Expos are large-scale, global events organised and facilitated by governments that serve to educate the public, share innovation, promote progress and foster cooperation. Since the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, Expos have been a showcase of innovation and inspiration to humankind and are today unrivalled among international events in their size, scale, length and visitor numbers.
In the modern era, Expos have evolved into platforms for education and progress, inspiring and connecting the actions of governments and civil society in their common endeavour to face global challenges with the available resources. The pursuit of a better quality of life for all citizens is at the core of the educational mission of Expos, and this is now showcased through innovation based on solutions and best practices rather than materials and products.
Expos bring the world together in a grand and common project to find solutions to a fundamental challenge facing humanity. This challenge is addressed via the Expo’s theme, which acts as a springboard for what participants will showcase and what intellectual and cultural events will be organised. In the spirit of education and communication, shared concern based on the Expo’s theme encourages international participants to exchange ideas and best practices, to come up with solutions and to develop new forms of cooperation in a non-confrontational setting. The intellectual legacy of Expos, which often comes in the form of a policy document or manifesto, is a result of the dialogue, action and innovation presented and exchanged during the event, demonstrating the role of Expos in public diplomacy.
Combining a wide variety of visual and sensual experiences, Expos are an ephemeral microcosm that offer memorable experiences to participants and visitors alike. The innovative architecture of the Expo site, the interactive exhibits within international pavilions, the ground-breaking technology and the packed cultural programme all make Expos a convivial and engaging experience for visitors. With education as their goal, Expos spark active citizenship and shape new behaviours, increasing awareness of the challenges faced by humanity throughout the world. Offering a snapshot of the world at a given time, Expos advance and encourage the meeting of new cultures, fostering the public’s understanding of interconnections.
By gathering countries from across the world, Expos offer a rare opportunity to promote multilateral public diplomacy and foster improved understanding in global relationships. In their pavilions, countries display and showcase technological innovations and national cultures, engaging with civil society to craft a positive and distinctive national identity. Expos have a transformative power in shaping perceptions of nations and cultures, increasing awareness of the host country and international participants by helping to shape and enhance a nation’s image and reputation.
The economic and cultural development that stem from hosting an Expo is an impetus for lasting urban transformation on the Expo site and beyond. Expo projects are a key part of urban development plans, acting as a catalyst to accelerate the transformation of cities and having a long-term impact on society in both tangible (architecture, urban planning) and intangible ways (culture, education). For citizens, Expos have the capacity to unleash dreams, desires and inspiration, boosting mobility and elevating self-awareness.
Participating in an Expo allows countries to create a fleeting miniature world, a microcosm of global progress and dialogue. Expos provide a unique and international stage to engage in cultural diplomacy and interact with the host country, other participants, potential tourists, trade partners and investors. Through pavilions or dedicated spaces, each country projects itself to large, captive and diverse audiences, creating a global village that offers an unprecedented experience to visitors and participants alike.