Ground-breaking net-zero strategy leads positive results from Expo 2020's Climate and Biodiversity Week

The series of events examined how we can work together to better manage climate change and protect biodiversity


DUBAI – The landmark announcement of a national drive to achieve net-zero emissions in the UAE by 2050 topped seven days of action, dialogue and hope for the future as Expo 2020 Dubai wrapped up Climate and Biodiversity Week.

The series of events examined how we can work together to better manage climate change and protect biodiversity. With high-level attendees, including former world leaders and UN heads, it answered urgent calls for action from experts and change-makers from around the globe, and laid solid groundwork for a blueprint to safeguard the planet.

The first of 10 Theme Weeks at Expo 2020, Climate and Biodiversity Week comes ahead of the crucial COP26 international climate summit that begins in Glasgow, UK, next month.

The Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, the first by a nation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, was announced at Expo 2020, with the attendance of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Accompanied by a AED600 billion investment in renewable energy, it was applauded by notable international figures, including United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, COP26 President Alok Sharma, and John Kerry, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, who called it an “incredibly important” step in combating climate change.

It topped a series of initiatives during the week that clearly demonstrated the UAE’s vision for a clean future as it bids to host COP28 in November 2022, as well as Expo’s pivotal role in galvanising a groundswell of collaborative global action.

Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “There’s no better launchpad than Expo 2020, which has sustainability at its core. With all eyes on Expo 2020 Dubai, the vision for concerted climate action of this initiative will inspire all.”

Part of Expo’s ‘Programme for People and Planet’, Climate and Biodiversity Week kicked off with the ‘People’s Promise’ – a powerful message from young change-makers and climate leaders to policy-makers meeting at COP26, stressing that there is no time to waste and calling for more ambitious and courageous action.

COP26 was also front of mind for many participants at the World Green Economy Summit 2021, where attendees were unequivocal about the need for immediate action to avoid the environmental catastrophe that the world faces, and urged the international community and the public to put pressure on the governments who sign new agreements in Glasgow.

DP World, Global Trade Partner of Expo 2020, took the opportunity to launch the Expo 2020 Dubai Wildlife Pledge to combat illegal wildlife trade (IWT), raising awareness, mobilising resources and sharing strategies to have a real impact at the global level.

Expo 2020 was widely praised for its work in bringing together the world to collaborate on the fight ahead, and on driving the conversation on climate change and protecting biodiversity. It also announced major milestones of its own, supporting its quest to host one of the most sustainable World Expos in history.

Also revealed was an initiative with Dutch company Global Sustainabile Enterprise System (GSES) – a tailored software platform to measure the sustainability impact of the event’s suppliers and Country Pavilions; it received official certification from leading international independent assessment body the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) for its site-wide sustainable event management processes; and also revealed, in its 2020-21 Sustainability Report, that it has beaten many of its own sustainability targets – including reducing its energy and water demands, and raising the amount of waste diverted from landfill.

Climate and Biodiversity Week ended on Saturday, but that did not signal an end to the conversation at Expo 2020. Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), the global platform for accelerating sustainable development hosted by Masdar, announced a new collaboration that will bring elements of the event to Expo 2020.

ADSW is one of the largest gatherings of its kind, which welcomes each year around 45,000 participants from more than 170 countries. The week will return from 15-19 January 2022, and feature a series of high-level in-person and virtual events, including the ADSW Opening Ceremony and the Zayed Sustainability Prize Awards Ceremony, due to take place at Dubai Exhibition Centre on 17 January 2022.

Bringing ADSW’s vital platforms to Expo 2020 further demonstrates the UAE’s leading role in driving action on climate change – at home, in the region and throughout the world.

Millions of visitors to Expo 2020 can also join the fight for our future in a number of ways, experiencing the work being done by Expo’s participating nations, and exploring pavilions across the site to learn more.

The specially-curated ‘People for Planet’ journey whisks visitors on a fascinating path of discovery that encourages them to take action. The self-guided tour, available on the Expo 2020 app, is designed to change behaviours to mitigate our impact on the world, and visits the national pavilions of Germany, the Maldives, Mozambique, New Zealand, the Seychelles, Singapore, Slovenia and Tonga, plus the spectacular Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion.

Visitors can also take the ‘Waste Warriors’ journey – a self-guided tour available on the Expo 2020 app – which navigates through a range of dynamic initiatives, from vertical farming to biodegradable alternatives, and from sipping out of edible coffee cups to converting food waste into gourmet food. The tour takes in the national pavilions of Austria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Comoros, Finland, Hungary and Switzerland.

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