Driving sustainability as a key pillar of the Dubai Expo 2020, supporting further sustainable development in the UAE
Reported by: Erika Lindholm
Ever since the first Great Fair in London 1851 World Expos have excited and inspired millions of people around the world. World Expos have become one of the world’s largest and oldest mega-events, attracting millions of visitors who explore and discover pavilions, exhibits and cultural events staged by hundreds of participants including nations, international organisations and businesses.
The World Expo in Dubai in 2020 will be the first to be held in the MENA & SA (Middle East and North Africa & South Asia) region. The UAE has selected a theme called “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. Dubai’s Arabic name - Al Wasl - means ‘the connection’ and this is reflected in Dubai’s modern day position as a central hub between East and West. With an anticipated 25 million visits to the Dubai Expo, and 70 per cent of visitors predicted to come from overseas, it will be the most globally inclusive event in Expo history.
The vision for Expo 2020, according to the organisers, is about creating opportunity for the wider region and developing a global platform to showcase the innovative solutions required to address the future of Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity – the three sub themes for the Expo and key factors that has been identified as drivers for global development.
With a significant ecological footprint, according to the WWF Living Planet Report 2007, the UAE has taken major strides to reduce the ecological footprint per capita and continues to do so. In Dubai Etihad ESCO (Energy Service Company) was established in 2013 aiming to make Dubai one of the most sustainable cities in the world, and Dubai built environment a leading example of energy efficiency for the region and the world. Some of the things that are currently being done is changing all outdoor lighting to LED lights, increasing district cooling and retrofitting 30,000 of the buildings in Dubai to be more energy sufficient by 2030. The estimation is that the energy demand will be reduced by 20% by 2020 and by 30% by 2030.
Similarly, sustainability is a key priority for the design of Dubai Expo 2020 Master Plan, with detailed targets and strategies have been developed to ensure that sustainability is achieved in the design of Dubai Expo 2020 pavilions and related buildings and infrastructure. The ambition of Dubai Expo 2020 is to supply at least 50% of the Expo Site’s energy needs over its six-month duration with energy from renewable sources. Emphasis will be placed on integrating solar energy technologies into the Expo Site Master Plan.
Furthermore a 25% of reduction in consumption of water across the pavilions and buildings on-site is being targeted, along with a Waste Management Strategy that’s aiming to make sure that reusing materials is being done with the intention of maximising the opportunity of recycling waste material.
Post the 2020 Expo, the actual site is expected to enter a new phase of life where approximately 50 % of the assets built for the Expo will become operational and act as a key player in Dubai’s exhibition and conference business. These exhibitions and entertainment facilities create a smart city that will allow the development of the Dubai Trade Centre activities, and act as a new gateway to the new airport of Dubai that will be the largest airport in the world.
The Expo 2020 will create new opportunities for more research and development on new technologies that will be adapted especially for the demands of a sustainable UAE.
Source: CSR seminar “Building the Sustainability Momentum for UAE Expo 2020 and Beyond” organised by Embassy of Sweden in Abu Dhabi, Business Sweden – the Swedish Trade and Invest Council, and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Sandra Anani is passionate about sustainability, with over 19 years’ experience. She has dedicated her career to sustainable development and communications.