Shanghai 2010 Expo. Sustainable?

Last week I was invited to speak at the Net Impact Event Is The Expo Sustainable about the Social Impact that the Expo would bring.  The problem for me was, that while my presentation was interesting, the presentations by the representatives from Hill & Knowlton and ARUP were simply fascinating… and have sent my brain into hyperdrive.

Lindsay Messenger’s message (I bet she hears that all the time) was full of interesting facts that provided for an excellent entry into the discussion:

  • Shanghai was going to spend more than 14bn USD on the expo
  • 2.3 bn for infrastructure/ 10.6bn for operations
  • France would spent 50m EUR on their pavilion/ New Zealand 30m USD

but most importantly… all but 4 of the buildings would be torn down following the 6 month event, and that while France has offered their pavilion as a “gift” to China, to date no other buildings outside of the Chinese buildings are expected to remain.

Kate from ARUP’s presentation took a bit of a different tone.  It looked at the ways in which urban planning and architecture have changed, as their clients requests have changed, and that despite the fact that the majority of the pavilions were being taken down on the Pudong side of the, there was a special section on the Puxi side that would remain:  The Urban Best Practices Area (UBPA), featuring 55+ projects showcasing the best in sustainability.

Best described by the Expo website itself:

The Urban Best Practices Area (UBPA) will be an extraordinary innovation in the history of world expositions, thus creating one of the most striking features of the Shanghai World Expo. Located at Zone E with the area of 15 hectares, UBPA will offer a great stage for cities to propose their solutions to the urban issues from different perspectives and through their best practices in different thematic fields. The UBPA will be both an exhibition area and an exhibit itself and it will constitute the largest Thematic Pavilion in Shanghai Expo 2010.

But, as with everything else expo:

It will be a fascinating zone for a period of 6 months.

As you can imagine, a lot of questions were asked about what the true sustainability of this Expo is. That , while many are advertising this expo as a balance between sustainability and harmony, and the theme itself is Better City, Better Life, there are a lot people who are beginning to wonder if this expo is sustainability defined.. or greenwashing defined.

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