Sunday, 18 July 2010

Worth it?

Well, the party's over. The dignitaries have left town, the fences are down, the bouncers have been paid off. The question remains: was it worth it?

Canadians will likely never have a clear picture if our investment of an estimated $1.1 billion in hosting the 2010 G8 and G20 summits was worth it. History shows that some agreements stick, but some do not; the bulk of negotiations having taken place before such Summits anyway, which afford the opportunity for quick meetings, hand-shakes and press-worthy photos. And the profile afforded to Canada in retrospect given protests is not likely the image marketers would hope for. After all, the event earned a travel advisory from the US Department of State urging American travelers to approach Toronto with caution.

Regardless of the issues before, during and after, the question remains for meeting managers and event destinations: is there a better way?

  • Is there a better way to use virtual and in-person meetings to their greatest advantage to support the purpose of international decision-making on significant issues?
  • What is the model to siting significant international political events and is a different approach needed?
  • Is it more responsible financially, environmentally and socially to select a consistent location where the guarantee of recurring meetings leads to more economical costs and predictable ways to host them?
  • Should host destinations bear the entire burden of securing events for international heads of state or is a cooperative model for funding security needed?
  • How can freedom of expression by those with relevant and important issues be guaranteed while ensuring safety and security for city residents against acts of violence and vandalism?
  • How can host country governments be held accountable to taxpayers for financial investments required to host the G8 and G20, or other Summits of this nature?
Accepting the fundamental economic model of meetings, I would be curious if Toronto or Huntsville would want to host these events again in light of the costs and protests, or if they would desire a different way? Making me wonder if indeed, they are worth it.

Related articles:
CBC: G20 protest violence prompts over 400 arrests
Globe & Mail: Billion-dollar G20 security cost not a ‘blank cheque,’ security czar argues
Toronto Star: Too early to tell if G8/G20 security costs worth it: budget watchdog

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