The events industry has been scrutinised throughout the years due to its vast impact on the society, the economy and the environment. From the amount of waste generated in a short period of time to enhancing financial growth, events have proven to bring both negative and positive impacts for host countries and cities.
Consequently, sustainable policies have emerged and started shaping the way we create and develop events to maximise the benefits and contain the disadvantages. Social, economic, and environmental dimensions were then defined to further understand the impacts of sustainability in each sector and how to achieve them. Although most events claim to understand and adhere to sustainable development goals, many still have a long way to come.
One event which is influencing both the event industry and sustainability, is the World Expo. Throughout the years, World Expos have showcased technology, architecture, and culture from around the world allowing the engagement in cultural diplomacy and global progress between countries. In October 2021, Dubai will host the World Expo 2020, which was postponed due to Covid-19. The annual theme will be “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” which tackles three main areas of global development – Sustainability, mobility and opportunity.
Dubai expects an overall positive impact on the country, with an emphasis on the economic benefits in the housing, infrastructure and hospitality sector. It is believed the Dubai Expo will create around 270,000 jobs in the region, bringing both economic and social benefits to the country. Amongst these, an injection of €17.7 billion and an increase in diversity and talent from abroad are also expected. At the same time, the expo brings more intangible benefits such as enhancing the branding of the city and country and improving their international image.
However, short-term impacts need to be considered and managed cautiously. The inevitable boost of capital can generate over development and an excessive price growth of products, services and housing. It is estimated, that to accommodate all visitors, 45,000 additional rooms are necessary. Although urban regeneration and development is seen as a benefit, it comes at a cost. For the preparations and development of the Shanghai Expo infrastructures, thousands of homes were demolished which displaced around 18,000 families. After the event, many of those buildings were proven unusable for other purposes and were abandoned, proving that the economic benefits were considered more important than the community wellbeing.
Rodrigo. (2017). The impact of hosting the World Expo 2020 on Dubai’s future economic, social and cultural life;