The events program in the ULI’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa region was remarkably resilient to the impact of COVID-19 during fiscal year 2020, with ULI Europe quickly adapting a successful digital approach to showcase thought leadership in the real estate industry.
In-person events that took place before the pandemic included a ULI Europe Leadership Retreat in Lisbon on September 26–28, 2019. Forty-five senior industry leaders and 21 partners had the opportunity to network and share ideas on thought-provoking themes in a relaxed environment. Former NASA astronaut Jeffrey A. Hoffman speaking on space travel was one highlight of this exclusive invitation-only gathering, which brought together top real estate leaders and their partners to experience the culture and history of the Portuguese capital.
The annual Young Leaders Summer School took place at the same time in Lisbon. Thirty-nine ULI members under age 35 from 11 European countries enjoyed a full program exploring a variety of topics. [IMAGE: Sharing Best Practices_EMEA Meetings (Conference audience)]
Later in the fiscal year, the region held its biggest flagship event yet: nearly 750 key decision-makers from the real estate industry gathered in Amsterdam from February 3 to 5 to attend the 2020 ULI Europe Conference. Highlights included site tours of the Dutch capital, networking with the brightest and best of global real estate, inspiring talks from world-renowned industry leaders, and the conference dinner at the Beurs van Berlage, with keynote speaker Daniel L. Doctoroff, chairman and chief executive officer of Sidewalk Labs.
The main conference sessions, held at the Hotel Okura, covered a range of topical subjects:
- A debate between ULI Global Board member François Trausch, chief executive officer of Allianz Real Estate, and Christina Gaw, managing principal and head of capital markets at Gaw Capital Partners, on the role of property investors and operators in responding to changing demands;
- A session on climate change mitigation and adaptation impact featuring Dirk Brounen, professor of real estate at Tilburg University; Maarten Jennen, senior director at PGGM Investments; and conference moderator Andrea Carpenter, director of Women Talk Real Estate; and
- Keynote speaker Ruud Veltenaar, philosopher, serial entrepreneur, business leader, and impact investor, explaining key ingredients for a sustainable business model and discussing the need for businesses and cities to deal promptly with climate change and social issues.
The main conference sessions were complemented by a dedicated Young Leaders Forum (for attendees under age 35) and a NEXT Forum (for attendees age 35 to 45). Product council meetings also took place for ULI full members, with forums also open to all conference attendees on the topics of creative placemaking, life sciences, living concepts, and urban development and infrastructure.
As part of the conference, a special celebration dinner was held for the ULI European Leadership Awards. Renowned real estate entrepreneur Wolfgang Egger, who founded Patrizia AG more than 35 years ago, was presented with the 2020 ULI European Leader Award, and rising star Hala El Akl, a director at PLP Architecture, was named winner of the ULI European Talent Award. The awards recognize industry leaders in the EMEA region whose contributions to urban development and real estate, along with civic and social endeavours, exemplify the spirit and mission of ULI.
Highlights of the 2020 ULI Europe Conference and other Institute meetings are available at Knowledge Finder.