How small steps can bring about positive change on a global scale

Expo 2020 Dubai’s Opportunity Pavilion will convey the impact of personal choices and actions

An artist's impression of the Opportunity Pavilion. Courtesy Expo 2020 Dubai
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Poverty, hunger, disease and environmental impact often feel removed or too overwhelming for us as individuals to have any real impact. But collectively, each of our choices and actions can be a force for positive change in even the most complex global challenges.

The UAE is inviting the world to come together and prove this as part of Expo 2020 Dubai.

A world expo is a rare chance for individuals, nations, businesses, multilateral organisations and educational institutions from all over the world to come together and form meaningful partnerships that drive global change.

Expo 2020’s newly unveiled Opportunity Pavilion is designed to act as a platform to harness this power of collaboration in our joint effort to support human development.

The pavilion is framed around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 global objectives that aim to ensure a basic quality of life for everyone.

This week I will attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York to discuss how the international community is working to achieve those SDGs as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Through Expo 2020, the UAE can make a significant contribution to this collective effort and the Opportunity Pavilion has a crucial role to play.

By providing people with access to basic needs such as clean water, nutritious food and equal access to healthcare, education and jobs, we create environments that enable them to thrive and reach their full potential. Every individual has a role to play if we are to maximise the scale of our impact.


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The Opportunity Pavilion will put each visitor at the heart of our collective mission to support human development through an engaging and interactive journey that uses decision-making to show the impact of our choices and actions.

It will highlight how our individual, small actions can help solve problems faced by communities in every corner of the planet.

The pavilion will also offer the ideal home for Expo 2020’s global best practice programme called Small Steps, Big Leaps, which showcases successful solutions that can have an impact on the world’s biggest challenges.

These solutions can be developed and implemented by anyone, from countries, companies and international organisations to communities or even creative individuals. This is what the pavilion is all about.

By empowering people to recognise their personal role – and therefore our collective role – in achieving common goals, our nation has the chance to meet its 2020 objectives within the context of the world’s 2030 agenda. This is a global agenda. The SDGs are the result of a grassroots movement; they were conceived by individuals like you and me. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring we achieve them.

Through Expo 2020, the UAE will bring all kinds of partners to the table to enhance collaboration and unlock new opportunities that enable people to achieve their immediate goals while pursuing their long-term aspirations.

Reshaping our collective future will not be easy but we have the numbers to make a real difference. The global population is expected to surpass eight billion before 2030. Imagine what the overall impact would be if each one of us made a small, conscious decision to change something for the better?

Fortunately, the 193 countries represented in UNGA have committed to achieving SDGs and by focusing our attention on them and engaging all of Expo 2020’s stakeholders – including millions of visitors – in their achievement, the UAE has an opportunity to accelerate our collective journey towards global change. This is our chance to make meaningful contributions to end poverty, provide quality education, drive economic growth, improve infrastructure and reduce inequality.

We have committed to delivering the most inclusive world expo in history because, regardless of nationality, age, ability or background, we all have the power to make the world a better place. Those who visit Expo 2020 and its Opportunity Pavilion will not only witness but experience this firsthand.

By encouraging and empowering millions of people to consider the impact of their personal choices and actions, our nation can affect positive change on a global scale. Opportunity is a win-win game. If we succeed in making small but meaningful improvements to our own lives, the entire world stands to benefit.

Reem Al Hashimy is the UAE's Minister of State for International Cooperation and director general of Expo 2020 Dubai