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Exhibition World | Report Under the volcanoes E ven before the devastating eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull, the exhibition industry's mind was on volcanoes. Some 60 leaders of the exhibition business from Latin American, Spain and Portugal met in Quito, Ecuador, a city surrounded by eight volcanoes. The event was the annual Latin American association AFIDA's annual meeting and the biennial gathering of UNIFIB, the broader Ibero- American union. Speakers from Europe and North America joined the gathering at the Eugenio Espejo Convention Centre, a colonial- style hospital building just outside the historic centre of the Ecuadorian capital. The focus of the meeting was sustainability, and the post- Congress visit to the Cotopaxi drove the point home. The 5,897m snow- capped peak towers above its surroundings in a glorious national park although guides point out that the snow line has been notably receding in recent years. Even so, seeing snow at the equator is awe- inspiring. Many different aspects of the industry are represented in AFIDA from smaller, less- developed markets through to the regional giant Brazil. The first two speakers, one from Ecuador's Ministry of Tourism and Christian Martin of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development/ SNV Inclusive Business initiative, focused on social entrepreneurship. The ministry suggested that social entrepreneurship programmes could fuel the development of sustainable tourism, including business events. Martin proposed that the events industry in the region could find ways to link small enterprises to larger partners and that there should be a focus on investment in rather than subsidies to these small businesses. AFIDA president, Colombia's Andrés López Valderama, suggested venues could act as the anchors of inclusive trade fair businesses, helping the small enterprises to improve their professionalism. UFI president Manfred Wutzlhofer, noted that sustainable initiatives don't have to come in one " big bang", but can be generated through many small steps leading to overall better performance. He encouraged delegates with the suggestion that " intelligent environmental protection has every chance of translating into efficient economics". Leigh Breslau of architects Skidmore, Owens Merrill presented delegates with sustainable highlights of two of his recent projects, the Zhongshan Exhibition Centre ( a recent UFI member) and the Virginia Beach Convention Centre. The Virginia Beach project includes many innovative features including robot window cleaners and rooms which turn off their own lights. Looking at Ecuador's friendly climate, he suggested that, rather than simply aping US or European models, some countries in the region might consider creating " non- buildings"; shelters which take advantage of local conditions and cultures. Reed's Marco Giberti talked about real incentives. " Make environmental wards real", he proposed. " People like trophies, but they like dollars better". He talked about the " Un techo para mi Pais" ( a ceiling over my country) home building programme his organisation is supporting and noted " let's not invent new NGOs. There are plenty to go around. Find the good ones and work with them". Echoing several of the speakers, he proposed " less conversation, more action". UFI's blog master and North American exhibitions educator Barry Sisskind wrapped up the meeting with a call for organisers to see " exhibitors as part of the solution to the creation of green events". Paul Woodward THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW. EXHIBITION- WORLD. NET| May 2010| 17 Chairman of Business Strategies Group and UFI regional manager for Asia Pacific, Paul Woodward, at the meeting of Latin American expo association AFIDA. Delegates pose near lake Limpiopung at 3,830 metres