Expo 2020: All you need to know about Sao Paulo’s bid

Expo 2020 Sao Paulo logo

The members of the BIE will vote for the host of Expo 2020 next week. Here are the key facts you should know about Sao Paulo's bid.


Local authorities and experts share their views on the project

The theme: Power of Diversity, Harmony for growth
With over 70 nationalities living together, Sao Paulo's economic and cultural power stems from diversity. This experience is what generated the idea for the Expo theme. The city's bid for Expo 2020 aims at fostering the notion that diversity is an ally to development. Diversity of thought, of cultures, of skills enables innovation, creative economy and new possibilities for human progress. However, as diversity can be a source of conflict and discrimination for some, the Expo bid also intends to tackle this issue by analyzing the role of public policies, the notion of prosperity and the importance of cross-cultural dialogue.

More about the theme: Power of diversity, power of ideas

The site : Nature at the heart of the project
The 500 ha site chosen for the Expo is located in the region of Pirituba, in the north-east of Sao Paulo. It is an area covered by rainforest, lakes and rivers. "It was important to take into account the geography and the typography of the area, the local culture, the social dimension of the Expo, as well as the objective to welcome 30 million visitors" shared Ralf Amann, architect and Director of GMP Brazil, during the city's symposium in september.
 All open areas are designed as public parks and visitors can walk from pavilions straight into nature. Sustainability is an important part of the project and many synergies would be set up to limit the risk of waste.

A view from the site project

The site project

An Expo to turn Pirituba into a new economic center of Sao Paulo
The wide and highly populated region of Pirituba is badly connected to the center of Sao Paulo and offers very few job opportunities. The Expo would not only boost ongoing projects, like the creation of a new metro line connecting Pirituba to the city center or the building of Sao Paulo's biggest congress center, it would include them in a global development plan : Sao Paulo hopes to create in Pirituba a new hub for business, tourism and education with research and learning centers, convention centers, the biggest park in the city, as well as new housing areas, hotels and shops that would bring new sources of income and employment to the local population.

The Expo site and the region of Pirituba

The Expo site and Pirituba

The Expo: the expression of Brazil's Soft Power
By bringing countries together in a live discussion and innovation platform, an Expo would highlight Brazil's strong international cooperation strategy. Over the years, the country has built important cooperation programs namely with its neighbors and African countries. According to Maria Celina de Azevedo Rodrigues, Diplomatic Coordinator for Expo Sao Paulo 2020, it is time to "change the balance of the world" and give a "new frontier" to World Expos that have never been hosted in Latin America.

The renewable energy tower, Expo 2020 Sao Paulo

The project for the Renewable Energy Tower

More information: http://www.saopauloexpo2020.com.br/?lang=en 

Expo 2020 Dubai and the development strategy of the UAE

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Dubai's bid is not only part of the Emirate's strategy to continue reinforcing its position as a world hub, it is also the occasion to show the world that Dubai and the UAE are shifting from "hard" to "soft" projects. As HE Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi - UAE Minister of development and International Cooperation- said during the Dubai 2020 symposium "the UAE is going from oil infrastructures to education and innovation projects and Dubai is shifting from a crossroads city to a multinational entity".

Mobility, sustainability and opportunity, the three subthemes the Dubai 2020 bid has chosen to articulate the discussion on partnerships, are the expression of Dubai's long-term strategy. Each subtheme is a pillar of the future development of Dubai and projects in all three fields are in motion.

It is easy to link mobility to Dubai. 57 million passengers have gone through Dubai International airport in 2012. The port of Jebel Ali is the first port in the Middle East and the largest container port between Rotterdam and Singapour. And more projects are underway. Dubai is currently building the International Al Makhtoum Airport near the port. Once completed, it will be able to handle 160 million passengers. Dubai's solid connection to the rest of the world allows Expo organizers to predict that 70% of expo visitors would be foreigners.

"Sustainability is part of the strategic vision for the future of Dubai" announced HE Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture, during the symposium. With its 365 days of sun, Dubai sees great potential in the development of solar energy that could account for 50% of the Expo site's energy needs. The project that best illustrates Dubai's ambition in green energies is Masdar city, developed by the Masdar program launched in 2006 that develops green projects all over the world. Masdar city is the world's first sustainable site. Located 17 km away from Abu Dhabi it should ultimately welcome 40 000 inhabitants.

