Expo 2020 Dubai postponed by one year

Today, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) announced that two thirds of BIE Member States had voted to postpone Expo 2020 Dubai for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Netherlands also voted for postponement.

The voting process is still ongoing but this will not change the outcome. This postponement will enable all participating countries to focus on tackling coronavirus and dealing with all the social and economic consequences of the crisis. Expo 2020 Dubai will therefore take place from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Expo after the pandemic

The Netherlands is committed to cooperative partnerships with other countries, and in the meantime Dutch businesses, knowledge institutions and authorities will continue to contribute to solutions to challenges in the Gulf region relating to water, energy and food. The multi-year efforts under the header ‘Uniting water, energy and food’ – three themes that recur within the Sustainable Development Goals – are especially relevant at a time when securing food and water supplies is more important than ever. ‘We’re seeing great new partnerships arise between businesses and governments, especially now during the COVID-19 crisis. That makes me very proud,’ Hans Sandee, the Netherlands’ Commissioner General for Expo 2020, commented. ‘The same goes for our participation in Expo 2020, which is all about “Connecting minds, creating the future”’.

The organisers of the Expo also stressed that working together, inspiring people and jointly seeking new solutions represents the way forward in these challenging times.

Working together is paramount

Prior to voting for postponement, the Dutch Expo team consulted closely with its partner businesses and knowledge institutions. These partners also widely supported a one-year postponement.  The Expo is viewed as one of the major international events in which a start can be made on rebuilding international partnerships and trade in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag said: ‘Government and businesses are working together to see how we can best help entrepreneurs. Not just in the Netherlands but also in other countries. That’s because collaboration is the only way that we can all weather this crisis.’

Construction on the Dutch pavilion temporarily halted

As of the end of May, all construction work on the Dutch pavilion will be halted. By that stage the basic construction work will be complete, and from the point of view of quality and cost, this is also the most favourable moment to halt activities. The sustainable recycled and raw building materials, such as the steel and the dam walls, can easily withstand high temperatures and will retain their natural look, also in the long term. As a result, few if any adverse effects are expected in the period that the building work ceases. Construction is expected to resume in January 2021.

Joint decision

This past week a vote was held among the BIE Member States on whether to postpone Expo 2020. The two-thirds majority, as stipulated by article 28 of the 1928 Paris Convention, was met by a wide margin. The name Expo 2020 will be retained, despite the fact that the event will take place in 2021.