An Interview with Aaron Etra

Aaron Etra is the co-founder of the Institute for Life Sciences Collaboration, which organizes two series of international life sciences conferences (ICMAN and ICNODAT) and fosters ongoing cooperation among organizations worldwide under the auspices of the GHCA.

He has long represented NGOs at the United Nations, which he also served as an official in Geneva, and is Chair of the Executive Committee of the Council of Organizations (COO) of the United Nations Association of the USA.

Aaron has taken some time to discuss his extensive experience, and views on critical industry issues including impacts, youth engagement and legacy; beginning with his role at COO.

Aaron said: “The COO is a federation of NGOs whose establishment dates back to the formation of the United Nations and whose role is to support the work of the UN in all its aspects and worldwide.”

“I Chair an Executive Committee of 23 persons drawn from the member organizations which itself undertakes programs and projects, while also encouraging partnering among its member organizations and with other organizations and networks in the U.S. and internationally.”

The UN Sustainable Development Goals form an important component of impact measurement for associations with, “several forums in which associations and other NGOs meet, interact, report and review the progress toward meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030”

“I would like to encourage even greater participation and discuss such opportunities at the length they deserve. Measurements of societal impact are included in the indicators developed for measuring progress toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These have drawn on expertise from all quarters worldwide and provide a universally applicable database.”

BestCities is passionate about the importance of engaging youth in the industry; something Aaron shares. “I have always encouraged and been encouraged by the involvement of youth in organizations, believing that their infusion of innovation and enthusiasm is essential for the health and growth of associations and the MICE industry”, he says.

“The ability to participate, engage and have meaningful impact on policy and practice is what draws youth to the likes of the High-Level Political Forum and the 67thAnnual UN DPI/NGO Conference that just concluded at UN Headquarters. Youth can and should question current policies and action, provide fresh insights and perspectives, demand changes where felt necessary and hold all stakeholders to fulfilling their respective roles.”

“It is essential to bring MICE in closer touch with the aspirations and priorities of the world’s youth. The challenge is to convince the next generations that they can indeed further their goals, at least in part, through participating in MICE programs and projects.”

Engaging the next generation is critical, with obvious global benefits, which Aaron describes as, “refreshing both the leadership and membership with new energy, enthusiasm, talent and belief in the future.” He continues “It presents opportunities for all parties to learn, diversify the industry and create a whole new generation of future leaders in the MICE industry.”

“BestCities Global Alliance can ensure that its members are tuned into worldwide opportunities for youth engagement and legacy, both in respect of subject matter and modalities. It can inform and assist its members and their constituents in assuming the roles they can play in the issues of the present and the future which will improve their functioning and enhance their relevance.”