For too long the only measure applied to this sector was delegate spending – and this simply wasn’t good enough when much of the required investment is public money, which must be seen to offer publicly relevant returns.
But faced with such a diverse a range of outputs, many simply fell back again on things like hotel room nights and spending by organisers, for the simple reason that these were readily measurable and could be extrapolated into things like tax revenues, of particular interest to local and national governments.
Enter the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, or UNSDG’s. These broad statements of intent were developed in order to create a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”, but they are particularly relevant to telling the story of our industry – for a number of very important reasons:
First, they are global – and globally recognised. That means that instead of having to promote adoption of an industry-specific measure, they are widely recognised and come from a highly credible source. For an industry that remains largely a mystery to the world as a whole, this is a huge benefit.
Secondly, they are as diverse as our industry – recognising and addressing many different kinds of social and commercial development, and the many forms these take in various parts of the world.
Third, they are not ‘owned’ by anyone in particular – which means they cannot be put to exclusive use by any single interest to the exclusion of others.
The process of demonstrating how particular SDG’s are addressed by certain events or activities is one that can take many different forms, each as valid as the others, to show the relevance of what we do.
Finally, the ability to apply and use such measures as UNSDG’s needs and encourages collaboration – and collaboration is what our industry can and should be all about; a partnership where all parties recognise that everyone has a role to play in shaping the outcome. For that reason, AIPC members, along with industry colleagues, are now engaged in a process of documenting their most important achievements in a UNSDG context – and we’re looking forward to the results!