How hosting events powers economic and social transformation

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Continuing our series about how we are helping build a better working world, EY’s Richard Evans and Rohan Malik explain how major events can lead to transformational change for host cities and their citizens.

Hosting a major event can result in unprecedented levels of civil and commercial change and progress.

Many recent major events have delivered, as a direct or indirect consequence, a significant contribution to a better working world in a number of different ways:

  • Building trust and confidence in the economy - Major events encourage transparency within governments and their supply chains by making policymakers show how public money is being spent. They can also put a city or country on the world stage by showing its market potential.
  • Improving government effectiveness - The London 2012 Olympic Games taught the UK government several lessons in delivering big capital projects. These included how to avoid policy and delivery silos, the importance of cross-party political cooperation and how transparency can serve as a driver for cost reduction. Major events are also ideal opportunities for governments to deploy public-private partnerships that can reduce the burden on the public purse, while delivering a valuable commercial legacy.
  • Growing businesses sustainably and responsibly - Business supply chains stand to benefit from major events as they encourage private sector organizations to meet the fluctuating demands, as well the competitive pricing usually required. Companies are forced to look at their sourcing contracts and make improvements to meet strict international standards on sustainable procurement. Entrepreneurs, too, stand to benefit: a potential event supply chain of about US$25b encourages the development of new markets and services.
  • Giving investors better and more informed data for decision-making - Major events put countries and cities on the FDI watch list. In Brazil, the international promotion agency for the city of Rio de Janeiro has used the World Cup and Olympic Games to showcase the city and all it has to offer.
  • Promoting diversity and inclusiveness - The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles aims to “bring public attention to the talents and capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities, helping to change attitudes and break down barriers that excluded them from the mainstream of the community.” The London 2012 Paralympic Games led to a significant positive shift in perceptions of disabled people, according to a study.
  • Governments investing in their citizens - The largest of the major events require significant infrastructure improvements and often accelerate government spending plans by many years. These investments help the citizens of the host countries benefit from better roads, rail and other transport options, as well as improved environment conditions.
  • Developing talent, jobs and working standards - The need for skilled labor for construction of venues and supporting infrastructure often leads to an influx of expatriates, who leave a legacy of improved skills and experience for the local labor force. Where an event requires specific skills that a company does not have, the employer will have to invest in training their people.
  • Supporting economic growth - A Brazil 2014 World Cup study by EY and Fundação Getúlio Vargas in Brazil found that an estimated US$25b will have been added to Brazil’s GDP between 2010 and 2014.

Hosting a major event presents significant economic, social and infrastructure development opportunities, but only if the event is built into the investment plans of the city and country and not the other way around.

Read our article: Major events, major results