The third sub-theme, "Opportunity", is key to embrace the world of tomorrow. For Expo organizers, it means identifying new economic models that come from innovation. Dubai has allowed foreign investors in fields such as finance, services, transportation but also digital technologies and media to settle in Dubai thus creating innovation clusters.

Al Wasl, the site project's mail plaza

Al Wasl and the shading structure

The design of the Expo site is based on these three subthemes. Located near Al Makhtoum airport and halfway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the site would be easily accessible from many transportation points in the UAE. The site itself would be divided in three areas dedicated to each sub theme. These thematic zones would lead up to Al Wasl,the main plaza. Countries would be able to set up their pavilion in the area that corresponds best to their development strategy. The project for the main structures of the site is inspired by souks: a shading structure protects visitors from the heat and direct sunlight, mixing innovation and oriental tradition. Sustainability is at the heart of the project, in terms of energy, but also in terms of infrastructure re-use. The project is based on modular design: an important part of the Expo will be dismantled and rebuilt to create appropriate infrastructures for the development of the region: a convention center that will become the Dubai Trade Center (project already underway), an Expo museum, a university but also apartment buildings and hotels.

Connecting minds, connecting solutions

The theme "Connecting minds, Creating the future" fosters both a philosophy of mutual understanding and cooperation and a hands-on approach to finding new solutions to the three subthemes of Dubai's Expo bid: mobility, sustainability and opportunity. The symposium of the 22nd and 23rd of October allowed the Expo organizers and experts to present all aspects of their theme.

The symposium of Dubai

A philosophy

In the last decades, Expos have become innovation platforms where countries can share their latest ideas on a world issue, may it be nutrition in Milan 2015, energy in Astana 2017 or urbanism in Shanghai 2010. Dubai's bid offers a new approach by not focusing on a unique subject, but rather on a vision, a way of thinking, that can fuel projects and stimulate research. "Dubai's project broadens the Expo paradigm" pointed out Pr. Jian Jay Wang during the symposium.

"Connecting minds, Creating the future" is based on the importance of partnership and of shared experiences in our interdependent and interconnected world. According to HE Reem Al Hashimi, "the outcome of a partnership is greater than the sum of its parts: partnerships build the world of tomorrow, they are sources of solution and progress."

Interconnected world, interconnected challenges

Dubai's bid however is not theoretical. It has identified three very tangible key domains to achieve global development: mobility, sustainability and opportunity. For the Expo organizers, the interconnectedness of these 3 subthemes is such that, only by addressing them simultaneously, can we imagine truly global solutions. The Secretary General of the BIE explained this interdependence in his message to the symposium audience: "By enabling access to markets, we can facilitate the movement of goods, people and ideas. By enabling access to basic resources such as energy and water, we can ensure high standards of education and quality of life. And finally, by enabling access and the development of opportunity we can develop human capital, expand access to credit, savings and investments to help build the future together."

The role of World Expos

By nature, Expos offer a space where the whole world can share ideas and discuss innovations. Remembering his personal experience, Pr. Jeffrey Sachs told the audience "Expos open minds". "Expos bring the whole world to one place" added Peggy Liu. "They are a global communal moment" shared Pr. Wang. By bringing together in a unique space, countries, thinkers, innovators, civil society, corporate companies and NGOs, Expos are a great tool to tackle multifaceted issues and engage with the broad public.

The symposium of Dubai: partnerships are centre stage

The Symposium on Expo 2020 Dubai


Over 200 hundred delegates of the BIE attended Dubai’s thematic symposium on the 22nd and 23rd of October. To present the outline of its Expo project and the importance of the theme in the history of Dubai, the Expo organizers brought together the highest ranking Dubai authorities and prestigious international experts.

HH Cheik Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, HE Cheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, HE Reem Al Hashimy, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs – economist and Director UN-SDSN, Tim Clark – President of Emirates Airline, Peggy Liu – President of Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy among many others were gathered to transmit their visions of the theme “Connecting minds, creating the future: Partnerships for Global innovation and sustainable development”.

