NAME: 34th International Geological Congress (IGC)
WHEN: August 2012
VENUE: Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC)
PAX: 6012 delegates from 112 countries
BUDGET: TOP SECRET
The 34th International Geological Congress (IGC) – Australia’s largest ever international geosciences event – surpassed even the most optimistic expectations. It set new records with 6012 delegates, 3712 oral papers presented by 3232 authors, 286 symposia, 40 concurrent meetings per day and 67 major association and organisational meetings in a full five-day program.
The 34th IGC was an event of global significance, attended by resource and mining ministers, diplomats and earth scientists from every corner of the globe. Keynote speakers included geologist and BBC documentary presenter, Professor Iain Stewart and eminent geologist and geophysicist, Lord Ronald Oxburgh.
The five-day congress which was eight years in the planning delivered an estimated $18 million boost to the Brisbane economy.
Ashley Gordon, director of Brisbane-based Carillon Conference Management said the event had been widely acclaimed by stakeholders, delegates, major sponsors and worldwide organisation partners as the most successful IGC ever.
Gordon said outcomes and achievements were apparent by the final day of the congress.
“We know from previous IGC experience we can expect a renaissance in investment and activity in the mineral and energy sectors in Australia. This year there were immediate tangible outcomes with the recruitment of professionals and industry expertise to Brisbane and Australia,” he explained.
President of the 34th IGC, Dr Neil Williams, described the event as absolutely fantastic. He praised it for inspiring a generation of geology graduates in Australia and around the world, and for having established a foundation for closer international collaboration and interaction within the global geological community.
The world’s pre-eminent geoscience congress, IGC is one of the longest running conferences in the world having made its debut in Paris in 1878. The congress has been held regularly ever since and once every four years in recent decades.
The 34th IGC combined a comprehensive resources and energy program with discussion and debate on a number of societal issues.
President Neil Williams said the congress provided the ideal platform for geoscientists from all over the world to gather in a unique environment to present papers of international significance.
Brisbane, he said was chosen to host the 2012 congress ahead of Sydney and Melbourne primarily because of the facilities offered by the convention centre and the additional space and flexibility provided by the centre’s recently opened expansion, BCEC on Grey Street.
The organisation of a congress of this size and complexity presents a number of challenges for organisers and attracting delegates was a major concern according to Ashley Gordon.
“Historically the majority of delegates who attended the congress were from the academic and public sectors of European nations. Continued post GFC economic uncertainty in Europe, the IGC’s major market, posed a very serious threat to attendance levels at the 34th IGC. Clearly, replacement delegations had to be found and the entire marketing emphasis had to change,” he said.
Other challenges experienced included attracting sponsorship for an event that was perceived as academically focused and of minimal value to major cash sponsors. As was ensuring delegates paid a sustainable registration free in face of strong pressure for complimentary registrations.
According to Gordon all of these changes essentially came down to a single realisation.
“We had to make the event relevant to the commercial sector in markets that could afford to invest in the congress either as sponsors, exhibitors or as delegates. This led us to completely change the marketing direction and target delegations from nations that had strong resource industries and those which were major resource consumers.
“Assistance with international marketing and support from local and state government organisations also played a role,” he explained.
legacies and outcomes
According to IGC Committee members, the congress was an exceptional success by each and every measure, a sentiment substantiated in the following snapshot:
Delegate numbers exceeded expectations by more than 1000.
The accompanying exhibition, GeoExpo was sold out six months in advance with exhibition revenue exceeding target.
Sponsorship revenue exceeded budget by 130 per cent.
According to Gordon who was also chairman of the sponsorship and exhibition committee, this was largely achieved through the revised marketing strategy and initiation of international political traction.
International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) President, Professor Alberto C. Riccardi, congratulated the local host committee on an “excellent and productive event with a strong scientific program and large number of symposia in the setting of the magnificent Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.”