Expo 2020 Dubai to catalyse the city's sustainability efforts

Going green is not only about cutting back - there are a multitude of opportunities, particularly for business
Expo 2020 Dubai to catalyse the city's sustainability efforts
Half the energy that will be used by Expo 2020 Dubai will come from renewable sources.
By Najeeb Mohammed Al Ali
Thu 01 Feb 2018 04:16 PM

We are at a pivotal point for preserving our planet. Our economic and technological success as a species is now tipping the balance between what humanity currently consumes and what the Earth can naturally supply and absorb. Experts predict that by 2050 there will be 2.6 billion more people on the planet. At the same time, the essential resources needed to sustain the population, including drinking water, arable land and fossil fuels are dwindling.

Meanwhile, climate change is influencing dramatic – and often unpredictable – new weather patterns and natural disasters. These events will inevitably have profound effects on the way we live and do business – just think of California’s recent devastating bushfires and mudslides.

By 2025, UNESCO estimates 1.8 billion people will be living in areas with absolute water scarcity. One in nine are currently undernourished. Another 1.4 billion have no access to electricity.

That is why now is a critical time to cultivate a more sustainable way of living and doing business to ensure viability of our natural resources for future generations. It is also why sustainability is one of the subthemes for Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo to be staged in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region.

An opportunity not a restraint

We aim to demonstrate that sustainability is not only about cutting back – there are a multitude of opportunities, particularly in business.

Expo 2020 will be an unprecedented opportunity not only to showcase the latest in sustainability technology and ideas, but to bring together innovators, entrepreneurs and policy-makers from around the world to help address the urgent need for better environmentally friendly solutions. Investment in renewable technologies and sustainable practices is expected to significantly rise, particularly after the Paris Agreement which came into force in November 2016. This presents potentially lucrative opportunities for fast-acting innovators and organisations.

Expo 2020 is already demonstrating this by collaborating with our official premier automotive partner, Nissan, to help shape the future of intelligent mobility, starting with a fleet that includes electric vehicles and next-generation cars featuring advanced technologies. Similarly, we are also working very closely with our official sustainable energy partner, DEWA, as we seek to deliver our Expo in as sustainable a way as possible.

Collaborations such as this create a powerful force behind new innovations and technologies that become more feasible when multiple stakeholders are involved. Expo 2020 has the opportunity to weave together the best ideas in energy production and storage, mobility solutions, smart building and smart cities. The possibilities are endless.

Public buy-in

Ultimately, technological solutions of any kind will fail to solve our greatest challenges if we do not also increase public awareness of sustainability principles and sustainable living.

Thus, Expo 2020 intends to engage and inspire millions of participants, collaborators and visitors to do more with less. Part of this, of course, means leading by example. Expo 2020 Dubai will deliver a sustainable World Expo and leave behind a sustainable legacy. This is not only on the event site but extends to the ways that we plan to influence and catalyse changes locally and globally.

From construction to delivery, on site we are combining passive strategies with cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions to reduce demand for energy, water and materials. For example, smart building and smart grid technology will complement passive strategies to reduce power consumption by 20 percent – or 150,000 megawatts per hour of energy that can power up to 20,000 UAE households a year.

In addition, all of Expo’s permanent buildings will achieve at least LEED Gold certification and ISO 20121 for sustainable event management. Beyond the event, at least 80 percent of Expo-built buildings and structures will continue on in District 2020. The Sustainability Pavilion will transform into a Children and Science Centre.

Global impact

We are also already making a difference around the world through Expo Live, Expo 2020’s $100m innovation and partnership programme that aims to make a lasting social impact by funding, accelerating and promoting creative solutions to improve society and preserve the planet.

Through Impact Grant Programme, Expo Live is already funding and supporting 45 global innovators from 30 countries.

Eighteen projects, including one in the UAE, focus on sustainability and include innovations that use high-flying kites to harness wind energy and solar-powered water purifiers.

UAE small businesses even benefitted from Expo 2020’s presence at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week this month. Every asset of the Expo stand is being reused, repurposed or recycled, with many assets given to SMEs and artists to repurpose for things such as furniture.

This is another example of how Expo 2020 is using collaboration to achieve its aim to contribute to the UAE’s renewable energy goals, increase public awareness about sustainable living, and serve as a catalyst for the development of sustainable solutions that are scalable, extending benefits to the wider economy.

Together hand in hand, we can generate a real impact in preserving our planet.

DEWA and Expo 2020

The two join hands for a cleaner future

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of DEWA, said its agreement with Expo 2020 Dubai supports the UAE’s strategy to increase the use of clean energy.

“This will result in Dubai having the lowest carbon footprint in the world, and advance the emirate’s position as a smart, competitive, integrated and interconnected city, with high-tech infrastructure to boost our social and economic development, and be counted among the world’s best.

We are committed to driving sustainability, which is a pillar for Expo 2020 Dubai.”

Najeeb Mohammed Al Ali, Executive Director, Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau

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