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Unlocking the Future of Conferencing: Review of expanded meeting modalities


In an era of rapid change and paramount global challenges, the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) plays a pivotal role in facilitating multilateral negotiations and fostering international collaboration. What would be the ideal setting for negotiations to succeed? A study on the use of a full array of meeting modalities, from in-person to hybrid and virtual formats as well as webcasting, offers latest insights into the needs and expectations of Geneva clients. It records challenges and lessons learnt, and compares strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of different scenarios. 


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The UN Geneva multi-track initiative Conferencing Today and Tomorrow was launched by the Division of Conference Management (DCM) in November 2018 as part of ongoing efforts to build on our relationship and engagement with client organisations, to identify how major external trends (economic, technological, social, environmental etc.), as well as internal trends within the UN may lead to changes in the conferencing support requirements of clients. 

The phase one of the initiative aimed to visualize and identify how DCM can adapt, plan and innovate to respond to these changing needs.

Since the COVID-19 crisis, working remotely and attending meetings online have become routine. What did we learn during this time and how could we take advantage from this experience? Phase two of the project, Conferencing Today and Tomorrow - 2 (CTT-2) served to collect feedback from clients to understand how COVID-19 changed their activities in terms of organizing conferences, and how they envisaged future meeting experiences post-COVID-19. 

The CTT-2 research included a survey, one-to-one interviews, focus groups and a series of events, covering more than 400 stakeholders in conference organization. The findings have been published in a project report (PDF file)

Video series on innovation in conferencing


How can the latest technology improve our interactive meeting experience? How useful is it to recreate conference centres in the metaverse? Is artificial intelligence as good as humans in summarizing UN meetings?

The CTT-2 initiative promotes conversations about developments in the world of conferences and events and how they could be used to enhance meeting experiences at the UN. The aim: creating the best possible conditions for UN Member States and other stakeholders to convene, discuss and negotiate to resolve the urgent issues of our time.

The CTT-2 video series explores topics that may inspire our thinking about how we want to meet at the UN in Geneva:

1. The future of Meetings
2. Virtual Event Platforms
3. The Multilingual Document of the Future
4. Speech-Enabled Post-Editing of Machine Translation
5. HumAInizing Humans - How can AI Augment our Meetings?

These episodes were recorded during InnoVent 2: Innovation in Conferencing (2023)
Please note that the videos are only available in English.

International Geneva Task Force

In autumn 2021, following an initiative of the Director-General of the UN in Geneva, the International Geneva Task Force (IGTF) of conference-organizing entities was launched. Coordinated by the CTT-2 team and with support from the Permanent Mission of Switzerland, the IGTF kicked-off with a series of luncheons to discuss contemporary challenges and dynamics of conference organization and how the opportunities of modern technology and of the Geneva network could be leveraged. To build capacities to be ready for future developments, a series of strategic foresight workshops was organized in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Going forward, the network will continue to offer opportunities to exchange and develop joint strategies to ensure that International Geneva is a hub for modern conferencing. 

Geneva is the birthplace of multilateralism. It is nowadays the place where new working methods of multilateralism are being tested. I’m thinking of the innovation related to COVID-19 as well as of the discussion series on the “Future of Conferencing” we initiated together with UNOG.

Ignacio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Switzerland, in his speech “Reinventing multilateralism through international Geneva” at World Economic Forum in Davos, 2023


UNIGE students in the driving seat to make innovation and future foresight part of conference organization at UN Geneva

March - May 2023

UNIGE students challenge 2023

What does it take to make UN conference organization ready for the future? To generate some fresh ideas, the Conferencing Today & Tomorrow - 2 (CTT-2) team put this challenge out to students of the Master’s in Responsible Management at the University of Geneva (UNIGE).

In a first step, student had to familiarize with meeting organization at the UN. Then they stepped into the roles of the key stakeholders of conferencing. To ideate their future needs and aspirations, the groups took the perspective of Member States, conference secretariats, NGOs and the private sector, or looked into greening conference operations and enhancing accessibility. Students followed up with their own research and interviews and came back to present their analysis and recommendations to UN colleagues who were very impressed with their work.

