Thought leadership is a critical component in business growth strategy—it provides an opportunity for organizations to stand out, advocate for an issue and make a positive contribution in the world. While globalization has further complicated many social and environmental issues, working to solve some of the challenges addressed by international organizations—such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—provides a valuable guideline for companies to enhance their business foundation.
Major global events also provide excellent platforms for companies to demonstrate and strengthen their thought leadership in tackling global issues. These events are now increasingly focused on the need for creating a legacy that solves social issues, instead of being transient events.
In 2020, there will be multiple major international events working to develop tangible and intangible legacies for future generations, that businesses can leverage to showcase and further develop their thought leadership efforts.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government—host of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games —is aiming to help build a diverse and inclusive society with people of different backgrounds and disabilities. Tokyo will be working collaboratively with foreign companies in supporting employees from outside of Japan so that they can live a safe and fulfilling life in Tokyo. The support will be expanded after the games to further create an environment where foreigners can actively work and live in the city.
Also, Tokyo is formulating the accessibility guidelines for operating the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will promote developing a universal city design that considers people with disabilities, leaving a legacy lasting long after the games are over. The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be a platform for the Japanese government and global corporations to showcase their capability and thought leadership to build an inclusive future for all people, no matter who they are.
World Masters Games
The world’s largest lifelong sports competition consists of two major quadrennial events: Winter Games and Summer Games. The Winter World Masters Games (WMG) 2020, to be held in Innsbruck, Austria, aims to create a sustainable future by setting new perspectives and standards for the use of the facilities and infrastructure after the event.
The next Summer WMG will be held in the Kansai region of Japan in 2021 and the organizing committee—consisting of the central government, local government, business associations, sports associations and universities—is already actively working to develop a legacy. The Legacy Creation Project has been launched for the WMG Kansai by the Legacy Creation Committee, which includes experts from various fields to address social system changes necessary for an inclusive society with people of different ages, various gender identities, different nationalities, and disabilities. A dedicated committee and regular expert meetings have been set up to discuss what goals should be achieved through the sports competition to benefit the next generation.
The Summer WMG is also collaborating with the organizers of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020. They hope to strengthen the momentum of creating a legacy for the next generation, changing the mindset of “being inclusive” through sports, which continues on after the event. They are focusing on the theme of empowering the young generation who inherits the legacy.
There have been multiple programs led collaboratively by local governments and companies, including “Shibuya 100 Residents Future Co-Creation Project” that engage young people to design the Shibuya of the future, as well as “The Next Generation Co-Creation Symposium/Workshop” where the youth can discuss social inclusion and other issues.
Expo 2020 Dubai
The world exposition will be held in the Middle East and North Africa region for the first time, from October 2020 through to April 2021, with the main theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating Future.” It intends to leave economic, physical and social legacy, while creating inspirational narratives to keep inspiring the younger generations after the exhibition.
The Expo will showcase innovative solutions to social challenges, and after the closing ceremony, exhibition facilities will be transformed or repurposed into research, educational, cultural and business facilities—further boosting the economy and evoking people’s awareness towards sustainability.
The 2020 Expo will not be just a one-time big event; it will be a driver for nations, countries and the public to continue to support the solutions for global challenges.
Opportunities for Business Development
These global events unite the public and private sectors, as well as academia and citizens to create a new future. They present important opportunities for companies to exert thought leadership, while aligning business strategies with what they aim to achieve (i.e., their long-term legacy).
Companies should capitalize on large-scale global events to establish and enhance their presence in the society by creating a platform for young voices to be heard and ideas to be explored, collaborating with policymakers and industry leaders. The youth is a common focus as a legacy inheritor—across the major events, or even across the aging countries—and is a critical target for companies’ thought leadership.