Top Expo City Dubai executives address a press conference on Tuesday. Seen above them is a map showing the green and blue zones. Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

Dubai: Free passes to Expo City Dubai have been announced for members of the public to access Green Zone activities of the UN Climate Summit COP28 which will open in 16 days.

Expo City Dubai, the venue of the largest UN Climate Change Conference, will be divided into two zones—Blue Zone and Green Zeeon—from Thursday, November 30 to Tuesday, December 12 for the event.

It will welcome visitors for an exciting programme of activities for COP28, with events spanning musicals and art exhibitions to captivating discussions and ‘green’ farming and dining taking place as part of the Green Zone – a space open to all members of the public to engage in climate education and action.

The Green Zone is open to delegates and guests of the Blue Zone, public and private sector, NGOs and the general public.

Access to Expo City Dubai’s pavilions and attractions in the Green Zone will be complimentary during COP28 – which will be open to the public with additional registration or ticketing requirements indicated for specific events. Visitors should register for a dated Green Zone Day Pass on the website of COP28, top executives of Expo City Dubai announced at a press conference on Tuesday.

The Blue Zone is a UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) managed site, open to accredited party and observer delegates.

“It will be restricted only to the heads of states, official delegates accredited Blue Zone delegates and accredited media. The Blue Zone includes the Rove Hotel and Dubai Exhibition Centre and until December 3, it will also include the Al Wasl Plaza,” said Hend Al Mheiri, Director, Special Projects Expo City Technology, Expo City Dubai.

Entry to these areas will be restricted from November 18.

Alongside an array of experiences presented by COP28 and its partners, the Green Zone will feature the iconic Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, an example of sustainable best practice in action that is also an established hub for sustainability-focused programming for families and youth – a legacy that will be reinforced during the summit.

New pavilion, farm

A new addition for the duration of COP28, the Expo City Dubai Pavilion will be a focal point for those who wish to learn about the city as a blueprint for sustainable living – one that enhances the quality of life of future residents as well as businesses that call it home. The Pavilion will also offer interactive events around climate change through the lens of gender equality, global leadership, the private sector, and more.

Another new – and permanent – fixture for Expo City Dubai, the Expo City Farm will make its debut as part of COP28’s Green Zone, featuring both indoor and outdoor spaces growing crops, fruits and vegetables. The farm will host community workshops and cooking classes with sustainability-minded chefs and professionals, open to youth and adults alike.

Alif – The Mobility Pavilion, the Vision Pavilion and the Women’s Pavilion will also be part of the Green Zone, as well as the immersive Al Wasl dome, the Surreal water feature and Al Forsan Park.

The Green Zone is an open space to promote dialogue and awareness around climate action, where all members of the public can have their voices heard. The Blue Zone is reserved for world leaders, government delegations and those accredited with the United Nations body tasked with coordinating the global response to the threat of climate change.

Inclusive COP

COP28 will be the first climate summit with a Green Zone located directly adjacent to the Blue Zone, enabling members of the public to participate in a milestone event to accelerate climate progress, including dedicated experiences for students led by the Expo School Programme.

Marjan Faraidooni, Chief of Education and Culture, Expo City Dubai, said: “As we get ready to welcome the world to our home again, we are reminded that Expo City Dubai has always been a convener, a platform for humanity and an enabler of progress towards a better future for people and planet. Our commitment to engaging youth and promoting collaboration between businesses, creatives and innovators is part of our legacy, and it drives us in our hosting of COP28.

“Expo City is proud to be doing its part to propel climate action, through learning opportunities for the next generation of climate leaders, and activities and experiences that are inclusive, accessible and engaging for all walks of life – because while climate change necessitates every individual rise to the occasion, our potential for impact is maximised when we embark on this journey together.”

Voice for Action hub

The global event is expected to have the participation of more than 70,000 delegates. The organisers had promised to have an inclusive, transparent and respectful setting for all participants to engage in the COP process.

“In line with UN Framework Convention on Climate Change guidelines and adherence to international human rights norms and principles, there will be space available for climate activists to assemble peacefully and make their voices heard. We are committed to upholding the rights of all participants and to ensuring that everyone’s perspectives are heard and their contributions to the climate challenge are recognised,” it was announced earlier.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that a hub will be dedicated to the climate activists’ peaceful assembly.

“We have a hub called ‘Voice for Action’ and that is dedicated to this,” said Al Mheiri. She said the hub is located next to the Mobility Pavilion’s entrance within the Green Zone.

The public can access the Green Zone through the Opportunity, Sustainability and Mobility arrival plazas while the media and sponsors can also use the Al Fursan arrival plaza, said Al Mheiri.

Apart from the main exhibition which was open during the Expo 2020, Terra will host a special photography exhibition on marine conservation called “Fragile Beauty” by Prince Hussain Aga Khan, said Faraidooni.

Six daily programmes, which will include workshops on climate-related topics such as upcycling, food security and climate action, will be open to members of the public, she said.

“We're also very proud to be launching during the COP, a back-of-house tour of this amazing structure that lives and breathes sustainability… By registration, participants can learn about how this building consumes and generates energy and also learn about the water technologies that are used.”

A musical called “Alya in Terraland” will also be launched for the public, especially families, to learn more about climate change, through entertainment. It will take place at the Terra Auditorium on December 7, 11 and 12.

Coalition to save bees

Expo City Dubai will also launch a coalition that targets to save bees across the world. “We are very pleased to launch on December 4, a coalition that targets the saving of bees called the Trillion Bee Coalition. We're looking to invite members of the community, whether they're individuals or even business communities, to be part of this coalition that is supported by a scientific board that will look into ways of saving bees around the world,” said Faraidooni.

Student programmes

Bespoke workshops and programmes targeting school children aged from eight to 17 will be offered. Schools should register students’ visits through the website of Expo City Dubai.

“We're also hosting a next-generation World Majlis on site. We've already commenced the filtering process of the students… We'll be having their final session here during COP,” said Faraidooni.

Big names at ECD

Nadia Verjee, executive director, Expo Dubai Group, said it was decided to host an Expo City Dubai (ECD) Pavilion because not everybody who is going to come to COP28 knows the story of Expo City Dubai.

Talking about the events at the pavilion, she said, it will host an exhibition on the ground floor and multiple programmes on the first floor.

World-renowned American economist and author Jeffrey Sachs and Chadian environmental activist and geographer Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim are among the big names slated to attend the public activities.

On December 6, a large representation of global mayors from different countries, including Estonia, including Sierra Leone will convene here, said Verjee.

Pledge for planet, people

Visitors will be able to take part in a “Pledge for Planet and People” that aims to empower individuals to take voluntary actions for people and the planet. The pledge allows individuals to choose their actions independently, without external management. Participants take responsibility for their chosen actions, confirming suitable carbon offsets. Verjee said it was the first time that a pledge of this nature was made available in Arabic.

Yousuf Caires, executive director, Expo Live Innovation Programme, said the innovation programme is bringing 19 startups from all over the world and 20 university groups to participate in programmes focused on climate solutions.

Expo City will resume its regular operations with the return of Winter City from December 15 2023 to January 7, 2024, celebrating the magic of the festive season for the second consecutive year.