The business events sector has recently been faced with many challenges – but one thing that has prevailed is the exhibition of perseverance through adversity and dedication to creating legacy that goes far beyond the conference walls.
The Incredible Impacts Programme, now in its fourth year, run collaboratively by ICCA and BestCities Global Alliance, has selected three winning associations as leading examples of excellence within the global meetings industry that each display these inspiring qualities.
From live orchestras to inspire a new generation of ecologists, to bringing fresh water to underdeveloped villages in Malaysia – the winners of this year’s Incredible Impacts grant are:
- Ecocity Builders and the BCIT Ecocity Centre
- International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME)
- Soroptimist International (SI)
The three associations from across the globe (UK, Canada and Germany) will each receive a US $7,500 grant towards future projects, in recognition of their hosted events excelling in areas such as sustainability, accessibility and ecology.
The winning associations demonstrated innovation and global thinking to create meaningful impact in their respective industries, as well as leaving a legacy for the business events industry that will go beyond their venue walls for years to come. With this year’s Incredible Impacts program, it is hoped the winners will be a reference and source of inspiration for other event planners in the future – at a moment in time when our industry should be reminded of the remarkable work it does.
Senthil Gopinath, ICCA CEO, said: "ICCA is proud to have partnered with BestCities Global Alliance for the fourth year in a row to highlight the ‘beyond tourism’ value of international association meetings.
The three winners have demonstrated their efforts and how they raised awareness of, and positively influenced their communities through education on critical issues such as safe sanitation, sustainability and recent advances in Microbial Ecology. We're delighted to award them grants to support their endeavours as they continue important work on their legacy programmes."
Lesley Williams, Managing Director of BestCities said: “On behalf of the alliance, I’d like to say a huge congratulations to the winners of this year’s Incredible Impacts program – and a thank you for the remarkable contributions they have made within their communities.
There’s never been a more important time to showcase the major milestones our industry can overcome, and we hope that this year’s winners provide inspiration on the big or small ways that impact can be made.”
The winning association case studies:
Ecocity Builders and BCIT Ecocity Centre
In October 2019, the EcoCity World Summit took place in Vancouver, Canada. The Ecocity Builders had a goal to support accessibility of less developed country delegates as well as local, economically disadvantaged people to participate in their summit – and to help reduce the long-term ecological footprint of the cities that they host in.
To do this, they introduced a tiered registration fee where delegates from developing economies and students paid one-third of the full registration fee, and worked with local financial institutions to provide 20 fully paid registrations for youth, social enterprise entrepreneurs, and people of indigenous heritage.
They launched the first ‘Ecocity Centre’ in Vancouver – a two-year post-summit funding/training initiative that would support the community in Vancouver as they work to reduce their environmental footprint.
International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME)
In August 2018, ISME held its 17th Microbial Ecology symposium in Leipzig, Germany. As well as the regular scientific program and its established events, the association had ambitions to engage with the wider public while in the city, by educating them about the importance of ecology and inspiring an interest in the field with a new audience.
Working in partnership with the city, ISME created ‘The Night of the Microbes’ – a free-to-attend public event running in tandem with the symposium, where ecologists gave inspiring ‘TED-talks’ to ecology newbies, along with entertainment like a live orchestra band!
For those who could not join in-person, the event was livestreamed and made available on Youtube – so that people could continue learning long after the symposium left Leipzig, and a new spark of interest in ecology was born.
Soroptimist International (SI)
In July 2019, Soroptimist International held their international convention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The volunteer movement advocates for human rights and gender equality through their worldwide membership funding and implementing grassroots projects and by having permanent representation at seven United Nations Centres where SI influences global policy for women and girls. To ensure a lasting legacy from their 2019 convention, they set out to support an underdeveloped village in a remote part of Malaysia.
They partnered with local members in the underdeveloped areas to construct invaluable water facilities, start organic farms and conduct vocational training with the villagers. With the water systems in place, the villagers now have access to clean and safe water throughout the year. The women learned about personal hygiene, sanitation, water conservation and the importance of using clean water for drinking and cooking. Moreover, women and girls were trained in maintenance of the systems and organic farming which resulted in healthy food for the village. Five girls achieved a diploma in welding, and they all got jobs after the course. The collective outcome for the women and girls was the empowerment through the project to participate in decision-making process in their communities.
The immeasurable impact from this convention will shape the future of this village and all of its members for years to come.