Cancellation of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP25, in Santiago was unprecedented. The GL events Group, commissioned to create a vast and complex infrastructure and delivery solution for the summit by Fundacion Imagen del Chile, demonstrated enormous passion, creativity and agility in its on-time delivery of the relocated conference, which took place in Madrid, in December 2019.

GL events’ total conference solution for COP25 Chile was designed and delivered by a 200-strong international production task force. We designed and created bespoke temporary infrastructure on a huge scale in response to a brief encompassing everything from civil works, sanitation and waste management, 85,000sqm of fully-equipped temporary structures, landscaping, logistics, power generation and electrical distribution, IT infrastructure, HVAC, CCTV, security, fencing and cleaning, through to fitout and signage, simultaneous translation, hospitality, catering event staffing and event management services.

However, after five months of work and with 90% of this immense project complete, extreme civil unrest in Santiago led to cancellation of the event on 31 October – one month before it was due to begin. Just two days later, its new location was confirmed as Madrid, 6,656 miles away, across the Atlantic Ocean and on the other side of the world. These developments handed GL events one of its greatest challenges to date.

GL events rose to the challenge. Just one day after the announcement, we had our first conversation with IFEMA, the Madrid-based consortium tasked with bringing COP25 to Spain, to discuss the new brief and propose our solution. Four days later, our project leads, technical and design managers left Chile for Madrid, to begin work on the new plans.

While establishing its collaboration with IFEMA, GL events maintained excellent communications with the Chilean Government and the United Nations, our primary client; confirming its full commitment to delivering infrastructure for delegations from all participating countries. On top of this, we were able to reassure the governments and agencies of 80 countries, who were attending the event and relying on GL events to deliver temporary infrastructure, that we would deliver despite the many challenges.

On November 11, our delegations team moved to Madrid and immediately began installing temporary pavilions and offices for delegates, sourcing equipment from GL events’ European stocks wherever possible. Equipment that could not be locally sourced was rapidly transported from Santiago in cargo planes, ready for immediate installation on-site in Madrid.

On November 25, just three weeks after our initial contact, GL events signed a contract with IFEMA for delivery of 12,000sqm of temporary structures at COP25 in Madrid. We successfully designed and delivered 42 pavilions, complete with fit-out comprising flooring, partitions, furniture and signage, screens and doors, floral decorations and living plant walls; as well as simultaneous translation booths and a massive array of audio visual and IT equipment – all managed from a master control room, on behalf of 80 delegations.

GL events’ achievement in bringing about this incredible feat is testament to its professionalism, expertise, trusted reputation and willingness to work in good faith with commercial partners and clients to make events happen, whatever the challenges. It is an endorsement of our belief in the fact that a visionary and empowered production team of global colleagues can achieve the seemingly impossible.

GL events is vastly experienced in the production and delivery of sensitive multi-national political events, having delivered infrastructure for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP20), in Lima 2014, in Paris 2015, Marrakech 2016, Bonn 2017 and Katowice in 2018. Key to the delivery of every COP collaboration has been management of GL events’ carbon footprint to ensure that the event is carbon neutral.