Key issues make Expo 2020 Dubai and AKDN partner for the planet - GulfToday

Key issues make Expo 2020 Dubai and AKDN partner for the planet

expo art 2

AKDN leads historic restoration in Lahore, Pakistan.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Development professionals from the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), from countries around the world, are collaborating in Expo 2020 Dubai’s Programme for People and Planet.

“The AKDN’s wide-ranging partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai is founded on a shared commitment — and recognition — that the most pressing challenges facing humanity can best be addressed through cultural, social, environmental and economic initiatives,” says the organisation.

The Network’s contributions to Expo’s programmes draw upon its experience in establishing best practices that includes comprehensive, integrated social, economic, cultural and environmental projects in over 35 countries.


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As a partner in association with Expo 2020’s Urban and Rural Development Week, the AKDN has worked together with UAE government ministries, as well as Siemens and UN Habitat, to inform the programme’s vision, direction and content.

It has also contributed to Expo’s Theme Weeks on Climate and Biodiversity, Tolerance and Inclusivity, and Knowledge and Learning. Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Sharing ideas and knowledge is crucial, and nations and organisations must work together on collaborative solutions to global challenges that affect us all.

“The UAE welcomes the active participation of organisations such as the Aga Khan Development Network, as we seek to build a cleaner, safer, healthier world for everyone.”

expo art 1 Aerial night view of Al Wasl Plaza at Expo site.

AKDN, working with the ministries of the UAE and local and international civil society organisations, is coordinating numerous presentations at Expo 2020 Dubai, including on sustainable and climate-resilient mountain development; promoting livelihoods and economies in the face of climate change; a World Majlis on engineering a balanced city; exploring best practices in urban and rural development; presenting music for peace and development; catalysing teacher-led innovations in education at scale and innovating philanthropic financing — how to invest in education during times of uncertainty.

Michael Kocher, General Manager of the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), the principal grant-making agency for social development within the Aga Khan Development Network, said: “The United Arab Emirates and the Aga Khan Development Network have worked closely together for many years in areas of common interest, including architecture, culture, education and healthcare.

“The AKDN’s collaboration with Expo 2020 Dubai is a reflection of this abiding partnership, which is founded upon a shared commitment to addressing key concerns relating to human development, to improve the quality of life of the world’s most vulnerable populations.”

Describing the partnership, Nadia Verjee, Chief of Staff, Programme for People and Planet, Expo 2020 Dubai, said that “Expo 2020 Dubai is bringing together a variety of voices from around the globe to help spur collaborative action towards solving some of the world’s most pressing issues.

“Ideas and solutions can come from everywhere, and the Aga Khan Development Network’s expertise across topics from urban and rural development to knowledge and learning, as well as climate and biodiversity issues, will enhance and strengthen our extensive programme of events, and drive towards stronger and more meaningful outcomes.”

AKDN was founded and is guided by the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of Ismaili Muslims. It is a group of private international development agencies that works to improve the quality of life and to create opportunity for people around the world.

AKDN’s approach to development spans a range of cultural, social, economic and environmental endeavours. The mandates of its agencies include education and health, agriculture and food security, micro-finance, human habitat, crisis response and disaster reduction, protection of the environment, art, music, architecture, urban planning and conservation, and cultural heritage and preservation.

A principal focus for the AKDN is the enhancement of a pluralist civil society as an underwriter of human progress. Recognising interdependence, upholding the dignity of life and valuing partnership, the body seeks to promote stability, nurture innovation and create an enabling environment that allows all, regardless of their differences, to realise their full potential.

Grounded in the social conscience of Islam and the responsibility incumbent upon Muslims to care for those in need and to uphold human dignity, the AKDN has helped improve the lives of millions of people of all faiths and origins around the world.

Expo 2020 Dubai (Oct. 1 — March 31, 2022) is being held with the purpose of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. It is a big cultural gathering, where more than 200 participants — including nations, multilateral organisations, businesses, and educational institutions, as well as millions of visitors — create the largest and most diverse World Expo ever.

Expo 2020’s subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability are aimed to inspire visitors to preserve and protect the planet, explore new frontiers and build a better future for everyone.

The Expo hosts thousands of events, exploratory experiences, and entry is free for children up to age 18. It is committed to building a more equitable and just world for everyone, while keeping visitors safe by following the latest guidance of the world’s leading medical, science and health experts.

It is also the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region. Located on a 4.38 square kilometres site, it is adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai South.

The Expo has been built with a meaningful and measurable long-term legacy in mind, so that the site will transform into District 2020 — a model global community that will rethink the cities of the future — after it closes its doors.

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