associations through their programs and activities for individuals; for the organization; and for the broader community?”

The pillar will combat the challenge the association sector has faced in terms of creating an impactful methodology for impact assessment. The current issue is that there aren’t any benchmarks to serve as reference points of clear framework that demonstrate the cause-to-effect relationships that generate change.Case studies will shed light on how some associations are currently creating their own successful framework. By looking at these impact projects, representatives of each organization will be given a voice to share how they’re actively engaged in strategies that aim to create more social value for their members and the community they serve. The city of Dubai will even act as living proof of how a smart platform can lead by example in demonstrating the role of technology as pivotal in a changing world.

“From discussing how to define indicators and metrics to measuring social impact, to exploring how we can use design thinking methodology for greater impact, the sessions in this track serve to convert theory into action and provide actionable tools to participants,” Leclerc explains. “A number of business cases will be presented over the different sessions, which can be approached from various angles, but will lead to the understanding of how the association sector can develop a cohesive and systematic approach to creating large-scale impact.”

Future foresight

Associations are facing stronger disruptions than ever, and, in order to succeed in a rapidly changing environment, they need to have clarity on their long-term strategies, building on their strengths and tackling their weaknesses. This is where Pillar 3—Organizational Resilience and Foresighting—comes into play. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Resilience is a broad concept, centred on the ability not only to resist and recover from adverse shocks, but also to ‘bounce back’ stronger than before and to learn from the experience. For organizations, this entails understanding the sources of risks and opportunities, and learning to cope with uncertainty. It also involves equipping people with the competences and support necessary to take best advantage of the changing circumstances in which they find themselves.”

In this regard, “boards need to allot dedicated time to scanning the horizon and contemplating how existing or emerging trends could impact the profession or industry and the organization,” says plenary speaker Gregg Talley. “This ‘foresight’ is critical to understanding and planning and is integral to their role as volunteer leaders. We will explore what this looks like and the value it brings to associations.”

Throughout interactive sessions, participants will be broken up into smaller teams to identify what the phrase “indicators of impact” means at various levels, and design a program that aligns with their association’s purpose and changing needs of their members. By working in cross-functional teams, attendees will have the chance to solve real-life problems through collaboration and innovation.

Hazel Jackson, CEO of Dubai-based Biz Group, will serve as moderator for a plenary session called “Survival of the Fittest,” helping associations prepare for change by learning how to recognizing threats and the signals of change and plan for both the expected and unexpected. By analysing the concept of “Foresighting,” participants will learn adaptability while understanding how to implement local strategies that are scalable globally and initiate sector-wide responses to external disruptors. This pillar will also hone in on how—and why—organizations should use technology like blockchain and big data to create greater impact in their work and service delivery. As Leclerc puts it:“Our aim is to demonstrate that organizational resilience and planning for change is a core strategy for achieving impact and a powerful response to the pressure that associations are facing on their quest for relevancy.”

For further information regarding registration, please contact Mr. Junjie Si via or visit

This article, whose extended version will be available in the September issue of Boardroom,  was written by Boardroom editor Lane NiesetThe right to use, part or all of it in subsequent works has to be granted by the Publisher.

August 21, 2019

How to Decolonize a Conference

New Zealand gave The Australasian Animal Studies Association (AASA) Conference 2019, ‘Decolonizing animals’, an original spin when it hosted the event in Christchurch, July 1-4, 2019, as Annie Potts, Director of the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies (NZCHAS), explains.

Why bring AASA to Christchurch?

The Australasian Animal Studies Association’s biennial conference had not yet been held in Aotearoa, even though New Zealand-based scholars are dedicated members.

The New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies (NZCHAS) at Canterbury University is the only research and teaching hub in this specialized field of study in the Southern Hemisphere; we also offer the only full programme in Human-Animal Studies courses (from 100 level right through to PhD level).

This was a really important opportunity to host local and international specialists in this interdisciplinary area, to show them what NZCHAS and UC offers in terms of teaching, postgraduate and academic research opportunities, and to showcase how Christchurch is the leading city for HAS in Australasia.

Can you explain about the theme and the design of the event.

The conference theme was Decolonizing Animals. It explored how colonial politics and histories have shaped, and continue to shape, the contemporary worlds of humans and other animals. We designed, planned and ran the conference according to bicultural kaupapa (principles) with a plant-based animal-centred twist. All delegates received information about tikanga Māori (customary practices) ahead of the conference so that correct protocols were maintained throughout the event. And our vegan kaupapa ensured that this was an animal-friendly event.

The conference committee comprised Māori, Pākehā and tauiwi scholars, and we were concerned to ensure that the event was a non-hierarchical, intersectional and inclusive event – only first and last names appeared on badges, no-one’s title or ‘status’ in academia was displayed.

“Indigenous perspectives on human-animal relations were prioritized — we invited Māori keynotes from different iwi in Aotearoa, as well as keynote speakers with Mohawk and Aztec heritage from the USA and Mexico respectively.

Although AASA conferences tend to be primarily academic conferences, one of our goals was to also decolonize the academy itself, so we also invited keynotes who were animal advocates in their communities, as well as experts in indigenous plant-based practices. For example, one keynote session focusing on Latin American perspectives featured a lead campaigner against bullfighting from Colombia (Terry Hurtado) followed by an expert on indigenous plant-based food from Mexico (Wvtko Tristan) who prepared a traditional Aztec plant-based meal as part of his presentation.