What came out of the different debates that took place during the event is the intrinsic link between the theme, World Expos and Dubai, forming, in a way, an ecosystem of innovation and discussion.

Dubai sees its theme as a way to address three of the world’s challenges - opportunity, mobility and sustainability - through the lens of partnerships and cooperation. This positioning is actually part of Dubai’s DNA. It is even in its name. “The original name of Dubai meant connection” shared HE Reem Al Hashimy. Since the founder of Dubai impulsed the urbanization of the city in the 1960s, the small town in the desert became on of the world’s most modern, innovative and technological cities in the world attracting investors and workers from over 200 countries. On a daily basis, this new world hub functions on the collaboration of people from all over the world. The British president of state-owned Emirates Airline is a strong example of this multicultural exchange.

This spirit of partnership and innovation echoes the core mission of World Expos. As the Secretary General of the BIE recalled in his message “Expo 2020 Dubai, with its theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” translates the very essence of a World Expo to bring together the variety of different identities and experiences. It will be a driving force in 2020 to help unravel the complexities of our interdependent world, and moreover, to help us all understand our role within it and the best way in which we can all make a contribution.”

Behind Izmir’s candidacy with the Governor, the Mayor and the Secretary General (video)

logo izmir


While in Izmir, we were able to interview three local authorities and get their insights on the candidacy of Izmir to host Expo 2020 :

- Mustafa Toprak, Governor of Izmir, Chairman of EXPO 2020 İZMİR Steering Board and Executive Committee
- Aziz Kocaoğlu, Mayor of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, Member of Expo 2020 Izmir Steering Board
- Dr. Ergüder CAN, Secretary General of İzmir Development Agency and EXPO 2020 İzmir



In a few words :

According to Governor Toprak, the Expo would meet an important objective of international outreach for Turkey and Izmir : share the country's experience in healthcare with the rest of the world and contribute to the UN's development agenda. The Expo would also boost the development of the city, says Mayor Aziz Kocaoğlu, since it would increase tourism, accelerate the improvement of public transportation, but also, and most importantly, because it would allow the creation of an international health center. Izmir already plays an important part in Turkish healthcare. Dr. Ergüder Can explains that Izmir is a pilot city for health policies like the family doctor that was launched in 2008.

Dubai ends the symposium season

A view of Dubai

On the 22nd and 23rd of October, Dubai will host its symposium on Expo 2020. After Ekaterinburg, Sao Paulo and Izmir, Dubai is the last candidate city to uphold its project and present its theme "Connecting minds, building the future". Delegates of the BIE, local authorities and experts will gather for the occasion.

The theme Dubai has chosen expresses in a way the history of the city. In just a few decades, Dubai has become a business and tourism hub that welcomes millions of visitors each month. The city is built on a daily basis through the collaboration of people from different countries, cultures and religions.

Logo Dubai Expo

With the theme "Connecting minds, building the future", Dubai aims at showing the essential role partnerships play in innovation and sustainable sevelopment. Through conferences and workshops led by experts, the symposium will focus particularly on the three pillars of the Expo project : preservation and sustainable production of water and energy, the design of smarter transportation and the multiple opportunities that stem from new economic models.

After the symposium, the next step for Dubai and the three other candidate cities will be the vote on the 27th of November during the General Assembly of the BIE.

Expo 2020 Izmir, for a new health hub

Izmir's Expo project reflects Turkey's ambition to share its medical expertise with the rest of the world and turn Izmir into a global health center. A World Expo isn't just a temporary event. It can, and it should, be a lever to speed up local development.

A view of the site project, Expo 2020 Izmir

Encouraging figures

In recent years, Turkey has undergone important progress in healthcare, announced the Governor of Izmir, Mustafa Toprak, during the symposium on Health for all : life expectancy went from 71,4 years old in 2001 to 74,3 years old in 2010, infant mortality rate decreased from 28,5 ‰ to 10,1 ‰ between 2003 and 2010, access to healthcare increased by 20 points to 90% in ten years and the level of satisfaction for health services almost doubled, from 39% to 76%. Medical tourism increased in the past years as this progress drew the attention of neighboring countries as well as European and North American countries. According to Dr. Ruşen Yıldırım, Chairman of Health Tourism and Business Council, the number of foreigners that came to Turkey for medical treatment increased from 75 000 to 200 000 between 2008 and 2012.


