Illustration by Liene Magdalēna

Expo 2020's Pavilions Showcase Sustainable Solutions

Take a sneak peek at the pavillion designs featured in Expo 2020.

Sep 28, 2019

Several designs have been released for pavilions at Expo 2020, demonstrating one of the event’s major goals: sustainability. The role of Expo has historically been to showcase how countries around the world envision their future growth. Expo 2020 mirrors a growing domestic and global concern surrounding climate change and sustainable solutions.
As 2020 approaches, the Expo, held in Dubai this time around, has begun to take form, sharing details for several of their pavilions. It exemplifies a strong desire for a sustainable future through its practices: 50 percent of the energy being used to power Expo 2020 will come from renewable sources, while 85 percent of the waste generated will be prevented from ending up in landfills.
“They want to set a model ... for future events like this, and their goal is that this [will be] one of the most sustainable mega events in the world,” said Professor Shakeel Kazmi, whose research focuses on Environmental and Climate Change Law. “[Expo 2020] is not one isolated event where Abu Dhabi or the UAE … is concentrating on sustainability. It has been their plan way before they got this plan enforced.”
Following the theme of sustainability, Singapore aims to have net-zero energy and water consumption in its pavilion, which is focused on demonstrating how increasing green spaces can mitigate the effects of climate change. Its design – based on its own success in developing urban green spaces – aims to create a lush garden in an arid environment. Brazil’s pavillion emphasizes the importance of sustainable practices and is designed to look like an overflowing riverbank. Construction has just [started] ( on Spain's pavillion, which aims to tell the story of the nation’s development. The design of this pavillion is conical, which will help it naturally cool down, and was designed with reusable materials such as wood and fabric.
“Climate change as a problem cannot be solved only by laws” said Professor Kazmi, emphasizing instead the importance of engaging youths and educating the general population. “Concentrating heavily on the youth population, [the UAE is] putting them on the front line of international climate events.”
Additionally, Kazmi argues that the way Expo 2020 is constructed serves as a role model in educating the public about sustainability. “They are trying to focus on local materials and local technologies … Definitely local companies and local population [are] involved with this one … They do get education and awareness [about sustainable practices and initiatives] by simply getting involved.”
On-campus, there are many ways students can get involved with sustainability initiatives. Student Interest Groups such as Ecoherence and Greenhouse both promote sustainability, with Ecoherence focusing more on improving the conditions on campus, while Greenhouse concentrates more on global sustainability. “Together these student-based actions add up to something more,” said Elza Meiksane, Class of 2022 and Co-President of Ecoherence. “Spreading awareness is really important when it comes to really creating a commitment in people. It’s not just a check in the box or a thing people are talking about, but a longer commitment.”
Matthew Gubbins is Deputy News Editor. Email him at
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