Some of their ideas, we thought, were worth noting:

  • In a Physicalia scenario where meetings take place in-person only, new funding mechanisms were suggested to facilitate participation of delegates from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and NGOs. Overall, students advocated for a more inclusive discussion by fostering NGO and private sector engagement. Several groups also suggested an extension of the Indico.UN platform to host more services.
  • To manage a Hybridopia scenario where meetings routinely take place with the option of both, in-person and online participation, students suggested using more AI and other technology to automate complex internal planning process. To support people with hearing difficulties, the accessibility group put forward ideas about using AI-powered photorealistic synthetic sign interpreters and Natural Language Processing technologies to transform signed information into text or speech.
  • To be prepared for a Metaland scenario where meetings take place predominantly in the metaverse, students recommended creating UNOG’s own metaverse, a virtual Palais des Nations. VR-kits with goggles could be lent to NGOs, allowing them to join meetings from where they are.

Regardless of the scenario, several groups advised the UN to establish a permanent Innovation Division and an emerging technologies fund to increase the related resources.

Some of the students’ ideas may sound too far off into the future. But as we have seen with COVID, the future sometimes may be closer than we think.

What are your thoughts about making conference organization ready for the future? Write to us at

Viviane Brunne, Conferencing Today & Tomorrow – 2

Innovent 2 Logo

Innovent 2 - Innovation in Conferencing

Thursday, 30 March 2023


InnoVent 2 was a one-day opportunity to experience innovation in conferencing, exchange with leading experts about the future of meeting organization and immerse in the international Geneva conference ecosystem.

The event aimed to promote exchange about latest post-COVID-19 trends and developments in conference organization, discussing opportunities and challenges and ways to ensure that international Geneva is a hub for modern conferencing. 

Programme tracks included:

  • How we meet
  • How we translate
  • How we interpret
  • How we design and publish
  • How we ensure accessibility

This event was inspired by the previous InnoVent: The future landscape of conferencing held in January 2020 (with digital recordings and other material still available on the event page). 

Video recording, slides and other material are being made available on the event page:

Knowledge & Learning Commons and CTT-2 Event:  Shape the conferences of tomorrow!

Thursday, 21 October 2021

In March 2020, conferencing stopped at the Palais des Nations. In the months since then UNOG and conference organizers brought remote participation into the mainstream, equipping rooms, training staff, and facing challenges. This new way of conferencing is more than business continuity – it opens opportunities. What works well? What doesn’t? What’s missing? Join the discussion to tell us how remote participation changed your experience of conferencing and share ideas for how we can use today’s experience for improving the future.


The recording of the event is available here:

Additional resources can be found on the Commons website here: : Shape the conferences of tomorrow! Conferencing Today and Tomorrow 2 | Knowledge and Learning Commons (


Kira Kruglikova, Director, Division of Conference Management (DCM)

Isabelle Valentiny, Deputy Chief of Staff / Coordinator of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 15 (UNCTAD)

Jonas Pasquier, Head of Global Affairs, Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN

Moderators from DCM and Library & Archives Geneva

Knowledge & Learning Commons and CTT-2 Event: COP26: setting the tone for the conferences of tomorrow!

Wednesday, 24 November 2021



The recording of the event is available here

PowerPoint presentation: Welcome to the (

Additional resources can be found on the Commons website


Michelle Keating, Chief, Languages Service, DCM
Laura Lopez, Director, Conference Affairs Services at UNFCCC
Helen Wright, Deputy Director Events for COP 26, UK Government
Victoria Busby, Director of Protocol, FCDO and  Vice-Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps,  United Kingdom Government
Kira Kruglikova, Director, Division of Conference Management (DCM)


Jonathan Morgan, Project Lead CTT-2 and from the Library & Archives Geneva