Expo 2020: UAE Making Strides in Sustainability
On October 1, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will kick off its six-month Expo 2020 Dubai, which will convene experts from around the world to push forward the clean energy and sustainability agenda. The Expo, which is considered the largest event of its kind in the world, will cover a broad range of topics related to sustainability, including planning, design, operational implementation, smart technology, mobility, and more.
The event was originally slated to take place last year. However, it was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. As nations around the world begin to strategize post-pandemic recovery efforts, Expo 2020 Dubai could play a critical role. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation stated “The UAE will always remain the land of opportunity, the home of tolerance and coexistence, the incubator of cultural diversity and the beacon of science and knowledge. Through our hosting of Expo 2020 Dubai and our membership in the Security Council for the period 2022-2023, we look forward to strengthening international cooperation and working with countries and multilateral institutions to support stability, development, and moving forward on the path to recovery from the pandemic.”
Over the past several years, the UAE has made significant progress towards becoming a global leader in clean energy and sustainability. Developing and promoting sustainable environmental and infrastructure policies and practices is one of the six key pillars of the country’s UAE Vision 2021. UAE Vision 2021 was launched by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in 2010. The strategic plan aims to establish the UAE as one of the most developed and innovative countries in the world. Sustainability and green-friendly practices are also critical components of the Dubai Plan 2021. Launched in 2014, the Plan aims to develop six key areas of life—The People; The Society; The Experience; The Place; The Economy; and The Government—in order to prepare the city for the future.
The impact of such strategic efforts is already visible today as initiatives seeking to help the UAE diversify its economy, develop nuclear reactors to generate electricity, boost local production in order to augment food security, and construct sustainable buildings have taken off across the country. Notably, the UAE has been able to make significant strides in promoting clean energy and sustainability because of private sector buy-in. For example, Wilo Middle East, a UAE-based company that provides pumps and pump systems for water management, buildings, and industrial services, has publicly committed to and aligned its operations with several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to environmental sustainability and climate change.
The site of the Expo 2020 Dubai, known as the Sustainability pavilion, is itself a reflection of the investments and advancements that the UAE has made over the past few years. The net-zero energy structure is fitted with photovoltaic panels to decrease energy consumption, water-efficient technologies, and more.
In addition to the upcoming Expo event, the UAE is also hosting numerous other events, which will bring together government and private sector entities working to advance sustainability goals around the world. For example, next January, the UAE will once again host the annual World Future Energy Summit, as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. The Summit will be one of the first major events of its type since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.