Mega-events and megaprojects

Mega-events and megaprojects

Mega-events are events with a global audience. They vary in type and organization, but the focus here is on those that have an itinerant character, occurring regularly in different places, and are awarded through a bidding process. These include the World’s Fair, the World Cups of various sports, regional athletic contests (e.g., Asian Games) and the Olympic Games. Since the second half of the 20th century, mega sporting events have surpassed other types of mega-events in terms of frequency and financial investment, a development linked to increasing media coverage and global reach.

Drawing on evaluations of past experiences of megaprojects and mega-events, this paper highlights important issues related to financial sustainability, governance and impacts. The core question is how to maximize the positive effects of mega-events and avoid losses and increased social tension?

Recommendations for enhancing the positive effects of mega-events:

  • strengthening impact assessment. Comprehensive environmental and social impact assessments, including detailed cost-benefit analyses, should be conducted prior to the decision to host any mega-event, and rigorous assessments should be carried out after the event is over. Independent experts, knowledgeable about the local context, preferably in close collaboration with experienced scholars, should conduct these studies
  • conducting public consultation throughout the process. In order to maximize social and economic inclusion, foster win-win solutions and check unlawful practices on the ground, ongoing public consultation is a crucial instrument to ensure that large-scale projects are not implemented against the will and interests of local populations
  • oversight. Greater public sector involvement is required to define and enforce regulatory regimes and oversight mechanisms, as implementation increasingly relies on a large number of private actors
  • post-event management. A legacy plan, detailing the long term maintenance needs of planned megaprojects, should be submitted by the organizing committee at an early stage, in order to ensure compliance with national legislation, including urban and regional plans, and to avoid putting future strain on municipal budgets
  • financial sustainability: Although most megaprojects require private capital, the public sector should remain in the driver’s seat to ensure accountability. However, public sector involvement should not extend to offering sovereign guarantees to lenders. To strengthen private sector responsibility, partners should be involved in designing performance-based projects


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