Dubai: As the world around us drastically changed during the pandemic, so did we. Thoughts about our future, our priorities and perspectives shifted in ways we could not predict. This is exactly what the Expo 2020 Dubai sought out to investigate in their global survey, which asked 22,000 people across 24 countries questions about the future of the world in relation to the three subthemes of the Expo: Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity.
Are you optimistic about the future of global travel? Are you likely to use less single-use plastic? Is increasing opportunity for youth important moving forward? These were some of the questions that the respondents were asked to reflect upon; the survey explored perceptions surrounding sustainable travel, health and wellness, harnessing tech and innovation, gender equality and the development of urban and rural communities.
Reem Al Hashimi, Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “As we learn to live with a changed world and rebuild from COVID-19, some things remain constant, such as our desire to reach out to one another, between communities and across borders, to enable progress through the exchange of knowledge, ideas and perspectives. We are eager to see a new era of global cooperation, one that equips us to deal with real-world challenges in the pursuit of sustainable prosperity for all.”
Majority for international cooperation, an Expo 2020 pillar
The survey conducted in 2021, in partnership with YouGov, found that 86 per cent of people agreed international cooperation was crucial to solving challenges like the pandemic. And more than half of the respondents said that sharing expertise, innovations and collaborations between individuals and larger communities was imperative to overcome humanity’s obstacles, subsequently ensuring a more harmonious future.
With these statistics in mind, perhaps there is no better time to host Expo 2020 than this coming October. The world fair is the first to be held in the post-pandemic era; an era that has been widely characterised by desolation and unusual tribulations. The World Expos have a well-established history in bringing the world together, reviving spirits and accelerating human progress - precisely the same goals that Expo 2020 is hoping to achieve under the theme of 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future'.
The Programme for People and the Planet will harness the connecting power of World Expos to catalyst change; it includes more than 220 events from large forums to seminars.
Maha Al Gergawi, Senior Vice President of Political Affairs, Expo 2020 Dubai, told Gulf News in an interview of Expo’s plans to introduce collaboration and unity into its programmes: “The Programme for People and the Planet will harness the connecting power of World Expos to catalyst change; it includes more than 220 events from large forums to seminars.
“Thrive Together is Expo’s dedicated business focused programme which also focuses on collaboration, offering a range of curated networking, knowledge-sharing and thought leadership events. Expo’s Art and Culture Programme brings together leading artists and designers from the UAE, the region and the world.”
UAE most hopeful for a sustainable future
Amongst all of the notable findings, 72 per cent of UAE respondents had optimism for a global sustainable future, one of the highest as compared to other countries. According to Al Gergawi, this number reflects the UAE government’s efforts to move towards a more sustainable urban model through the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan.
She added: “Expo 2020 is driving conversations around future sustainable solutions. With more than 130 buildings featuring smart sustainable technologies, including Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion. It is capable of generating 4GWh of energy from 4,912 solar panels arranged on its canopy and atop a series of ‘Energy Trees’. The pavilion is designed to be net-zero in water and energy use, and after Expo 2020 closes its doors, the site will transform into District 2020.”
Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, housed in its representative zone the Sustainability District, is rooted in edutainment, given that the pavilion will transition into a Children and Science Centre after Expo wraps up. Attractions such as the Gnasher and Wood-Wide-Web will make ocean pollution and forest conservation issues accessible to the youth visiting the Expo. All of this and more coversations around sustainability will be thoroughly explored in Expo school journeys curated for students studying in the UAE.
Expo 2020 Dubai, more relevant than ever before
The survey conducted in 2021 was the second time Expo conducted large-scale research of the attitudes surrounding sustainability, mobility and opportunity; the first Global Optimism Outlook Survey was held in 2019.
“The key findings have given us a robust view of global attitudes to the issues and values that matter most to Expo 2020 – highlighting how our World Expo is more relevant than ever before, offering a crucial platform to bring together people, communities and nations to build bridges, inspire action and deliver real-life solutions to real-life challenges, in the wake of the global pandemic,” said Al Gergawi.
The key findings have given us a robust view of global attitudes to the issues and values that matter most to Expo 2020 – highlighting how our World Expo is more relevant than ever before, offering a crucial platform to bring together people, communities and nations to build bridges, inspire action and deliver real-life solutions to real-life challenges, in the wake of the global pandemic.
• 61 per cent said that they were optimistic about the world’s sustainable future.
• 64 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 29 believed that there will be greater commitment to diversity and tolerance moving forward as compared to 47 per cent for respondents aged 40 plus.
• 89 per cent said that they will likely live in an urban centre moving forward.
• 52 per cent of respondents believe that greater collaboration between individuals and communities can shape a better future.
• 28 per cent ranked integrating more walking or biking into their lives as one of the top three changes they will adopt.
- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.