Brussels continues to be one of the world’s top hubs for international associations

This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
Brussels continues to be one of the world’s top hubs for international associations
Brussels has a long history of being a hub for international associations. Credit: Pixabay.

Brussels ranked second in the world for international non-profit organisation meetings with 6.8% of the global market share.

The Union of International Associations (UIA) publishes its International Meetings Statistics Report on an annual basis. The Report, this year in its 60th edition, provides the answers to questions about meetings organised by international non-profit associations: How many? Where? When?

The report is compiled from UIA’s extensive database of over 494,711 international association meetings in 250 countries and 12,682 cities, reaching back as far as 1850. Thanks to UIA’s ongoing research and surveys this database is continuously updated. UIA added 11,240 new meetings which took place in 2018 across 167 countries and 1,197 cities.

Brussels lays claim to second place for cities in the report, having hosted 733 meetings in 2018. This represents 6.8% of the global market share. This puts Brussels just behind Singapore, which hosted 1,177.

Largely thanks to Brussels’ success, Belgium comes in third on the country ranking with 849 meetings in 2018, worth 7.8% of global market share. As the top two places go to Singapore and South Korea with 1,177 and 854 meetings respectively, this means Belgium is the top EU country for international non-profit meetings.

Brussels has a long history of being a hub for international associations. UIA tracks meetings as far back as 1850, and the Belgian capital has always placed in the top ten. While some cities have lost their link to international civil society, Brussels’ efforts to stay connected and organised in this capacity, have kept it at the forefront. June, October, and November are the busiest months for the city.

Ghent is the only other Belgian city to be listed in the global top thirty, ranking 28th with 56 meetings in 2018. In the 2018 ranking per capita, Ghent does even better, reaching the 14th spot with 242 meetings per million inhabitants. Brussels ranks at number five with 719 meetings per million.

The report also delves into general trends applying to all international association meetings. While Europe maintains its continental ranking as the place to be, year after year the numbers for Asia grow. Just twenty years ago not a single non-European city was to be found in the top ten, and now there are three Asian cities in the top five.

Another notable trend shown in the report is that meetings have become shorter in length and smaller in participant numbers.

The full report consists of 163 pages and contains over fifty comprehensive tables, and is available to the general public for purchase.

The UIA was founded in 1907 in Brussels with the aim of researching international associations, regardless of location or field of activities.

Today the UIA is the world’s oldest, largest, and most comprehensive source of information on global civil society. The UIA collects, hosts, and provides up-to-date, reliable information on global civil society and maintains the most comprehensive source of information on international associations, their activities and concerns, and their meetings activities.

Every year the UIA also publishes the Yearbook of International Organisations which includes detailed information on over 37,500 active and approximately 38,000 dormant international organisations from 300 countries and territories. Approximately 1,200 new organisations are added each year.

Amelia Folkema

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