By Maria Paz Galarraga
The first World Expo took place in London in 1851, since then the event has traveled all over the world followed by cities like Paris, Vienna, Chicago, and Brussels. The development of these enormous events is linked to the industrial revolution which allowed countries to showcase their power, and technological advancements while simultaneously offering innovative ideas and fostering an improvement in diplomacy. Each event has hosted outstanding technological innovations, diverse cultures, and a positive national identity. It is a key project focused on urban development, a crucial catalyst accelerating the transformation of many cities towards a better future. Each World Expo has created global villages offering an unprecedented experience to every single visitor and participant.
The Bureau for International Exposition founded in 1928 organizes such events efficiently. The history of this organization dates back to 1877 when a memorandum was signed, controlling the size and duration, implementing a rotation system, and a parameter guaranteeing quality. Today, 171 countries are members of this institution. Despite the halt taken because of World War I the first 31 countries signed the convention of regulation for international exhibitions. The purpose of the Bureau is to protect and guarantee quality, education, innovation, and cooperation at each Expo. In 1994 the BIE stated that from now on every Expo must address crucial issues of our time and aim at solutions to tackle the challenges of environmental protection. Each event promotes green and positive industrial innovation, opening spaces for global discussion and dialogue. Over 50 Expos have been regulated by the BIE, all of which have been extremely successful in pushing for change during their time.
Today the world enjoys not only World Expos but also 3 other types of overseas exhibits. Each exposition is classified either as a world exposition or a specialized exhibition. World Expos last up to 6 months with no limit on the size of participants. These are allowed to build their pavilion and theme bearing in mind a universal concern. Instead, specialized exhibitions are limited, these last a maximum of 3 months and are dedicated to specific themes. The hosting city provides the participants with a designated space inside the pavilion. Given the reduced size a specialized exhibition has limits in its expenditure size and duration. The other two international expositions match those two principal Expos in terms of international participation; however, the duration and location are predetermined. Every three years Milano hosts a new innovative exhibition at the Arts Palace and so often other horticultural expositions are co-organized.
This year the candidates for the next World Expo are being evaluated to determine who will be the next host. The organization of each exposition is divided into two sections. First the candidature and then a project examination followed by a vote by all member states. Any country can submit a letter of candidacy to the BIE mentioning the chosen theme, the city, the duration of the exhibition, and everything concerning their legal status. For that candidate to be considered the government must be in full support of the project. To become a candidate for a World Expo, one must submit the letter between 6 to 9 years before the designated date. Yet, to participate as a host city in a specialized expo it only requires submission with 5 years of advancement. No country can repeat its participation unless there is a minimum of 15 years between each organization. However, the Government must always with no exception be on board with the participation, it must recognize the organizer to guarantee the fulfillment of all obligations. Once the candidates have submitted their letters the project examination phase comes into force. A candidature dossier is used as the basis for the inquiry mission. The inquiry mission instead is the assessment of the feasibility and viability of the Expo in the given country. The commission will evaluate the political and social climate of each candidate as well as the regional and state support and finally the legality of all relevant stakeholders. At all elections, the candidates have the right to campaign for their respective projects. Once the inquiry committee has finished, the election process begins. All member states have the right to one vote done through a secret ballot during a general assembly. The findings of the inquiry will influence the results as well as any bilateral relation between the candidates and the voters. If one of those candidates is a member state, they are given priority while non-member state parties need a two-thirds majority.
The upcoming World Expo is in 2030, with some promising candidates on the run for a host. The Republic of Korea with Busan city ran for the position with the theme “Transforming our World, Navigating Towards a Better Future”. They aim to reflect on the understanding that times have changed and so have the type of crisis. Humanity must pursue a transformation that moves towards a better future. Some of their sub-themes are sustainable living, technology for humanity, and a platform for caring and sharing. Busan offers up to 3.4 million square meters of land and water making it the second-largest city in the Republic of Korea. As another option, Ukraine proposes Odesa as the ideal city for the Expo. Their main theme is “Renaissance. Technology. Future” aiming at the relationship between humans and technology. They argue that artificial intelligence and robotics have pushed technologies to a new level, but it is imperative to discuss the dynamics of these relationships. Their focus is on the importance of relevant skills that humans should possess to achieve effective cooperation with the technological future. Odessa is characterized by its multicultural background and ancient history dating back more than 2500 years ago. It is home to more than 130 nationalities and is among the biggest cities in the country. The 3rd place is Saudi Arabia with the city of Riyadh. Their theme is “The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow”, focusing on the courage and innovation required to change our planet’s trajectory towards a better future. Their project is divided into 3 sub-themes: a different tomorrow, climate action, and prosperity for all. The aim is to promote science and innovation towards a positive impact on climate change and to do so we must work proactively including everyone’s voice and strength. Riyadh could be the next catalyst for change as it is in the process of becoming one of the more sustainable and energy-filled destinations of the world.
Lastly, as an old saying goes, ‘all roads lead back to Rome’. The eternal city is getting ready to become the next host for the World Expo 2030 under the theme “People and Territories: Regeneration, inclusion and innovation”. Their focus is on Developing countries and poor rural areas treating themes of inequalities, crime, water, and waste challenging the inclusion of segregated communities in innovation. Their objective is to create a fully inclusive future where no human is left behind and has the same opportunities in terms of infrastructure and service development. The proposed site is a neighborhood with rooted local identities near one of the capital’s main universities. The eternal city offers art, culture, and a space for dialogue, promoting the values of tolerance, togetherness, and partnership.
All four sites provide open spaces aimed at the support of thousands of participants and visitors guaranteeing the 2030s World Expo and extraordinary success. The inquiry mission is yet to be finalized, by November of this year all member states will come together for a final decision. After considering every positive and negative aspect of each city a host country must be chosen. While it is true that all locations offer interesting advantages it is important to note that a country with an unstable social and political situation will be less probable to win. It is of the utmost importance for the BIE that the hosting country is capable of overcoming all the challenges the organization of a World Expo brings. It lies in the hosting countries’ government’s hands that the development of the site’s infrastructure comes through without any sign of corruption or alteration. Being responsible, correct, and on time is essential. After all, each exposition is an exhibition made by the people for the people. It lies in our hands that the 2030 World Exposition becomes once more a memorable and innovative event.
About us, about the Bie who we are how we work the 1928 Paris Convention Our History Faqs about Expos what is an expo? How is an expo organized? A short history of expos. Official Site of the Bureau International des Expositions. (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2023, from https://www.bie-paris.org/site/en/world-expo-2030
Official Website. Expo 2030 Roma. (2022, November 29). Retrieved March 10, 2023, from https://www.expo2030roma.org/
Together for a forsighted tomorrow. Riyadh Expo 2030. (2023, February 28). Retrieved March 10, 2023, from https://riyadhexpo2030.sa/
Making Far-Reaching Waves of Change. 2030 부산세계박람회. (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2023, from https://www.expo2030busan.kr/index.do Всесвітня Виставка. EXPO 2030 Odesa. (2023, March 8). Retrieved March 10, 2023, from https://expo2030odesa.com/