Scotland’s Journey to Change
Change is a continuous journey. It isn't always easy, but it is exciting and necessary. VisitScotland believes that business events are crucial in change for the better; driving social transformation and tackling some of the biggest challenges we face as a global community. No matter what we face, if we face them together, we can create a better tomorrow.
Rory Archibald, Associations and Sectors at VisitScotland Business Events, gives ConferenceNews an overview of Journey to Change and an insight into the work undertaken by some of its partners.
Time for transformation
Long before Covid-19 brought the events industry to a standstill, VisitScotland started to look in greater detail at the impact business events have on local and global communities. As well as having a significant impact on delegates and destinations, we also saw that events can bring beneficial change for communities and were catalysts for new ideas.
For some years the industry has attempted to highlight the positive impact of business events in addition to the obvious economic benefits. Some call it 'legacy', some call it 'impact'. What business events do for delegates, destinations and communities can mean different things to different people and there is not a single definition that encapsulates the interconnected benefits business events have across sectors, academia and in society.
There are some key challenges we as an industry need to tackle, particularly climate change. The industry is good at talking about sustainability, but we need real action. This goes beyond plastic straws and reusable items. Business events can be a leader in sustainable practises, act as a champion for change and an example for other sectors to follow.
There are several organisations in Scotland that are built around making a change and tackling some very real issues that affect local and global communities.
Scotland is committed to tackling climate change and is already producing the equivalent of 90% of its electricity from renewable sources. Scottish Renewables, the trade body for the renewable energy sector, is responsible for representing the industry to government to try and effect change in policies to benefit the country and its residents.
On a UK level Hey Girls, founded by Celia Hodson in 2018, has the ultimate goal of eradicating period poverty. It seeks to enrich the lives of girls and women in the UK by exercising social and ethical responsibility in every aspect of its work - from where it sources its products through to its supply chain, and the way it runs its social business.
And The Data Lab, founded as part of the Innovation Centre Programme in 2014, is supporting global charity UNICEF in its Data for Children Collaborative. The three-year partnership between the Scottish Government, UNICEF, and the University of Edinburgh’s Data Driven Innovation programme, seeks to use data responsibly to improve outcomes for every child across the globe.
The Journey to Change
VisitScotland knows business events can do much more for the wider community; they can help shape policy and show governments and policy makers that the ideas and sparks they were looking for were there all along.
Glasgow will host COP26 in November; the largest conference Scotland has ever hosted. Many international governments will send delegations to discuss the actions they need to take to ensure the planet has a chance to change and survive.
Imagine if we could bring the same energy and the same determination to learn and change to other areas that affect us all - health, diet, transport, medicines, education and science, to name but a few. Business events have the ideas, now they need to be the change.