Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

Boosting farm produce and clean drinking water among projects for Expo Live

An ambitious programme announced during the bid stage, Expo Live marks the first time a country hosting the World Fair has outlined specific goals of finding, funding and promoting creative solutions to some of the globe’s most important issues.
Yousuf Caires, vice president of Expo Live, said ideas for projects have also been submitted from the UAE. Ravindranath K / The National
Yousuf Caires, vice president of Expo Live, said ideas for projects have also been submitted from the UAE. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // Ideas on ways to boost farm produce and generate clean drinking water are among the life-changing projects submitted by students, entrepreneurs and non-profit organisations from across the world as part of Expo 2020.

An ambitious programme announced during the bid stage, Expo Live marks the first time a country hosting the world fair has outlined goals to find, fund and promote solutions to some of the globe’s most important issues.

“We have received a good mix and are excited to track young entrepreneurs who are trying to tackle a meaningful problem,” said Yousuf Caires, vice president of Expo Live, adding that applications were also received from the UAE.

“Some issues relate to clean drinking water, sanitation, renewable energy and problems like how to support farmers improve yield in a specific part of the world.”

The UAE committed its support for local businesses and innovators four years ago when it campaigned to stage the first world fair in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.

A pilot was announced last year with a formal roll-out last week of the US$100 million (Dh367m) programme.

This is the first of two annual cycles to identify projects. The pilot attracted 575 applications from 71 countries, of which 168 are now under review.

“We’re looking for people who have a prototype, are out in the market pursuing and trying to make it successful,” Mr Caires said. “What we are trying to avoid is people who have great ideas but it’s just an idea.

“We want to be listening to those folks who have made that initial investment in getting their project ready for implementation, and it needs an extra push from Expo 2020 to reach its potential.”

Leaving an impact is the focus of the six-month expo starting in October 2020.

“It’s important in the whole expo site to be able to walk around in the days that one spends there to really understand what the globe is doing and to have them host it here in the UAE really talks to our ability to connect the world,” said Majid Al Qassimi, director of animal health and development, UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

“The expo message is linking communities and making a difference. So when you have people visiting from all over the globe, it’s critical for them to take one message away about how sustainability can help them move forward.”

The expo has also drawn interest from teenagers.

“It shows how we should all be open minded, develop ourselves, improve technology, build new things for our country and learn from other countries,” said Fatima Al Hammadi, a student who visited the expo stall at the recent Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Forging links is key. The Expo Live projects could match a European group working on advanced technology water purification with a group from the developing world working on an indigenous method, Mr Caires said.

“It’s bridging the old and the new and understanding that there is place for both. Co-creation, interaction between individual ideas is what we think the future will be about. That to me is quite exciting. It’s also people’s stories, their ambition and determination to fix a problem and eliminate a challenge from the future.”

For more information on grants, challenges and events on the expo themes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability, check the website: expo2020dubai.ae/expolive.

rtalwar@thenational.ae

Updated: January 22, 2017 04:00 AM

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