WTCA Member Forum 2021: The New (Virtual) Reality of Business


On November 15-19, the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) hosted its third virtual global event, the 2021 WTCA Member Forum ‚ÄúThe New (Virtual) Reality of Business,‚ÄĚ bringing together nearly 600 attendees across 117 World Trade Center businesses in more than 50 countries and 27 industries around the globe, alongside renowned experts. The Forum offered a full week of virtual networking opportunities via a complimentary Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered B2B matchmaking platform, and three days of programming filled with insightful keynotes, panel discussions and workshops allowing Members to connect with their global colleagues and learn from prominent thought leaders to help navigate today‚Äôs changing environment as we head into 2022.

Highlights from the Members-only programming included sessions and workshops that provided WTCA Members with new tools to bolster their business and expand their global reach.¬†Members learned about new and upcoming initiatives from the WTCA Membership team to enhance the overall WTCA Membership experience including the WTCA New Member On-Boarding Program, the revamped WTCA Accreditation Program, the 2021-2022 WTCAF ‚ÄúPeace Through Trade Student Competition,‚ÄĚ and the 2021-2022 WTCA Champions Award. They were also introduced to seven new Members who have recently joined the network, and the opportunities and offerings at each new World Trade Center location; gained new resources including the WTCA Trade Services Operating Manual and the WTC Prime Office Index LatAm; and participated in workshops focusing on social media best practices and WTCA digital tools, to membership models for WTC business clubs, trade consulting & trade education, and developing collaborative WTC events and delegate programs.

Event attendees were treated to several engaging keynote addresses and fireside chats. Andr√©s Valenciano Yamuni, Costa Rica‚Äôs Minister of Foreign Trade, discussed Costa Rica's unique "Pura Vida" model, global trade, the country's OECD membership, and how to translate the idea of sustainability into an effective business and economic model. Ambassador¬†Kelapile, President of the United Nations¬†Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) shared his vision for the organization and discussed opportunities for Africa. Jacopo Dettoni, Editor of fDi Intelligence, returned to our Member Forum programming this year to discuss current developments and trends in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), while Parag Khanna, Founder and Managing Partner of FutureMap, returned to discuss the concept of ‚ÄúCivilization 3.0‚ÄĚ and his new book MOVE: The Forces Uprooting Us .¬† Further, attendees listed to a thought-provoking Fireside Chat between Ed Allison-Wright, Director of World Trade Center Gibraltar; Manuel Rees, Head of Project Development at RECO Immobilien- und Verwaltungs GmbH (World Trade Center Dresden); and Hans Wallstr√∂m, Director of Sustainability at Skanska AB ‚Äď on the correlation between sustainability and real estate. Lastly, Nick Dugdale-Moore, UFI's Regional Director Europe, discussed the future of the exhibitions industry in the next year.

Lastly, on behalf of the WTCA, Chairman John E. Drew and Executive Director-Business Development Robin van Puyenbroeck were awarded with a Certificate of Appreciation for the Association’s timeless dedication to intercultural understanding, and international trade and investment by the International Trade Administration (ITA). The award was presented by Diane Farrell, Acting Under Secretary and the Deputy Under Secretary for International Trade of the U.S. Department of Commerce, along with the U.S. Commercial Service New York and ITA teams. 

‚ÄúCreated in 2002, the certificate recognizes foreign business partners, trade associations, U.S. government agencies and other qualified recipients for supporting U.S. export development and creating opportunities for U.S businesses through trade,‚ÄĚ stated Ms. Farrell during the presentation ceremony. ‚ÄúA valued partner of the U.S. Commercial Service New York for more than 20 years, the WTCA is being recognized today for its unwavering dedication to and success in international trade promotion in the face of adversity. Similar to the association‚Äôs resilience following the tragic events of September 11, the global network came together as ‚Äėone WTCA‚Äô throughout the COVID-19 pandemic ‚ÄĒ sharing resources, best practices and strategies to aid their local economies ‚ÄĒ symbolizing strength, hope, prosperity and resilience during these uncertain times.‚ÄĚ

The WTCA team in New York is thrilled to have had strong participation from Members around the world over this full week of programming, and thanks its Members for making the past three virtual events so successful. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has hosted its annual flagship events in a new virtual environment and incorporated matchmaking capabilities with the use of advanced technology, showcasing how the WTCA is embracing and leveraging a new era of digital globalization. The dedication and engagement of its Members to participate in these events only reaffirms the Association’s mission to connect globally and prosper locally.

NOTE: Available public recordings from the keynotes and fireside chats with select expert speakers can be viewed here . Recordings of the Members-only sessions are viewable through the WTCA Resource Center here . Please note you must be logged into the WTCA Digital Platform in order to access. Also, please do not repost videos or share these Members-only session recordings as they are for WTCA Members only and one of the benefits of being a part of our Association.

For a free copy of Parag Khanna’s new e-book MOVE: The Forces Uprooting Us , please subscribe to the WTCA Trade Wins podcast and email podcast@wtca.org . Limited copies are still available.