I was fortunate enough to produce several fantastic international conferences in 2021 with incredible speakers highlighting huge challenges and opportunities for the major events and technology regulation sectors.
The biggest challenges both sectors faced in 2021 will keep rolling through 2022. For the major events sector, recovery from the pandemic continues to be unpredictable and hugely variable from one country to another.
Big Tech continues to grow: Apple is now worth more than the GDP of all but four countries. Governments are taking different approaches to managing the size and influence of these companies and the technologies they own.
Both these challenges – the pandemic, and tech regulation – are being tackled on a national, or at best regional, level. And yet they are global challenges. Neither viruses nor technology can be fully controlled by national borders, and even if they could, would we want to live in a world where ideas and people cannot travel?
The rapid rollout of vaccines in 2021 was an incredible feat that has enabled many economies to get back on track. But many populations still have next to no immunity, and this gives Covid scope to mutate. If 2021 was the year of local recovery, 2022 must be the year of global recovery, with wealthier nations increasing their support for global vaccination programmes. The international major events sectors will be one of many to benefit from a world where Covid is managed globally.
Similarly, regulations to tackle technology came on apace throughout 2021. With various Acts moving through Washington, Brussels and Beijing, 2022 will no doubt be a big year for such legislation. But as technology transcends national borders, only a coordinated global approach to the Regulation of AI, the Internet and Data (RAID) will be truly effective in making it work best for humanity.
Perhaps the most significant event of last year was COP21 in Glasgow, tackling the biggest threat of all: climate change. Never has global alignment been more challenging and more critical. Climate change of course raises huge questions for the international events sector, and technology is playing a vital and fascinating role in the evolution of travel and the experience economy.
As overwhelming as the challenges to our industries and societies might seem, I am extremely optimistic. If there is one thing that makes humans unique, it is our ability to communicate and collaborate, and we have it in our power to apply this skill with the level of urgency required. International major events would be impossible without global governance structures – perhaps governments could learn from sports.
We look forward to more world-changing conversations at Host City and RAID events in 2022. Let’s make it a year of global recovery.