Expo 2020 Dubai’s Programme for People and Planet

31 August 2021
Through 10 themed weeks, Dubai will use the six-month expo to promote discussion on global challenges and opportunities

This expo package also includes: Still in the grip of Covid-19 and the climate crisis, why should the world pay attention to Expo 2020 Dubai?

Kicking off on 3 October, Expo 2020 Dubai’s Programme for People and Planet will run for six months. It will be anchored by 10 themed weeks and 18 international days that will bring together governments, businesses and young people to explore global challenges and find solutions.

The schedule will include about 220 activities, from forums and public conventions to lectures and workshops. The World Majlis series will play a key role, with 53 different sessions underpinned by the expo’s  sub-themes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability. 

A special week will also be dedicated to the UAE Golden Jubilee celebrations on 5-11 December.

"Climate change and biodiversity loss are two of the most pressing challenges of our time. According to the 2021 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global surface temperature has increased faster since 1970 than in any other 50-year period in the past 2,000 years.

"Moreover, cities are expected to cover three times as much land in 2030 as they did in 2000, with many of the expansions occurring in key biodiversity hotspots, according to the Global Risk Report 2020 by the World Economic Forum. 

"The international community has already recognised the problems and has come together to address the issue under the aegis of the UN.

"Malaysia has engaged in these efforts since becoming a member of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in the 1990s and will continue to play its role in the battle to secure the common future of a prosperous and liveable planet.”

Shamsul Bahar Mohd Nor
CEO of the Malaysian Green Technology & Climate Change Centre


"Humanity’s interest in space is universal and enduring. Humans are driven to explore the unknown, discover new worlds, push the boundaries of our scientific and technical limits, and then push further. The intangible desire to explore and challenge the boundaries of what we know and where we have been has provided benefits to our society for centuries.

"The efforts of Nasa, particularly with the commercial crew programme, have enabled more activity in low-Earth orbit. We have been working with private companies to transfer our knowledge of human space flight. 

"Our vision of the future commercial space industry is a strong market in low-Earth orbit, with private companies providing commercial transportation to space, cargo deliveries and commercial space stations. In that future, Nasa can be just one of many customers of those commercial providers.  

"A robust and competitive low-Earth orbit economy is vital to continued progress in space. We are looking to partner with countries that share a similar vision of the future of space exploration.”

Matthew K Asada 
Deputy commissioner general for the US pavilion


"Our cities and rural areas have become important centres of human innovation. However, every year they account for about 75 per cent of the world’s natural resource use.

"We need to understand that with proper planning and design, development can withstand and mitigate the challenges of climate change and help us create people-centric places and positive impacts on our economy and environment.

"The UAE is entering an exciting phase of urban and rural development. The federal and emirate governments have committed to several international treaties to play their part in solving global challenges such as climate change.

"The country has also reimagined itself as an international player in the knowledge and innovation space, making it an attractive place for creative talent who want to live in dynamic environments. 

"These changes have been visible during the pandemic as the government took on a number of initiatives around food and water security, logistics and distribution, public parks, healthcare and public transport to enhance the quality of life for the country’s residents.

"I expect this trend to continue, with more initiatives focused on affordable housing, the protection of environmental areas and of course renewable energy, to confirm the UAE’s commitment to sustainable and resilient living.”

Manosh De
Regional solutions and technologies lead – cities and places at Jacobs


"As one of the world’s most diverse societies, Australia hosts a vast variety of cultures and ethnicities, and inclusivity is at the heart of our culture.

"We are pleased to note that diversity, inclusivity and multiculturalism are high on the agenda at Expo 2020 Dubai. From the open and welcoming design of our pavilion to the events and programming, tolerance and inclusivity are central to the Australian pavilion’s theme of ‘Blue Sky Dreaming’, representing the spirit of ambition and equal opportunity for all. 

"At Expo 2020, Australia will bring together industry, educators and governments to look at strategies for enhancing inclusivity, including improving women’s participation in key sectors. The pavilion will co-host events focused on women’s leadership in architecture and urban planning along with the Expo Women’s pavilion and the UN Habitat. We have a strong involvement in the Global Indigenous Symposium and will host an event focusing on Indigenous women in business.

"Our programme also includes events at the Expo sports and wellness centre that will provide opportunities for all.”

Justin McGowan 
Commissioner general of the Australia pavilion


"The UAE has been at the forefront of adopting new teaching and learning methods. Even before the pandemic changed the way education is delivered, the government has been actively promoting technology in schools to foster future employment and develop 21st-century skills among today’s youth. The government has recognised early on that the use of educational technology can have a positive impact on student engagement and progress.

"The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 says that greater adoption of technology will mean that in-demand skills across jobs will change over the next five years, and skills gaps will continue to be high. 

"In recognition of this, and to ensure sustainable socio-economic development, the UAE has set out its Advanced Skills Strategy, a national framework aimed at consolidating the concept of life-long learning for citizens and residents of the UAE. Targeting three categories – students in schools and universities, higher education graduates and experienced employees – the framework seeks to teach skills required to harness advanced technological trends in automation using artificial intelligence, robotics and big data analytics. 

"For all these reasons and more, knowledge and learning will take centre stage at Expo 2020, providing an opportunity to delve into how education, skills and work must keep evolving in the face of new challenges and new opportunities.”

