Expo 2020 has promised to be the most sustainable edition of the global gathering ever. But what does that mean, exactly? The event’s centerpiece is the dramatic Sustainability Pavilion, Terra. Designed by UK-based Grimshaw Architects, it was created to help visitors better understand the environmental challenges facing the world and to inspire action against climate change.
But Terra is most definitely not alone: there are 192 pavilions, not to mention special events, restaurants and other experiences, all aimed at offering a similar message. Over the coming weeks, Livehealthy is going to be taking a deep dive into some of the most interesting aspects of the event — and how they can help visitors come to understand not only what is going on with their planet, but how they might be able to help stop it.
Czech Republic Pavilion
It may be located right in the heart of Europe, but the Czech Republic’s focus in its Expo pavilion is desert cultivation. Found in the Sustainability Zone, the striking structure integrates and demonstrates the Czech-created Solar Air Water Earth Resource (known as SAWER). It is a ground-breaking project that hopes to bring water to the desert landscape.
The cutting-edge technology is composed of two systems, one of which is able to extract water from desert air, while the other harnesses that water to create fertile land. The brainchild of researchers at the Czech Technical University in Prague, SAWER — which is powered by solar energy too — is able to produce 200 liters of water per day from desert air. The Botanical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic has been working on a way to transform that water into a system that feeds desert-plant cultivation, which is an exciting development for countries in the Middle East.
Titled “Nature, Nurture, Future,” the Singapore Pavilion has created a rainforest from 80,000 plants, dry mist fans and a canopy shelter. The set-up requires around 155 megawatt hours of electricity and significant water, but it is a net-zero energy operation thanks to the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), which has installed 517 solar panels to cover those needs. Three climbing robots with sensors monitor environmental conditions to help care for the plants and can identify when the flora is healthy or sick.
“There are a lot of Singapore companies here exploring agritech, for example, in terms of trying to facilitate localization of high-tech farming, (to) increase yield, and these are efforts that are also much sought after by the United Arab Emirates,” according to the pavilion’s commissioner-general, Larry Ng.
Multi-sensory studio Bompas & Parr have created a biologically innovative menu that feature contributions and collaborations from the likes of the University of Cambridge and the UAE Space Agency. From vegan “bone marrow” to food that glows in the dark, expect a science-fiction-esque foodie experience that attempts to imagine what the future of dining might look like. Diners will also be served herbs grown in a high C02 environment simulated to resemble life in 2220 and aerogel meringues.
Marjan Faraidooni, chief experience officer of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “The Future of Food immersive experience is extremely exciting, offering foodies and the curious a world-first taste of the culinary experiences of tomorrow, while also delving into global challenges based around food security and how innovation and food will combine in the future.”
Israel’s participation in Expo 2020 is seen as a significant milestone in the normalization of relations, and the Israel Pavilion has made its focus the environment, showcasing the nation’s innovations in agriculture and water supply, as well as medicine. “Our pavilion is made of things that integrate us, that show how similar we are,” said Menachem Gantz, Israel Pavilion spokesman. On October 4, the Israel Pavilion hosted a symposium on “Innovation for the global and regional fight against climate change” and included a speech from Israel’s minister of environmental protection, Tamar Zandberg. It was the first of a number of environmental-focused events to be hosted by the Israeli delegation during Expo 2020.
New Zealand Pavilion
Unsurprising for a country boasting an impressive landscape, conservation and sustainability are at the center of New Zealand’s agenda at Expo 2020. There is a packed line-up of speakers and panel discussions throughout October, including “Getting Creative to Fight Biodiversity Loss, People’s Promise for Climate Impact and Transforming Energy in Small Island Developing States.” The pavilion’s Expo theme is “Care for People and Place“ and stems from the Maori ethos that humans and nature are inextricably connected.
“Every element of the pavilion is interconnected; from the immersive visitor experience and storytelling rooms inside the pavilion, to the ‘pulse,’ which starts in our river room and ripples all the way to the exterior façade,” said Clayton Kimpton, New Zealand’s commissioner-general to Expo 2020 Dubai. “I really hope that visitors are inspired by this experience to think about their own relationship to nature and how they can have a positive impact on the world around them.”
There is a local sustainability connection too, with homegrown UAE brand Raw Coffee the New Zealand Pavilion’s official coffee partner. Raw will be taking the opportunity to educate visitors about the importance of ethically sourced coffee and the people involved in the supply chain.
Mark is a Dubai-based writer who has couch-surfed through Ukraine, broken bread with football fans in Basra, and appeared on a boxing reality TV show in the UAE – all in pursuit of a good story. Or at least an average anecdote.