A World Expo to boost Turkey's international position in healthcare

Building on this expertise, Turkey has reinforced its international cooperation programs on health, investing 200 million dollars in 2012, versus 85 million in 2008. Turkey sees its Expo project as a means to boost its influence in healthcare. According to M. Toprak, "The Expo would allow us to reinforce our contribution to the WHO and share our experience".

In this context, Izmir plays a special part. Many centuries ago, the city witnessed the origins of western medicine. Today, it welcomes 5 medical faculties and, according to the Secretary General of the Expo, Dr Ergüder Can, it is a pilot city for Turkey in terms of the health policies. For example, it is in Izmir that the family doctor was first implemented. With a World Expo, the country hopes to turn Izmir into a world health hub. Out of the 600 ha of the Inciralti region where the Expo would take place, 400 ha would be dedicated to the creation of 2 health campuses, universities, research centers as well as new hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.

The Expo site, an area for pleasure and relaxation

The site from the sky, Expo 2020 Izmir

The site project from the sky


The Expo would cover about 205 ha and would be located around a natural lagoon bisected by a road. This road would be used as a main boulevard surrounding the site, connecting all areas. According to the Expo organizers, the site project aims at improving the quality of life in the area and is based on principles of sustainability and ecology. Like the project of Expo 2020 Sao Paulo, nature preservation plays an important part in the design of the site since many trees surround the natural lagoon and numerous bird species like flamingos live in the area. Production of solar and geothermal energy would also help contribute to the requirements of the site. After the Expo, the site would become a public park, to offer a relaxation space to the health centre.

A view from the site project, Expo 2020 Izmir

Inside the Expo

Health is development is health

Angelique Kidjo at Health Care symposium Expo 2020 Izmir

« When you are in good health you understand better » Like all those who spoke during the symposium on Health for all, Angélique Kidjo, beninoise musician and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, reminded the audience that health is at the basis of development. It's simple: a sick population cannot have as much energy for work as a healthy population.

However, even though we have gained 30 years of life expectancy in the past 60 years, inequalities are persistent and bad access to healthcare, chronic malnutrition or extreme climate conditions are important causes of mortality and diseases. To these problems that severely hit the poorer areas of the world, development in richer areas adds on ills like obesity, pollution or smoking.

An issue of global governance
For Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, health is a precious and global right. Governments have to create the necessary public policies to preserve this right, and countries have to work together to pool their experiences and resources. « No country can solve health issues alone» she claimed to the delegates of the BIE. The UN, with its Millennium Development Goals and their post-2015 agenda, and the WHO, with its 2020 health program aim at setting common objectives for countries and building an intervention framework. The priorities of the program are prevention and health promotion. It is a medical issue, but also an economical one since care costs today 100 billion dollars per year. The WHO's program has been approved by 53 countries and 12 are already adapting their health care systems. In this context, a World Expo, by its nature, could contribute to this international cooperation by "encompassing dialogue, action and innovation at the same time and in the same place" between all actors of the field, as reminded by the message of the Secretary General of the BIE.

The challenge of changing habits
International governance and local policies have to improve access to healthcare. They also have to be levers to a healthier world. According to Dan Buettner, best-selling author and Emmy awarded documentary producer, genes determine 25% of our health, the remaining 75% are linked to our environment and how we live. By traveling the world, he found 5 places with the highest rate of centenarians: Ikaria in Greece, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy and Loma Lina in California. They are not magical enclaves, but simply places where the population does four things right: it moves, it prays (or another relaxing activity), it eats healthy food and it goes out with friends. Dan Buettner decided to implement this way of life in the US. In a place where it is often easier and cheaper to eat rich or sweet food, public policies have a crucial role to play to make the healthier choice more accessible. Buettner launched his experience in Albert Lea, Minnessota, thanks to the cooperation of the city leadership and its citizens. In 18 months, the city gained 3 years life expectancy.