Gillian Murray
Deputy principal (enterprise and business) at Heriot-Watt University


"In the coming decade, the global economy is set to transform, starting from cross-border e-governance solutions that strive for safety in the digital economic ecosystem by promoting state-provided, interoperable digital identification models.

"Digital tools will offer opportunities for growth in a geographically neutral way, and in the coming years we will see a truly global goods and services market with data systems that suit distanced working habits.

"Countries will need to create digital systems and data clouds in a way that is bureaucracy free, transparent and open to cooperation.

"Estonia is working with the International Telecommunications Union and others to accelerate digital transformation. The plan is to create a series of digital building blocks to serve as an architectural blueprint for any country planning to build a digital platform or provide e-services. All components of GovStack would be considered public goods and free of charge.

"We hope to showcase components of GovStack at Expo 2020.”

Daniel Schaer
Commissioner general of the Estonia pavilion


"We need to not just talk about but to act on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is already a lot of dialogue on the SDGs, but not nearly enough action. If we are to meet the challenges we face, we need to act now. Not tomorrow. 

"We also need to involve every single person on this planet, not just leaders and CEOs. Everyone needs to take tangible action in their everyday life and understand that this is not a challenge that someone else will fix for us – this is something we all need to do together, as a united force. 

"This is our mission at Hack for Earth Foundation and we call it citizen-driven innovation.

"The next 10 years are crucial for our planet, and for our very existence. Expo 2020 is a unique opportunity for the countries of the world to come together in the same space to not just talk, but to act. 

"Our aim is that the global online ‘hackathon’ Hack for Earth at Expo 2020 will be one of the platforms where people from all over the world put their minds together to create real solutions to implement the SDGs.”

Ann Molin
Founder and secretary general of the Hack for Earth Foundation


"The health crisis has made us realise that we have to place greater emphasis on the value of solidarity and on international cooperation. As a result, Expo 2020 Dubai has turned into an essential platform to address global challenges in a spirit of solidarity and cooperation. 

"As a small but innovative country, Switzerland seeks global cooperation in science, education and business. Expo 2020 is an opportunity to inspire solutions and enable actions towards the world’s most pressing issues.

"The Swiss pavilion will be a place of dialogue, where representatives of government, business, science and civil society come together. It is dedicated to demonstrating how health and wellness are cornerstones of sustainable development.

"This is why we are partnering with the Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), a coalition of 12 university faculties. Their research, which sets public health in relation to all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, will be shared through interactive exhibits, panels and workshops. The SSPH+ will present findings on topics such as mental health during lockdowns. Discussing this holistic science will allow us to foster international collaboration to overcome illnesses such as depression.

"We are also collaborating with local institutions such as the UAE University to create a platform for exchanges during the expo.”

Manuel Salchli
Commissioner general of the Swiss pavilion and chairman of Expo 2020’s steering committee


"Climate change, combined with the way much of our food is being produced, will be disastrous for our food security within the coming decades. And we also need to realise that centralised, large-scale monoculture, transporting food around the world and all the food waste does have a huge impact on climate change.

"Already, too many people lack access to enough safe and nutritious food. In developed countries, people live in ‘food deserts’, where it is impossible to buy fresh produce. It is very frustrating to realise that today a pizza is cheaper than broccoli.

"We need to stop investing in a broken system that is a danger to our planet and our health.

"The technology is available, even in harsh climates. We need to share knowledge about growing food, give entrepreneurs in food enough space to develop their different business models in and around mega cities, and create awareness of the real value of healthy food. 

"Over time, policymakers will rethink the way that cities are designed and embrace the idea that a large proportion of the food necessary for a city can be produced locally and sustainably. Food-producing cities are livable cities. This concept creates new connections on a social, ecological and economic level, providing more green space, saving water, balancing energy sources, helping to reduce carbon emissions and thus contributing to a better climate. 

"I believe that cities and their citizens will be able to drive the sustainable change and disruptive innovations the world so badly needs. Let’s start with food.”

Meiny Prins
CEO of Priva and the Expo 2020 champion for the Netherlands


"Every drop of water counts – it is what made life on earth. The first human civilisations arose around water sources. The sea and rivers still divide and unite nations today. Caring for water together, and ensuring that there is enough for all, are the most important tasks for the future stability and prosperity of humanity.

"As a global platform, Expo 2020 provides nations with an opportunity to present solutions such as the Czech pavilion’s solar-air-water-earth-resources (SAWER) technology that can create an oasis in the desert or on a desert island. Five Czech innovations form a system that can generate energy from the sun completely independently, extract water from dry air and turn it into drinking water, or supply nutrients to plants in the sand. 

"A self-sufficient and sustainable source of water produced from the air, even in desert conditions, is the solution to the growing issue of water supply for humans, animals and plants.”

Jiri Frantisek Potuznik
Ambassador and commissioner general of the Czech Republic pavilion



 Still in the grip of Covid-19 and the climate crisis, why should the world pay attention to Expo 2020 Dubai?


A MEED Subscription...

Subscribe or upgrade your current MEED.com package to support your strategic planning with the MENA region’s best source of business information. Proceed to our online shop below to find out more about the features in each package.