Sustainable living at Expo – GulfToday

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Photo used for illustrative purpose.

How will advances in the way we think about energy and infrastructure deliver a sustainable quality of life? This is the central question being discussed by leading figures and companies from a range of sectors during ‘In the Future, How will we Live?’ hosted by the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai from Jan. 11-18, under the UK’s participation theme ‘Innovating for a Shared Future’.

Included in the programme of events are a series of online sessions discussing how the latest innovations in renewable energy and smart city technology can drive solutions to the global challenges set to define a generation. Activities will also consider what a net zero future will look like.

Kicking off the week-long programme of activity is the World Majlis on Digital Twins and New Realities: Living and thriving with new realities. World Majlises build on long-established Emirati and Arab traditions, facilitating global dialogue by inspiring new perspectives with conversations that matter at Expo 2020 Dubai. Co-curated with Expo 2020 Dubai and hosted on the UK Pavilion as part of Travel and Connectivity Week, this forum will consider a future hybrid world consisting of digital and physical realities that can lead to breakthroughs that address our greatest challenges in sectors such as healthcare, education, retail and smart cities.

On Jan.17 and 18, speakers in a series of online Summit panel discussions covering the biggest questions facing humanity include Rachel Skinner, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (2020/21) and Executive Director of Transport at WSP, who will chair a panel session on the logistics of a net zero world, and Dr Jacqui Taylor, CEO and Founder of FlyingBinary and Smart Cities Adviser to the UK Government.

Tackling topics such as the sustainable use of water and food waste, the online summits will also feature Professor Nidal Hilal, Founding Director of the Centre for Water Advanced Technologies and Environmental Research, Swansea University & Director of NYUAD Water Research Centre, Pro Vice-Chancellor International and Dean for the Faculty of Arts, Design and Humanities at De Montfort University.

The UK Pavilion will also host a showcase of models and images from UK at Expo 2020 Dubai Founding Partner De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) student prize-winning designs focused on sustainable living. On 12 and 13 January, UK at Expo 2020 Dubai Official Partner bp are hosting the Reimagining Energy live showcase, which explores the energy transition. bp’s purpose is reimagining energy for people and our planet, and is partnering with countries, cities, and companies as they shape their own paths to net zero.

The showcase is open to the public to join from 17.00 – 19.00 on Wednesday 12 January and 14.00-18.00 on Thursday Jan.13.

Laura Faulkner OBE, UK Commissioner for Expo 2020 Dubai, says: “The latest projections estimate 68 per cent of the world will live in cities by 2050, putting a tremendous strain on global infrastructure, energy, housing, transport and the environment. The UK has a vital role to play in driving a sustainable future across the globe so I’m looking forward to seeing the ideas, innovations and potential solutions that will be discussed during these events.”

Let’s begin with a factoid: over 10 per cent of Expo 2020 visitors in Dubai have been to the United Kingdom Pavilion. Considering that the façade is magnificent and beautifully laid out that is hardly a surprise. However, what caught our attention was the Artificial Intelligence Poem Generator where visitors can contribute words which the system crafts into poetry that is beamed into space. Sounds far-fetched and with our cynical hats on, a bit of a marketing gimmick – it’s anything but.

Visitors to the pavilion can contribute a word, which through AI is weaved into a poem that is transmitted into space. The idea is to essentially project a message that is welcoming and uses our diversity to root for global harmony and unity. As well as transmit our harmony and acceptance of differing cultures.

The AI poem thought stems from renowned physicist Stephen Hawking’s assertion of diversity in what messages we might want to project for extra-terrestrial beings, should they be listening or seeking other forms of life in the universe.

The level of attention to detail boggles the mind. For instance, the collective message that creates the poem was trained on 15,000 poems, from over 100 British poets. Following donations to the pavilion have already produced 51,450 lines of poetry.

We had a chat with Laura Faulkner, UK Commissioner General & Director at Expo 2020 Dubai to dig deeper.

“When we were looking for a designer for the UK Pavilion, we asked for a building that embodies our theme statement, Innovating for a Shared Future. In doing so, the winning designer picked on two or three strengths of the UK, including our role in the betterment of AI as a force for good for the world, and the role that the UK has played in that, past present and future. “Not only do you experience the UK’s role in AI throughout our wider content across the building and our content and events programme, but through the collective message we are inviting the world be a part of the pavilion and its legacy. “Our broader message is that the UK is reimagining its relationship with the world and we are building new and sustained partnerships in order to innovate for a shared future,” Faulkner said.

We also asked the idea behind this approach and Laura said that the initial objective was for visitors to see things differently – see the UK not just through expected content but to present something unfamiliar. “At its heart this is not just about broadcasting what the UK is good at, but inviting all nations and visitors to be a part of what we are doing. This is taking us back to Professor Stephen Hawking’s original intention, which is a message of unity and bringing everyone together in one common language and delivering through something the UK is very proud of – poetry,” she added. The thought is to create something meaningful from broader public contribution.

The UK Pavilion will also host a showcase of models and images from UK at Expo 2020 Dubai Founding Partner De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)?student prize-winning?designs?focused on sustainable living. On Jan.12 and 13, UK at Expo 2020 Dubai Official Partner bp are hosting the Reimagining Energy live showcase, which explores the energy transition. bp’s purpose is reimagining energy for people and our planet, and is partnering with countries, cities, and companies as they shape their own paths to net zero.

The showcase is open to the public to join from 17.00 – 19.00 on Wednesday Jan.12 and 14.00-18.00 on Thursday Jan.13.

Laura Faulkner OBE, UK Commissioner for Expo 2020 Dubai, says: “The latest projections estimate 68 per cent of the world will live in cities by 2050, putting a tremendous strain on global infrastructure, energy, housing, transport and the environment. The UK has a vital role to play in driving a sustainable future across the globe so I’m looking forward to seeing the ideas, innovations and potential solutions that will be discussed during these events.”

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