Dubai To Host 12th World Chambers Congress With A Focus On Technology And Digital Disruption

Organized by the International Chamber of Commerce World Chambers Federation and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the 12th edition of the WCC (12WCC) will be held under the theme, "Generation Next: Chambers 4.0."

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The 2021 edition of the World Chambers Congress (12WCC), an international forum for chamber and government leaders to share business and innovation practices and address significant global issues, will be held at the Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, on November 23-25. 

Dubai Chamber
H.E. Hamad Buamim, Chair of the ICC World Chambers Federation and President & CEO of Dubai Chamber

Organized by the International Chamber of Commerce World Chambers Federation and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the 12WCC will be held under the theme “Generation Next: Chambers 4.0.” With more than 1,000 delegates, 12WCC is set to welcome 80 speakers who represent global governments, international businesses, and chambers of commerce from across the globe.

As the world’s most prominent leaders convey for the event, technology and digital disruption in the post COVID-19 era take centerstage. The program will also examine how these chambers can rethink their priorities and create new solutions that address business challenges, remove trade barriers, and drive global prosperity.

Among the high-level speakers confirmed for the event are H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications and Chair of Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy; H.E. Hamad Buamim, Chair of the ICC World Chambers Federation and President and CEO of Dubai Chamber; John W.H. Denton AO, Secretary General, International Chamber of Commerce; Anabel Gonzalez, Deputy Director General, World Trade Organization; Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre; Adam J. Bock, Executive Education Instructor & Coach, Wisconsin School of Business; Interim CFO, Endsulin; and Ted Souder, Head of Industry – Retail, Google; Vice-Chair, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications & Chair of Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy.

Source: Dubai Chamber

In an exclusive interview with Entrepreneur Middle East, H.E. Buamim points out how the event will serve as a platform for global collaborations in the fields of sustainability, logistics, technology, and entrepreneurship. “The World Chambers Congress is not just about knowledge sharing, but it is designed to offer delegates tangible solutions and tools, such as the Chamber Mode Innovation (CMI) framework, Digital Fitness Test and Dubai Innovation Index to guide delegates, help them self-evaluate, test their digital fitness and adopt practical recommendations, work smarter and address new challenges,” he says. “Chamber Model Innovation, which we will be presenting at the Congress, will serve as a framework that will support and prepare chambers of commerce long after the event is over.”

The Chamber Model Innovation session will teach participants how to generate new chamber models that can be transferred to ongoing or existing businesses. Notably, the programs and measures introduced at 12WCC are expected to be revisited when the WCC reconvenes for its next edition in Geneva. “Such initiatives have been designed in a way for chamber leaders to not only learn from their counterparts, but implement such solutions within their organisations and measure their progress when we meet again for the next edition of the Congress in Geneva in two years’ time,” added H.E. Buamim.

But H.E. Buamim remains well aware that for innovative and effective collaborations to take place, adapting to and adopting digital transformation will remain key in a post-pandemic world. “There has been huge pressure on chambers of commerce to adapt to meet the evolving needs of its members,” he says. “Among the issues on the 12WCC agenda are the role of digital transformation in enhancing intra-chambers collaboration, embracing agility for success, and what chambers can do to remain trusted and relevant in the post-COVID-19 era and beyond.” He also adds that this can only be achieved if there is a bigger focus placed on converting technical and digital knowledge into action- a goal that is expected to be achieved at the event. “The need for action has never been more urgent than today, and as a response, the 12WCC will be more collaborative and action-oriented than ever, with a format designed to equip delegates with the knowledge and skills required to turn digital disruption into opportunity for people and the planet.”

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A multitude of chamber leaders will also be addressing delegates during the 12WCC in a bid to share their experiences and discuss what is needed to facilitate investment as the world moves towards a post-pandemic business ecosystem. Among the many chambers of commerce leaders who will be at the 12WCC include those representing Eurochambres, Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Spain Chamber, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bogota Chamber of Commerce, Geneva Chamber of Commerce as well as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among many others. These experts will be partaking in over 44 sessions to discuss key issues such as opportunities and challenges for chambers of commerce and businesses across the world, the significance of public-private sector partnerships, health and safety protocols, as well as the importance of business resilience and what it means to prepare for future crises. 

