Here’s How Expo 2020 Paved the Way for a Green Economy

Monday 25th April 2022
Here’s How Expo 2020 Paved the Way for a Green Economy

What was once considered a frankly unattainable aspiration of environmentalists, has recently escalated into a full-blown commercial phenomenon. From governing bodies and multinational corporations, right down to SMEs, we are currently witnessing a collective transition into what is known as a ‘green economy’. 


A green economy refers to an innovative system of economic activities that are low carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive. Through its principles, a green economy contributes to improved human wellbeing and social equity, all while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. 


5 Principles of a Green Economy


  1. Wellbeing: prioritise human development, health, happiness, education, and community.
  2. Justice: support equity, equality, community cohesion, social justice, and human rights.
  3. Planetary boundaries: protect biodiversity and soil, water, and air quality, since a healthy natural world is the only way for humans to excel.
  4. Efficiency & sufficiency: create prosperity within planetary boundaries through a low-carbon and circular approach.
  5. Good governance: build institutions that combine democratic accountability, public participation, informed consent, and transparency.


6 Benefits of a Green Economy


Green Economy in the UAE


The earliest talks of a green economic agenda came about as a result from the 2008 global economic crisis, offering a more sustainable method of rebuilding the economy. By 2014, 65 countries around the world were already implementing green policies and 48 countries were in the midst of developing national green economy strategies[1].


Among these, much to everyone’s surprise, was the UAE - one of the top global exporters of fossil fuels. The pace and depth of the UAE’s engagement with the green economy agenda is without a regional parallel. A fact that has recently been highlighted through Expo 2020 Dubai.


Expo 2020 and Sustainability 


Expo 2020 Dubai was designed to be the most sustainable world Expo in history. The RISE strategy was created to integrate a number of processes and methodologies across every aspect of operations to demonstrate how businesses, cities and even countries can transition into a green economy.


RISE Guidelines for Sustainable Operations


  1. Respect: this covers areas such as child labour, worker welfare, and fair trade. It also emphasises the importance of making facilities physically accessible to all, including those with disabilities.
  2. Impact: requirements in this area encourage the wider uptake of sustainable behaviours to influence positive social development through local and responsible sourcing, and education. 
  3. Safety: suppliers were to adhere to Expo 2020’s Health & Safety requirements which covered everything from food hygiene, to cleaning and retail products.
  4. Environment: recognising the need for good stewardship and accountability, with a target of diverting 85% of waste from landfills. 


The objective of the RISE Guidelines was to position Expo 2020 as a catalyst for sustainability across the entire region and leave behind a sustainable legacy. Expo 2020 exemplified the success of the strategy, which can be adopted by individuals and organisations for years to come. 


The Legacy of District 2020


Although Expo 2020 has now come to an end, its sustainable initiatives are here to stay. In fact, at least 80% of Expo 2020’s permanent infrastructure will be repurposed at District 2020.


Specifically designed to serve as the model global community for the future, District 2020 will use state-of-the-art innovation, science, and sustainability to create a human-centric smart city. The city is designed to be adaptable, evolving and responding to our dynamic global environment.


How Will District 2020 Support a Green Economy?


  • District 2020’s Scale2Dubai programme has been designed to support start-ups and small businesses, recognising them as key contributors to innovation, job creation, and economic growth.
  • The Sustainability Pavilion will be transformed into a children’s museum and science centre for educational purposes.
  • Residents will be able to get anywhere in the city within a 15-minute walk or bike ride.
  • Extensive public transport networks of buses and autonomous vehicles.
  • 10km of cycling tracks, 5km of jogging tracks and multipurpose sports facilities.
  • 45,000 square metre parks and open spaces as well as shaded areas help to combat the extreme summer heat and urban heat island effect.
  • 22% of the site’s electrical power will come from solar panels.
  • Buildings have been designed to consume almost 50% less water.
  • Smart irrigation systems collect and monitor water usage to further optimise water consumption.



Polypipe Middle East’s Role in a Green Economy


Our award-winning sustainable water management system, Permavoid, was integrated into movable tree planters as a net-zero, self-irrigating solution. Removing the need for conventional drip lines means the tree planters can be easily relocated anywhere within District 2020. Permavoid was also installed on the roofs of the Opportunity and Mobility pavilions as a source control strategy, reducing the risk of flooding.


Another one of our sustainable water management systems, Polystorm, was installed under the UAE, Sustainability, and Mobility pavilions to collect and store water channelled from rainwater outlets and surface drains.


By collecting, filtering, and storing water, both Permavoid and Polystorm reduced overall water consumption at Expo 2020 while also minimising the risk of flooding, and will continue to do so in District 2020. Our unique technology supports a circular and green economy and contributed to the LEED Gold and Platinum certification granted to the pavilions. 


What’s Next?


A global transition towards a green economy will require a fundamental shift in priorities, not just on a government level, but across all industries and all businesses. Expo 2020 Dubai successfully pushed the concept of green economy into the global spotlight. Now, all eyes are on District 2020 to demonstrate the viability and long-term benefits of such an approach, in order to encourage widespread adoption.


Are you looking to play a part in shaping the global green economy? Our expertise in the field of sustainable urban drainage and water management can help you achieve your sustainability objectives and position yourself as a leader in this global transition.


With our help, you can increase ROI, support sustainability, and enhance wellbeing - all through our customisable sustainable water management strategy, specifically designed to meet your project requirements. Simply get in touch to find out how!


Tel: +971 (0) 4 807 3000


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