“We were especially keen to make students feel welcome and to this end one of our doctoral students arranged a postgraduate workshop on Critical Animal Studies and Intersectionality which was led by one of our keynote speakers from the USA.”

So there was a host of benefits for everybody…

“Canterbury University benefited from this event in some very direct ways. As a result of this opportunity to showcase what NZCHAS offers we have now been approached by graduate students from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, Central America and Mexico about undertaking doctoral research in Human-Animal Studies at UC in the future.

Moreover, we have been invited to participate in international exchanges such as the Erasmus+ teaching programme (between European universities and UC) and host international scholars at our centre who have won prestigious European postdoctoral and other academic grants. Specialist networks also emerged during the conference comprised of scholars and animal advocates from across the globe.

Since this event I have also been contacted by a publishing business in Cambridge, UK, that wants to publish a collation of papers from the conference.

August 14, 2019

Healthy Legacies for the World’s Largest Cardio Congress

It’s hard not to conjure up clichés when it comes to organising a conference in Paris. The ‘City of Light’, as it is often referred to, is one of the international meeting capitals par excellence, drawing thousands of tourists and delegates from around the world every year. A glorious city renowned for its historical heritage, awe-inspiring architecture and café culture, among many more attractions, it is also where things can get big, as they will for the European Cardiology Congress which will be held in conjunction with the World Congress of Cardiology this summer.

The numbers speak for themselves.As Europe’s preeminent healthcare and life sciences region, the Paris area hosts a multitude of research institutes, international corporations and pharmaceutical laboratories. 1,000+ life sciences organizations, 300+pharmaceutical companies, 200+biotech companies, and360+ medical technology companies… the list can go on and on. Home to Europe’s largest hospital networkand Europe’s largest hospital, the Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris and its surrounding region are a world-class research centre, with 11,800 life sciences researchers andglobally renowned institutions like the Pasteur Institute, Curie Institute, the Gustave Roussy cancer research centre, or INSERM (the French institute of health and medical research).

In this context, it’s only fitting that Paris will play host for the world’s largest cardiology congress in August 2019 because it’s a major player in the field, with a strong network of scientists, partners and collaborators, and literally dozens of research centres across the Ile-de-France region. Jointly organized by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the World Heart Federation (WHF), it willpromote excellence in cardiology research in Europe and the world at large and facilitate the exchange of knowledge – in this regard, Paris seems to be the ideal place to do so.

It is definitely a big responsibility to organise the world’s largest cardiology congress!” says Isabel Bardinet CEO of the ESC. “Clinicians and scientists will come from all over the world to learn about the latest science, innovation and research in cardiology. We expect more than 30,000 delegates to attend more than 500 sessions during the five-day conference – and there is a lot at stake, as the main spotlight for this year’s conference will be on Global Cardiovascular Health.”

The ESC decided on this theme because cardiovascular health is becoming a major concern not only in Europe but across the world. Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers and have remained the leading causes of death globally in the last fifteen years. Reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease is a common goal for the ESC and the WHF, so it seemed like the perfect topic for this joint congress. “During ESC Congress, we will also offer several sessions and specific activities like its Meet & Share Forum bringing together experts from many international foundations and societies to identify specific challenges and discuss solutions,”adds Bardinet.

Healthy lifestyles

Paris has been extremely active in promoting healthier lifestyles. In 2015 the city launched an ambitious Health Plan that includes promoting physical activity and reducing air pollution, two prevention topics strongly connected to cardiovascular health. “At the Congress, we will launch a new project called Heart Healthy cities,” says Bardinet “It aims to provide elected officials with scientific evidence on the link between the urban environment and cardiovascular diseases and support the promotion of measures to reduce the social and economic impact of cardiovascular diseases. The City of Paris has welcomed this initiative, that we hope to continue in other cities where ESC Congress will be held in the future.”

The Project has clearly been designed as a legacy programme. The Congress is set to have an impact not only on the people attending the event but also the community at large.Heart Healthy Cities will support the existing policies put in place by Paris’ Mayor Anne Hidalgo and help promote healthy lifestyles among citizens,” comments Isabel Bardinet. “The ESC in collaboration with the Société Française de Cardiologie is also organising a public event over the weekend to give Parisians practical advice on how to look after their hearts.”

It is actually not the first time the ESC has chosen Paris to host the event,but it will be the first ESC Congress to be held at the Paris Convention Centre – Europe’s largest conference venue”says Bardinet. “And we are very excited to welcome our delegates in this newly designed venue in the heart of the capital.”

As a conference destination, Paris offers many advantages. It is served by extensive public transport links and Paris airports can be reached in less than three hours from every European capital, which is a great asset for delegates. “You can imagine that bringing 30,000 people into a city implies a huge logistical challenge,” concludes Bardinet. “Our needs include ensuring hotel capacity for our delegates, collaboration from transportation authorities to help visitors move around town, security issues, working with airlines and much more. We ‘implant’ a mid-sized town for five days into a major city with all that this may mean, and Paris, all across its suppliers’ chain, starting with the Convention Bureau, has been incredibly supportive.”

This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Remi Deve. The right to use, part or all of it in subsequent works has to be granted by the Publisher.