Nicolas Uribe Rueda, President, Bogota Chamber of Commerce. Source: nicolasuribe.com

Notably, a particular sentiment that is reflected in what many of these leaders have to say as they look forward to the event, is their agreement on Dubai being an ideal choice as host for the 12WCC. “Dubai offers the possibility for the WCC to take place in the framework of Expo Dubai 2020,” says Bogota Chamber of Commerce President Nicolas Uribe Rueda. “As one of the most relevant events of 2021, the Expo will gather businesses from around the world to create new investment opportunities and promote international trade and cooperation to boost the economic recovery process that the world finds itself in.” 

Rueda further comments on the significance of choosing Dubai as the venue for the 12WCC by adding that the Emirate’s strategic geographical location, combined with its business-friendly policies and vision to establish itself as a knowledge-based and innovation-centric global hub make it an exemplary location for the 12WCC to be held in. “This edition, under the motto ‘Generation Next: Chambers 4.0,’ will demonstrate how technology is shaping the global trading system and rethinking the way we do business, presenting itself as an opportunity for Chambers to innovate in the face of new challenges,” he adds. “Hence, the WCC will serve as a platform to promote the active role that chambers of commerce worldwide are playing in the economic recovery process of their respective regions.” Rueda also mentioned that as Vice President for Latin America of the World Chambers Federation, the Bogota Chamber of Commerce will lead the participation of the Latin American Chambers, both at the WCC as well as at the Expo. “We are convinced that business recovery must be addressed jointly in our region,” he says.

Vincent Subilia, Director General, Geneva Chamber of Commerce.

Source: ICC 

Speaking on the matter of business resilience and why it is such an important topic of discussion moving forward, Geneva Chamber of Commerce Director General Vincent Subilia has his fair share of insights to offer as well. “In today’s complex world, chambers of commerce are adapting and adjusting their value proposition to suit the needs of their stakeholders; this is even more the case in the wake of the pandemic, which has called for enhanced agility and resilience,” he says. He further explains that the showcasing and exchange of best practices at the 12WCC will be pivotal, now more than ever. “Innovation, which stands at the core of the Dubai-hosted WCC, will feature a catalyst in this respect, as much as sustainable development which constitutes a priority on chambers’ agendas,” he adds. “The Geneva Chamber will be, in turn, sharing the theme it has set for the 13th WCC it will have the honor of hosting, which is ‘achieving shared prosperity through multilateralism.’”

Nola Watson, Director, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Source: Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

On that note, Nola Watson, Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry sheds light on how the COVID-19 crisis has affected multiple industries across the globe, and how the WCC can help in alleviating some of it. “The coronavirus crisis has led to supply chain disruptions across most sectors and has also highlighted pre-existing weaknesses in freight and logistics supply chains,” she says. “In the area of trade, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is working with the Australian and overseas governments to improve digital trade connectivity and platform interoperability. The objective is to develop better processes to support trade and regulation modernization.” Watson further adds that while the 12WCC will provide access to information and innovative ideas, it will also foster personal and organizational networks for collaboration not only on common commercial problems but also global business and societal issues. 

Richard Burge, Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Source: London Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Richard Burge, on the other hand, is clear in his expectations of 12WCC. “I hope we will address the role of the global chamber family in our fast changing and uncertain world, and create a new purpose for ourselves in promoting free, fair, and truly sustainable trade, shared prosperity and the contribution of business to peace,” he says. “Chambers of commerce have the challenge of providing the best possible support for businesses across the rapidly-changing range of issues they’re facing, with agility and in spite of ongoing uncertainty. So, we have to attract chambers from across the globe for us to have a meaningful world event. With Dubai’s location facilities and ease of access, it enables the WCC to be inclusive of even its farthest-flung chambers.”

With the 12WCC all set to take place in tandem with the ongoing Expo 2020, H.E. Buamim declares that the event "will be a Congress like no other," as it aims to put the spotlight on key challenges and opportunities for chambers across the globe. "Businesses and chambers participating in Expo 2020 Dubai and the 12WCC can tap into Dubai’s competitive advantages, explore new growth opportunities in the region and boost their global profile," he adds. "Both events -distinct yet in tandem- are plotting a course for a post-pandemic future for the world."

Held biennially in different parts of the world, the WCC serves as a platform for attendees to connect and strengthen relations with a diverse and international group of individuals, often representing more than 100 countries.

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