ILO hosts first-ever virtual exhibition on sustainable enterprises

ILO hosts first-ever virtual exhibition on sustainable enterprises

How individuals and ideas connected remotely to promote innovation and decent work

Virtual lobby

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,” projected Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM in 1943.

What may have seemed like a ridiculous invention at first has now become a common object in our daily lives. In the end, tradition is successful innovation. When faced with a crisis, we find creative ways to reimagine and restructure our ways of living. It was no different for this year’s Global Technical Team (GTT) meeting of the ILO Enterprises Department.

virtual exhibition
A fair for the future

Normally a global in-person gathering, the GTT brings together technical staff both at headquarters and in the field around the world to discuss and review the strategy for the coming years. With the global pandemic still in full swing, this format had to be transformed.

How might we ignite discussions and create the same dynamics of a global knowledge-sharing event while at a distance? Here at the ITCILO, we found a solution: a virtual ecosystem with live engagement opportunities for visitors.


This is innovation in motion.

Andreas Klemmer
ITCILO Training Director

On 22 and 23 February, the almost 200 GTT members meandered through the virtual lobby to arrive in their seats for the live discussion in the virtual auditorium. Martha Newton, ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy, inaugurated the sessions with a call to action: “The future success of the ILO will be defined by how we combine digital advances to support the wellbeing of people.”

This virtual event format not only reduced the carbon footprint of visitors needing to travel but also allowed for greater inclusion to reach global audiences. This was especially reflected on 23 February, when the event doors opened up to nearly 400 ILO staff for the virtual sustainable enterprise exhibition.

Sustainable enterprises: Generators of resilience

The virtual exhibition had one goal: to highlight how sustainable enterprises act as generators of employment, and promotors of innovation and decent work. Project leaders, sustainability experts, and business creators showcased their best practices and innovative business solutions with a global crowd.


We’ve got to appreciate that the world is optimizing digitalization and technology. But we have to keep the human element using innovation to our advantage.

Vic van Vuuren
ILO Enterprises Department Director 

Harnessing the human side, the nearly 20 virtual booths allowed visitors to watch, read, and download resources related to a project or approach. Live webinars, Q&A sessions, and engaging chats connected individuals on a range of topics:

  • Supporting enterprises in the ecological transition
  • Productivity and working conditions
  • And many more

A midday plenary session also gave visitors space to further reflect on innovation and digitization today: “How can we scale up? How could we reach global impact? To what extent can we be more innovative?”


Innovation and creativity are more than new buzzwords.

Martha Newton
ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy

Visitors departed the exhibition with increased knowledge on sustainable business practices, new connections from across the ILO, and an inspired common purpose to promote decent work in all enterprises.

Seizing the opportunity to host the GTT Meeting in a new, interactive format paved the way to rethink how digital events can become portals of inclusive peer-to-peer learning and exchange in the future. This innovation may very well be on its way to becoming a tradition.

Curious to learn more about virtual large-scale events? Discover our portfolio of possibilities.