ICCA, BestCities Reveal 2021 Incredible Impacts Winners

Three global associations were honored for their conference legacies that aid vulnerable, marginalized and minority communities.

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Women Deliver's Vancouver conference led to a 10-year, $1.4 billion commitment to gender equality and sexual and reproductive health from the Canadian government. Photo Credit:Women Deliver

Three international associations — European AIDS Clinical Society, The Garden of Hope Foundation and Women Deliver  — are winners of the 2021 Incredible Impacts Program, a joint initiative by the International Congress and Convention Association and the BestCities Global Alliance, a global network of convention and visitor bureaus. The three associations were lauded for their roles as "champions for vulnerable, marginalized and minority communities" for leaving lasting legacies in the communities that have hosted their events. Each winning association, whose legacies are detailed below, was awarded a $7,500 grant to be used for future projects.

European AIDS Clinical Society’s European AIDS Conference, which will take place in London Oct. 27- 30, 2021, has already formed the London EACS Respect Committee. The group asks attendees, politicians, celebrities and the public to sign a pledge to end stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, and provides equitable access to medical treatment and services.

The Garden of Hope Foundation spearheaded the Fourth World Conference of Women’s Shelters, which was held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in November 2019. The event marked the first time the conference was held in an Asian city, addressing topics including LGBTQ shelter management and the introduction of lila.help, a central platform integrating support mechanisms around the world for victims of gender-based violence.

Women Deliver, a global advocacy group for gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women, held its largest conference (8,000 delegates from 169 countries) in Vancouver, B.C., in June 2019. During the meeting, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a 10-year, $1.4 billion government commitment to gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Uhuru Kenyatta, president of Kenya, also made a commitment to end female genital mutilation in his country. The event led to various women’s groups and advocates jointly developing a global plan to end female genital mutilation by 2030.

In congratulating the Incredible Impact winners, Lesley Williams, managing director of BestCities, remarked, “They are an inspiration for the entire meetings industry for their passion, fortitude and commitment to ending human rights violations and ensuring every member of our global population is treated equally and fairly. We hope their stories will spark similar determination and creativity in their fellow associations, so we can build on their legacies — and also create new ones.”

ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath added, “It is wonderful to see that social impact is taking center stage. Their impact stories uniquely fit in with ICCA’s 2021 Congress theme, 'Forward to our Future,' where we will highlight the topics of inclusivity, gender equality and sustainable development, all of which are reflected in the three winning submissions." The Congress takes place Oct. 24-27 in Cartagena, Colombia.