Expo 2020 Dubai shines spotlight on innovative best practices solving some of the world’s biggest challenges
An environmentally-friendly water treatment plant that has created a wetland in Oman’s desert, a project from the UK building battery-powered underwater fishing lights to reduce unwanted catch, and a UAE-based educational platform that harnesses artificial intelligence to personalise learning experiences for students are among the second stream of projects in Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme.
The 20 hand-picked initiatives, known as ‘Untold Stories’, have joined the Programme’s inaugural cohort of 25, whose simple, effective and locally-based solutions address some of the world’s biggest challenges, including those laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals – 17 global goals designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
The Global Best Practice Programme highlights the importance of bringing together creative minds to develop innovative solutions and is an integral part of Expo 2020’s commitment to encouraging positive change through cooperation and knowledge sharing.
Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau and Chair of the UAE National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, said: “These 20 selected projects are already having a real, positive impact on people’s lives, at a time when millions face significant challenges in their lives. With its own area to showcase at Expo 2020, our expanded Global Best Practice Programme is a testament to our continued commitment to projects that the world needs now and reflects the UAE’s wider efforts to drive positive change across a range of key issues globally.
“Projects under the programme will benefit from a unique platform that will bring together change-makers from around the world, facilitating knowledge transfer, global collaboration and inspiring concrete action towards the SDGs, in line with our theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.
Launched in 2018 under the theme ‘Small Steps, Big Leaps: Simple Solutions for Sustainable Impact’, the Programme honours a 2010 Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) mandate for all World Expo hosts to create a platform that spotlights tangible solutions that can be replicated, adapted and scaled for greater global impact – highlighting World Expos as powerful platforms for inspiring change and driving human progress.
Dimitri Kerkentzes, Secretary General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), said: “At their core, Expos are educational events that share knowledge and disseminate the latest and most useful innovations for the benefit of all. Uniting the practical perspective of Expos with their core themes, best practices educate and inspire visitors by showcasing tried and tested solutions that can be adopted globally.
“We are delighted to witness the growth of the Best Practice Area at Expo 2020 Dubai and look forward to seeing its continued development as we drive forward in solidarity towards a brighter future.”
The new projects augment the 25 selected last year under the programme’s first stream, a call for proposals that received 1,175 submissions from 141 countries, highlighting the global breadth of impactful, proven initiatives coming from – and having an impact in – all areas of the world. Expo 2020 will offer a unique platform to showcase these solutions, sparking ideas, enhancing collaboration and inspiring further positive change.
They include the Nimr Water Treatment Plant in the south of Oman, one of the largest projects of its kind in the world. Significantly reducing the environmental footprint of the Nimr oilfields south of Muscat, the plant – a constructed wetland – has recovered more than two million barrels of crude oil from produced water and transformed arid desert into a resilient eco-system.
UAE-based Alef Education is providing personalised learning experiences for students so they learn at their own pace, anytime and anywhere. Its artificial intelligence-based platform affords individualised instruction and gives users a choice on how they prefer to learn. To date, the platform has benefitted more than 60,000 students in 200-plus schools across the UAE, as well as three schools in the USA.
Aishah Al Yammahi, Board Advisor, Alef Education, said: “Expo 2020 Dubai represents a melting pot of the latest cutting-edge technologies and innovations from around the world. Alef Education is extremely proud to participate in the World Expo through the Global Best Practice Programme. We are showcasing our innovative, AI-driven educational system, which will help shape the future of education across the UAE and the world.”
UK-based SafetyNet Technologies has also designed underwater lights, known as Pisces, that attract certain fish and repel others. The battery-powered devices, easily affixed to nets, help reduce bycatch and increase sustainability within the global fishing industry. They are currently being deployed across the world.
In contrast to the first stream, a call for proposals where projects applied to the programme and were selected by a jury, projects under the second stream were hand-picked by the Global Best Practice Programme team who actively sought out innovative and successful solutions in the programme’s five key focus areas: inclusive and sustainable service delivery; livelihoods and enterprise development; resilient habitats; social development; and water, food and energy security.
The Global Best Practice Programme and Expo 2020’s specialist programming, which will include themed weeks and international day events to highlight global issues like climate change, health and wellness, inequality and environmental degradation, are among a range of Expo-backed initiatives aimed at positively impacting areas related to the Global Goals.
They will play a crucial role in the next World Expo, which runs from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, helping to create a platform that will facilitate knowledge transfer and global collaboration, and inspire concrete actions for a better future for all.