Dear colleagues, dear UFI members,
Going through the current activities, it struck me this week that, despite all the challenging circumstances around the world, the UFI team is out again in full force, being in touch with you, our members, face to face at shows, industry events, and in meetings – from Argentina to Thailand, and from the US to the UAE, to give just a few examples.
From March to May, UFI organizes its regional conferences around the world. While gatherings still look a bit different in 2022, we are nonetheless able to again offer events in all of our regions. In early March, we had a delegation of thirty participants visit the Dubai World Expo 2020, and just last week, the first UFI Asia-Pacific Week took place with more than a dozen regional and local meetings and activities organized by UFI members to connect and reconnect industry colleagues and the wider community across Asia. More information on this can be found elsewhere in this UFI Info.
In May, we will see two Regional Conferences: the UFI European Conference and the UFI LATAM Conference, taking place in Poznan, Poland, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, respectively. And in June, we will hold the Global CEO Summit in Hamburg, Germany, which was originally scheduled for late January. Our events are an integral part of the work we do for our members, and we look forward to welcoming each and every one of you all on site!
At the same time, the global challenges we are all facing continue to impact us – COVID now causing severe lockdowns in major Chinese exhibition cities, and the military actions ordered by the Russian leadership.
As you will have read, the UFI Executive Committee met in an extraordinary meeting on this matter, and decided to temporarily suspend access to UFI events and activities for representatives from Russian member businesses. Our association’s leadership, coming from twelve countries/markets around the world, aligned on this decision with zero votes against it and two abstentions.
Some colleagues feel that this is a political decision whereas UFI is a non-political association. Let me therefore quote what was decided – as this clearly states that the cause of action is non-political:
“UFI’s mission is to drive collaboration within the exhibitions and business events industry. As such, our association, along with all collaborative international organisations, relies on a foundation of respect for all individuals and adherence to a rules-based order. The military actions launched by the Russian government in Ukraine contradict our most fundamental principles. They cannot be allowed to stand. The UN General Assembly, in a rare emergency session, has passed a resolution that lays out a path forward to end this aggression and restore peace in the region, with an overwhelming majority.”
At the core, our industry is about people, and UFI is here to connect people. We also understand that we must differentiate between the actions of the Russian leadership and the Russian people. Right now, we must focus on ending the inhumane activities. Right now, we must focus on emergency humanitarian support, to help as many individuals as we can, as an industry. Only then can we use the role of events to help to heal the human, the cultural, and economic wounds that will persist long after the violence has ended.
In Poznan next month, we will have the opportunity to show our industry’s support. If you plan to attend, we will be in touch with you to share our plans. If you cannot be with us, let me refer you to the call for donations that Sandy Angus, UFI President 2001-2003 has shared. Monica Lee-Müller also references this in her column, and you find Sandy’s appeal as well in this edition of UFI Info.
UFI CEO & Managing Director