Dubai: From being the first Latin American country to ban single-use plastics to aiming for the cheapest production of green hydrogen in the world, Chile is making headway in sustainability – a theme central to Expo 2020 Dubai. “We’re moving into non-carbon in 2030,” says Jorge Daccarett, Ambassador of Chile to the UAE and Commissioner General of the Chile Pavilion, in an interview with Gulf News.
“This is one of our commitments towards climate change and a sustainable future for our kids. We understand that this is one of the pillars of the UAE as well.”
We’re moving into non-carbon in 2030. This is one of our commitments towards climate change and a sustainable future for our kids. We understand that this is one of the pillars of the UAE as well.
Initially based in the Sustainability thematic district, the pavilion saw renewed opportunity in participating under the Mobility banner and so they moved their pavilion. “Part of sustainability is also electric mobility, and we are very important producers of copper and lithium, which [are] used in electric cars,” he explains.
German car manufacturer Porsche and Siemens Energy have already partnered up to make the most of Southern Chile’s favourable wind conditions to produce synthetic fuel from green hydrogen, which is part of Chile's pavilion presentation.
Budget constraints brought about by the unforeseen pandemic drove Chile to opt for a modest yet symbolic pavilion design rather than the original costly blueprint.
What would have been a wooden structure inspired by Latin American nomadic shelters is now a red, rectangular building much like the Chilean research bases set up on the cold continent of Antarctica.
“In Antarctica, we’re also monitoring climate change [with regards to] how it affects the melting of the ice and the rising sea levels. The pavilion is like a statement – that we care about our environment,” adds Daccarett.
With sanitation being a common thread of concern, Chile, the world’s largest producer of copper, will be bringing its antimicrobial nano-copper technology to Dubai to coat the pavilion building and its common touch points with the mineral. “Copper dust will be mixed with the paint,” says Daccarett, according to whom, the timely technology brought by Santiago-based Industrial Nano and Antofagasta-based G-Process will be one of the highlights to look forward to at the Chile Pavilion.
Another Chilean company, Via Deco Home, will provide antibacterial copper placemats for the tables at the pavilion.
Opportunities for food security and renewable energy
Exhibitions at the Chilean pavilion will fall under three broad topics of ‘Renewable energy and sustainability’, ‘Food security’, and ‘Innovation, start-ups and entrepreneurship’.
To keep things interesting, the pavilion will update its rota of exhibits weekly, allowing Chilean firms to showcase their products while still preserving an element of surprise. “[The visitors] will have a new experience every time they visit,” says Daccarett.
Chilean small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) look forward to receiving an export boost from the UAE, whose advancements in food security, especially in aquaculture, impress Daccarett. “They’re producing salmon here, which is amazing because we grow salmons naturally in fjords but [the UAE] is growing them in pools.”
Chile’s focus in the upcoming World Expo differs from its preceding participations – the Latin American nation is zeroing in on potential investors from the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, hoping to share its resources and knowhow in the areas of food security and renewable energy.
Sustainability will also remain at the heart of the Chilean discourse with the pavilion drawing attention to climate change and ocean protection, a topic most relevant to a nation with 6,435km of coastline.
Chilean-Arab integration week
Though the Chile pavilion will not be a markedly cultural showcase, it will pay tribute to its Arab diaspora through a Chilean-Arab integration week. “We’re going to tell a story of the Arabs in Chile – how they arrived and became one of the largest communities in [the country].”
Daccarett says visitors might even get to meet Chilean footballers Luis Antonio Jimenez and Carlos Villanueva from the Santiago-based Club Deportivo Palestino football club, who have played before in the UAE. Part of the programme includes selling signed merchandise such as T-shirts and playing football with children on the pavilion’s dedicated stage.
Folk dance groups and similar cultural activities will take place on Chile’s national day on December 3, 2021, as allocated by the Expo organisers.
A fortunate turn of events
Chile sees Expo 2020 Dubai as a lucrative link to expand its trade portfolio into the broader Mena and Gulf regions. “Everyone is working on how to recover their economies post-pandemic,” comments Daccarett, “so we thought this was an excellent showcase to be present at with our products.”
Everyone is working on how to recover their economies post-pandemic, so we thought this was an excellent showcase to be present at with our products. We’re happy and especially grateful to the Expo team and Reem Al Hashimi (Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai) because they were very open and flexible in making [our participation] happen.
“We’re happy and especially grateful to the Expo team and Reem Al Hashimi (Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai) because they were very open and flexible in making [our participation] happen.”
- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.