Global Dialogues Happen in Melbourne

21st March 2024

Melbourne, Australia’s cultural capital, stands out as a leading conference destination, combining an experiential essence with a multicultural and inclusive atmosphere. The city’s dynamic blend of immersive experiences and local expertise sets a global benchmark for hosting international gatherings.

Words Remi Deve

Melbourne’s fabric is woven with vibrant arts, cutting-edge technology, gastronomical delights, and a sports frenzy, making it an experiential city par excellence. From the hidden laneways filled with street art and cafes to the state-of-the-art Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) – where the biggest AIME in a decade, the leading business events trade show of the region, took place in February – the city offers unique backdrops for every conference theme. Attendees can enjoy tailored tours, hands-on workshops, and exclusive access to Melbourne’s iconic attractions, ensuring a memorable conference experience beyond the conventional.

The essence of Melbourne’s charm lies in its diverse cultural tapestry. Home to communities from around the globe, the city’s cosmopolitan vibe is palpable through its eclectic food scene, international film festivals, and multicultural celebrations. This diversity not only enriches the conference experience with a variety of cultural offerings but also fosters a sense of belonging among international delegates, making Melbourne a universally appealing destination.

In a significant stride towards inclusivity, the Melbourne Convention Bureau recently unveiled the First Nations Engagement Guide, a testament to the city’s commitment to respectful and meaningful engagement with its Indigenous communities. This initiative underscores the importance of incorporating Indigenous perspectives and cultural elements into conference planning, offering delegates an opportunity to connect with Australia’s rich cultural heritage.

Sector-Focused Strategy & Government Alignment

Melbourne Convention Bureau employs a strategic, sector-focused approach to attract international conferences, aligning its efforts with government priorities in key industries such as technology, health, and education. This alignment not only enhances Melbourne’s appeal as a conference destination but also stimulates local innovation and economic growth. Julia Swanson, CEO of Melbourne CVB, emphasizes the importance of this synergy: “By focusing on sectors where Melbourne leads globally, we not only showcase our city’s strengths but also foster international collaboration and knowledge exchange.”

Case in point: the state of Victoria plays a pivotal role in the regional energy transition, standing at the vanguard of the renewable revolution. Unique among Australian states for setting offshore wind targets, Victoria positions Melbourne as the hub of choice, closely aligning with the goals of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) members, who represent 99% of the world’s installed wind power capacity, including top turbine manufacturers, developers, suppliers, and service providers. This alignment was underscored by Melbourne hosting the inaugural APAC Offshore Wind and Green Hydrogen Summit 2023, the first of its kind to be held in the Asia Pacific region.

Similarly, Victoria’s leadership in oncology is set to bring a series of prestigious international cancer events to Melbourne in the coming years, highlighting its global influence in the field. The lineup includes the World Indigenous Cancer Conference, International Symposium on Oncology Pharmacy Practice, Asia-Pacific Prostate Cancer Conference, and the 6th Global Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Congress all in 2024, followed by the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit in 2025, and the MASCC/ISOO Annual Meeting in 2026. The latter, a collaborative effort between the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer and the International Society of Oral Oncology, underscores Victoria’s commitment to improving cancer care. 

These events not only provide a platform for healthcare professionals worldwide to share insights and innovations but also align with Victoria’s cancer plan. This plan aims for equitable outcomes, enhanced treatment experiences, and increased survival rates by 2040, positioning Victoria as a leader in cancer prevention, management, and patient quality of life improvement both locally and globally.

Sustainability in Melbourne

In response to the growing focus on sustainability within the events industry, Swanson highlights the Bureau’s comprehensive approach towards fostering eco-friendly practices and enhancing the sustainability of business events: “Environmental sustainability is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but an integral element in the delivery of business events. We are committed to embedding sustainability in our operations through our Sustainability Strategy.” This strategy not only aims to influence and encourage stakeholders to reduce their environmental impact but also ensures events in Melbourne adhere to recognised sustainability standards. 

With international associations increasingly seeking to host events that align with such standards, MCB has introduced a range of initiatives, including a detailed online Sustainability Guide for event planners, filled with practical tips, tools, and checklists to help improve the sustainability, inclusivity, and accessibility of their operations. Swanson further notes the importance of social impact alongside environmental outcomes, “Sustainability doesn’t just rest with environmental outcomes. Through MCB’s Social Outcomes Strategy, we encourage event owners to incorporate specialized legacy concepts focused on delivering wider social and economic outcomes.”

This holistic approach underscores Melbourne’s commitment to minimising environmental impact, aiming for net-zero, and promoting carbon-neutral events as a standard practice. Proudly, Swanson remarked on Melbourne’s achievement as the number one sustainable destination in Australia according to the annual GDS-Index, reflecting the collective commitment of government, the tourism and events industry, association clients, and delegates towards sustainability.

Under Swanson’s leadership, Melbourne Convention Bureau has solidified its position as a global conference hub, driven by a vision of inclusivity, innovation, and international engagement. “Our goal is to create immersive, enriching experiences for delegates, while contributing to the social and economic vibrancy of Melbourne,” says Swanson. 

Through strategic partnerships and a deep commitment to sustainability and cultural respect, Melbourne continues to redefine the global conference landscape.

To watch a short video of the BestCities Global Forum which Melbourne hosted in January, click here.

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