Global Issues Hitting Close to Home

The current war in Ukraine is contributing to trends that will pose challenges for international associations and global/regional events going forward. COVID sparked some of these trends while others were building pre-COVID. We, as association professionals, need to keep our eyes wide open and ears to the ground for how this may impact your specific organization and stakeholder set.

Geopolitical realignment is happening right in front of us. The rise of China is one aspect of this. The re-invigoration of the European Union is another, and the evolving role of the US globally is an additional piece to this puzzle. The politics will impact engagement and cooperation among international organizations. The war will harden the “blocs” and the impact of the official and self-sanctions will have enormous consequences on all of us in the future.

The nationalization of supply lines is also a topic to be mindful of. We saw this come to a head during COVID – with the delay of everything from PPE equipment to vaccines. This is now spreading to semiconductors and critical minerals. Countries are no longer willing to outsource these perceived national security supplies. This disconnection from the integrated global supply chain model will have impacts on international trade associations and professional societies.

The above topics are now coupled with the already top-of-mind areas of increased focus on climate change, sustainability, wellness, and reduced corporate travel – all of which impact organizational and individual preferences on time management, cost, need, and risk in crossing international boundaries and long- haul travel. Those decisions will impact our choices in events and destinations.

All of that said, what do we do now? First, start having these conversations with your Board – what do these trends mean to us as an organization, to our members and stakeholders? Second, what data do we need from our members and stakeholders to inform us of where they stand on these issues? What are they looking for from us now and how do they want to receive it? Start asking these questions. The answers you obtain will help you begin to revise or plan your strategy going forward.