Expo 2020 highlights 20 international projects that can change the world

Call for proposals received 1,175 submissions from 141 countries

A water treatment plant with wetlands in Oman, nets that promote sustainable fishing and an online education programme have been identified by Expo 2020 Dubai as local solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.

The Expo’s Global Best Practice Programme has identified 20 projects as part of its Untold Stories project.

The 20 will come together under one umbrella at next year's event to trigger new ideas and inspire change.

"These 20 selected projects are already having a real, positive impact on people’s lives, at a time when millions face significant challenges," said Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and director general of Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau.

These 20 selected projects are already having a real, positive impact on people's lives, at a time when millions face significant challenges

"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."

The projects have changed the lives of students, teachers, nurses, villagers and fishermen, and could be replicated anywhere in the world.

They include the Nimr water treatment plant in Oman, one of the world’s largest environment-friendly programmes.

Then there is the UAE’s Alef Education, which uses artificial intelligence to help pupils learn at their own pace, and a British battery-powered technology that uses underwater lights to protect fish species.

The programme is part of the Expo's commitment to promote critical projects from which millions around the world can learn more about co-operation and sharing of knowledge.

It also reflects the UAE’s effort to drive positive change globally.

Aishah Al Yammahi, a board adviser with Alef Education, said the technology company was proud to take part in the Expo.

"Expo 2020 Dubai represents a melting pot of the latest cutting-edge technologies and innovations from around the world," Ms Al Yammahi said.

The digital platform has helped more than 60,000 pupils in 200 schools in the UAE and three schools in the US by using individual instruction to improve learning.

Also among the 20 projects, SafetyNet Technologies in Britain has designed underwater lights known as Pisces to aid more selective fishing.

When attached to nets, the lights help to reduce accidental catches and protect fish stock by targeting specific species.

This is based on research that specific types of light can directly affect the catch.

Nets are lit with one of six colours a fisherman can select. The lights are already used by fisheries in Europe.

In south Oman, a wetland has been created around the Nimr water treatment plant, where desert temperatures can soar to 50°C.

Plants were locally sourced and reproduced in a nursery on site with the treated water for irrigation.

The UAE’s Alef Education has been selected by Expo 2020 Dubai among 20 projects that can create far reaching change. The project uses artificial intelligence to promote  individualised learning for students anywhere in the world. The digital platform has helped more than 60,000 students in 200 schools in the Emirates and three schools in the US. Courtesy: Expo 2020 Dubai

The wetland is also attracting more than 100 native and migratory birds to the site.

In another project, waste is being converted into compost. The Soil programme in Haiti provides 6,500 people with toilets as part of a scheme to provide affordable household sanitation services.

More than 510 tonnes of waste has been converted into agricultural grade compost and there are plans to launch bigger projects to serve thousands of households.

This is the second phase of the Expo initiative.

Last year, 25 locally based programmes were picked by the Dubai organisers to address the UN’s sustainable development goals for a better future.

Launched in 2018, the initiative follows a mandate of the Bureau International des Expositions, the expo organisers, to promote solutions that can be expanded for greater global impact.

"At their core, Expos are educational events that share knowledge and disseminate the latest and most useful innovations for the benefit of all,” said Dimitri Kerkentzes, secretary general of the bureau.

“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.”

A call for proposals had received 1,175 submissions from 141 countries.

The Expo hopes to spark new ideas, improve collaboration and inspire further change by bringing the initiatives under one umbrella.

The programme will be an integral part of the World Expo, which will run from October 1, 2021 to March 2022.

There will be themed weeks, and international day events to highlight climate change, health, inequality and environmental degradation.