Expo 2020: Dubai is committed to promoting a sustainable future.

As Albert Einstein famously said, “We cannot solve problems using the same thinking we used when we created them.” That is perhaps the ingenious approach necessary to help build a cleaner future.

In an effort to raise awareness of the global sustainability cause and to provide an engaging platform for showcasing solutions, encouraging interest, and inspiring collaboration, Expo 2020 Dubai has made sustainability one of its subthemes. As a result, it established Terra, the Sustainability Pavilion, as the district’s centerpiece.

UK-based Grimshaw Architects created Terra to highlight the impact that human choices have on the environment. The visitor experience has been designed to inspire visitors to pause and reflect on how they can actively make positive changes in their behavior to help build a safe and healthy world.

During the prelude to this year’s event, more than 100,000 people took advantage of a special preview of the sustainability pavilion from January 22 until April 10. In the first week of the preview, Terra’s call for change was followed by 96 percent of respondents inspired to change their behavior, from saving water to using less plastic.

In addition to hosting Terra, the sustainability district also hosts several country pavilions that showcase the latest advancements in the sector. Through a glimpse of Brazil’s biodiversity, the Netherlands’ integrated climate system, Singapore’s rainforest, and Germany’s cutting-edge technology, the district provides a glimpse of a technology-driven future that advocates for a cohesive society.

Critical Endeavors

“Would you rather save the Earth or touchdown on Mars?” – one of the numerous thought-provoking questions posed to visitors at the Sustainability pavilion poses the question as to the way mankind sees its future while highlighting the urgent urgency of environmental concerns that threaten the lives of future generations.


It is no secret that the planet we live on is in peril. According to a study published in The Lancet approximately 356,000 deaths occurred as a result of heat in 2019 and this number is expected to continue to rise. 


Furthermore, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report predicts that climate change will increase in all regions in the coming decades. If global warming increases by 1.5°C, heat waves will be more frequent, warm seasons will be longer and cold seasons will be shorter. If global warming increases by 2°C, the report warns that heat extremes will reach critical agriculture and human health thresholds. In response to the IPCC Working Group 1 report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres described it as a “code red for humanity.”

While a report by strategy consulting firm Dalberg, commissioned by WWF, examines the global plastics system and its detrimental effects, the report indicates that the cost of plastic produced in 2019 will be at least $3.7 trillion (+/-$1 trillion) over its estimated lifetime. If no immediate action is taken, the societal lifetime cost of plastic produced in 2040 is estimated to be $7.1 trillion (plus or minus $2.2 trillion). That figure represents approximately 85 percent of global health expenditures in 2018 and is greater than the combined gross domestic product of Germany, Canada, and Australia in 2019.

Climate change is a global issue that impacts us all. We are running out of time when it comes to limiting global warming. Meanwhile, Bahrain experienced its warmest August in 119 years.


Numerous efforts are being made locally and regionally to stem the erosion of natural resources, reduce carbon emissions, and stem environmental degradation.


As of March, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced Saudi and Middle East green initiatives with local targets, including the planting of 10 billion trees throughout the kingdom, a reduction of carbon emissions by more than 4 percent of global emissions, increasing protected areas to more than 30 percent of the total land area and achieving 50 percent renewable energy in the country’s energy mix by 2030. Earlier this year, it has also been announced that Oman’s OQ is joining an international consortium to significantly develop one of the biggest green fuel projects in the world to boost the country’s renewable energy capacity.


Similarly, the UAE has set ambitious agendas to help build a sustainable future. The UAE has committed to reducing carbon emissions by a quarter by 2030. As part of its 2050 strategy, the country plans to produce 44 percent of its energy from renewable resources, 38 percent from natural gas, 12 percent from clean coal, and 6 percent from nuclear power. Meanwhile, Unit 2 of the Barakah nuclear energy plant was connected to the UAE’s transmission grid last month, only a few months after the first unit began commercial operations.

Private firms are equally cognizant of the need to foster change and usher in a clean tomorrow. Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi-based airline, has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and halving its 2019 emissions by 2035. Cisco also recently committed to achieving carbon neutrality across all its operations by 2040.


A solar-powered parking facility in Abu Dhabi was completed earlier this year, which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5,300 tonnes annually. As part of its commitment to sustainability, Amazon also launched a solar rooftop at its largest fulfillment center in the United Arab Emirates as part of its onsite renewable energy initiative.


As people envision a technology-driven viable future, environmental consciousness is also gaining popularity among consumers. In a report released by Mastercard, Smart Dubai, and Expo 2020 Dubai, 53 percent of UAE respondents find living in a sustainable city the most exciting innovation in future smart cities, with sustainable development emerging as a critical aspiration for smart cities.


In September, the Arbor school claimed to have become the first school in the UAE to offer a sustainable uniform. We are fully aware that if we continue to consume at the same rate that many world regions are, we will run out of resources on this planet. It is not an equal amount of consumption, some countries consume more, and some consume less, so we should ensure that all countries consume proportionally, not some more and some less,” notes The Arbor School’s principal, Brett Girven.

Ringing in change

Expo 2020 Dubai is turning words into action by embedding sustainability throughout its operations. A total of 5.5 megawatts of renewable energy systems have been installed across all permanent building projects on the property. Similarly, Terra’s 130-meter-wide canopy of solar panels and 18 energy trees generate 4GWh of alternative energy annually, equivalent to enough electricity to charge more than 900,000 mobile phones.

Terra-fic attempt

During Expo 2020 Dubai, the world will gather to witness this world event, and the emirate and country will be the focus. For this reason, Expo 2020 Dubai is on a path to establishing its legacy of innovation, change, and cohesion by recycling, fostering natural solutions, and provoking visitors to think introspectively as they help build a sustainable, inclusive future.