Breakthroughs with innovation
Inspiration can come from observing best practices, like the centenarian's way of life. It can also come from observing problems. Pr. Joshua Silver, physicist, realized that 3 billion people need glasses and only 1,7 billion people have glasses. He didn't face a math problem, but a healthcare issue: the ophthalmological system of the developed world cannot work in areas where there are not enough practitioners. He therefore invented $1 self adjustable glasses. 60 000 of these glasses have already found a nose, and Pr. Silver hopes to reach 1 billion by 2020.
In another field, Bart de Witte, Industry Leader Healthcare CEE at IBM, developed an algorithm that can reach all available medical information (books, case studies, medical reports etc.) on a particular subject and offer a diagnosis to the doctor. Today, it seems to have an accuracy level of 90%, vs 50% for a doctor. The system has been developed for lung and brest cancer. For Bart de Witte, "the future of health will be smart".

The symposium on Health for all : many speakers, one message

Logo du symposium sur la Santé pour tous


The symposium of Izmir on « Health for all » took place on September 7th. It was Izmir's last big event in the race for Expo 2020 and it allowed the candidate city to present the global nature of its theme and demonstrate the importance of Izmir in the history of health, from Ancient Times until today.

Like Milan 2015, Izmir has chosen an Expo project that would contribute to the Millenium Development Goals and the UN's post-2015 agenda. The symposium on health enabled Izmir to launch a global discussion on the subject and tackle important issues such as Education and Public Health, Innovation, Care and Collaboration and Healthy living.

Many experts were gathered for the event : Dr. Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, Turkish Minister of Health, Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Yaman Tokat, medical doctor, Dr. Kirsty Duncan, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dr. Serdar Çam, President of the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency. These different voices were all driven by the same conviction: health for all is the source of progress and it cannot be obtained without strong public policies and solid international cooperation.

During the opening ceremony of the symposium, the message of the Secretary General of the BIE explained how the universal theme of the Izmir bid echoes the spirit of World Expos: "The theme of health is of great significance for the BIE not only because it is an implicit driver for cooperation, but also because it reflects the focus that Expos place on quality of life. The BIE Convention contains the term "progress" to define what Expos should demonstrate. Today, the meaning of progress is coming to signify the "pursuit of better quality of life". Shared well-being has come to be at the core of the educational mission of these great events."

The theme of health also reflects the history of Izmir. As recalled by Mustafa Toprak, Governor of Izmir, and Dr. Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, Izmir, where Hippocrates and Galen of Pergamon have lived and studied, is the birthplace of western medicine. Today, it welcomes many universities and health centers. With the Expo, the city hopes to become a world health hub.

Final countdown to the symposium of Izmir on “Health for all”


A view of the site of Ephesus, near Izmir

Third of the season, Izmir will host its symposium dedicated to health on Monday 7th of October. After Ekaterinburg and Sao Paulo, it is now up to the Turkish city to convince the BIE delegates of the relevance of its Expo project.

Candidate to Expo 2015 opposite Milan, Izmir has chosen to compete again for Expo 2020 bearing a meaningful theme for the city: "Health for all". Izmir, a city of great historical past, is the birthplace of western medicine and is today renowned for its thermal baths and health institutes.

Izmir view

A view of Izmir

For the Expo organizers, health is the key to happiness and well-being and with the Expo, they want to create a platform where all key players can exchange solutions, test their innovations and deal new partnerships.

To launch the debate, Izmir will bring together Mustafa Toprak, Governor of Izmir Chairman of EXPO 2020 Izmir steering board and Exectuive comittee, Dr. Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, Minister of Health, Binali Yildririm, Minister of transport, Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, Angélique Kidjo, UNICEF goodwill ambassador and musician, Dr. Yaman Tokat, medical doctor, Dr. Kirsty Duncan, Nobel Prize Winner, and many others.

The symposium is the last step in the bid process to a World Expo. The season will finish end of october with the symposium of Dubai « Connecting minds, building the future ». The vote for the host of Expo 2020 by the BIE delegates will take place in Paris on November 27th during the General Assembly of the organization.

Page 2 of 3