Al Wasl dome – which hosted the awe-inspiring opening ceremony of Expo 2020 Dubai – was among projects that received the highest sustainability ratings.

The first World Expo fair to be held in the Middle East opened in Dubai last month, following a glittering inaugural ceremony of music, song, dance and fireworks that had a pervading message true to the theme of the event ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.

Aside from the 3,000-strong audience inside Al Wasl Plaza, millions across the globe tuned in to virtually view the opening ceremony of the eagerly-awaited event.

Expo 2020 Dubai is the first major global event of its scale to open to visitors since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.  The expo site was built at an cost of some $6.8 billion and is now host to exhibitors from almost 200 countries for a six-month festival of culture, technology and architecture after being delayed for a year by the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the entire show serves as a showcase that exemplifies the Expo Dubai’s subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability, this particular Expo has already hit a major milestone on being recognised as one of the most sustainable World Expos in history after receiving official certification from the leading international independent assessment body the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) for its site-wide sustainable event management processes.

Attainment of ‘ISO 20121:2012 Event Sustainability Management Systems’ verifies that Expo 2020 Dubai has embedded sustainability – one of the mega-event’s three key subthemes – across its entire lifecycle.

The certification is specifically designed for events and aims to optimise sustainability opportunities, and minimise impacts across the environment, communities and the local economy.

This milestone comes soon after numerous infrastructure projects across Expo 2020 Dubai were awarded the highest sustainability ratings from civil engineering assessment giant Ceequal, including Al Wasl Plaza, the beating heart of the Expo site, and its 130-m by 67.5-m dome – home to the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface.

Whether it’s the environmental optimisation of its site-wide infrastructure or the sourcing of sustainable products, Expo 2020 Dubai has been pushing the boundaries of sustainability at a local, regional and global level – placing sustainability issues, such as water, energy, waste, ecology, materials and carbon, at the centre of its operations and visitor experiences, said the organisers.

World-leading third-party testing, inspection and certification services provider Bureau Veritas completed the audit, the final crucial step in achieving certification.

Dina Storey, Director, Sustainability Operations, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Sustainability is an area we see as fundamental to the future of humanity. As such, it is one of our key subthemes, and our commitment to sustainability is reflected in all aspects of our journey to create a meaningful impact that reaches beyond the Expo 2020 Dubai site and beyond the six months of the event.”

“Attaining the ISO 20121 certification to host one of the most sustainable World Expos in history is a testament to the hard work, dedication and excellence of our site-wide team. It fulfils the UAE’s commitment, which was made to the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) during the bid phase, and continues to honour the UAE’s visionary leadership in positioning the country as a pioneer in the green economy and sustainable development.”

Marcel Hochar, Senior Vice-President Bureau Veritas Middle East Region, said: “We salute Expo 2020 Dubai for attaining ISO 20121 certification. With this certification, the event organisers have made a strong statement about the importance of sustainability in their event management approach.”

“For nearly 200 years, we have supported our clients to ensure that their assets, products, infrastructure and processes meet standards and regulations in terms of quality, health and safety, environmental protection and social responsibility,” noted Hochar.

“We are proud to positively contribute to the world we live in and support organisations in their journey toward more sustainable business and a more sustainable world. This collaboration with Expo 2020 Dubai further illustrates how sustainability plays a critical role in every aspect of the mega-event, benefiting its partners, guests and society as a whole,” he added.