An emotional journey that tells the captivating story of humankind’s relationship with nature, and our impact on it, awaits millions of visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai’s Sustainability Pavilion.
The Pavilion, named Terra (meaning Home Earth), will ultimately reveal the complex interconnection between people and nature, which means when one suffers, so does everyone. It will emphasise the urgency of addressing negative environmental impacts, caused mainly by human behaviour, through an engaging and personal experience that is designed to empower visitors to understand their impact on the environment and become agents of change.
Terra will bring to life the UAE and Expo 2020’s commitment to sustainability, acting as a catalyst for change in the nation, the region, and throughout the world. Sustainability is one of Expo 2020’s three key sub-themes and the six-month event will serve as a platform to drive change, share solutions, and explore new ideas that encourage us to take action collectively in order to save planet earth.
Announced on Earth Day in April, Terra incorporates the experience in and around Expo 2020’s Sustainability Pavilion, previously launched as a remarkable piece of architecture that pushes the boundaries of sustainable design and cutting-edge technologies.
The visitor experience commences in a wadi – a dry riverbed – and tells the story of Arabia, reflecting that the next World Expo is the first to be held in the Arab world. Visitors of all ages can walk in the tracks of huge elephants, follow the footsteps of a cheetah, and discover the plant life and animals of the Arabian Peninsula, while learning how humankind and nature can thrive in harmony.
Massive installations inspired by iconic fairground attractions will then make clear crucial sustainability issues and concepts. By way of example, a giant balance maze will require multiple people to work together to bring Earth into balance, symbolising Expo 2020’s theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.
Visitors then arrive at a crossroads where their journey becomes a ‘choose your own adventure’. Might you venture ‘Under the Ocean’ or ‘Under the Forest’? The forest route will take visitors through the ‘Wood-Wide-Web’ to find out about the astonishing symbiotic network of roots and fungi that allow trees to communicate and share resources. ‘Under the Ocean’ provides a fascinating journey of discovery into the world of whales, dugongs, oysters and other marine life. Imagine being serenaded by a whale love-song as you progress into the hidden mysteries of the bio-luminescent creatures that dwell in the ocean’s midnight zone – the area so deep it receives no sunlight.
Pausing to catch their breath – after having it taken away by the majesty of the natural world – visitors will then change gear to face the reality of humankind’s impact on Mother Nature. The Consumption Halls will lay bare the magnitude of the damage brought on by consumerism through installations such as Gnasher, an insatiable giant consumption-machine that ingests endless amounts of natural resources to churn out single-use consumer products, demonstrating how our choices depend on using the Earth’s bounty … often needlessly.
It is after this eye-opening section that visitors are encouraged to self-reflect and become aware of their choices. A series of ‘would you rather?’ scenarios will challenge them to consider how individual behaviours directly impact our world.
Their journey will then be turned upside down at the Laboratory of Future Values. Embodying Expo 2020’s message of ‘Welcome the Future’, the laboratory is a hopeful space that presents solutions to the challenges, issues, and worries raised earlier. Communities, entrepreneurs, SMEs, governments, scientists, and others who are working to preserve the environment will be readily available to present case studies and discuss their projects with visitors.
The Terra experience culminates by asking visitors to make an individual pledge that supports positive change. This could be as simple as reducing food waste or not using single-use plastic. With capacity for 4,400 visitors per hour over 173 days, that could equal millions of changes that help preserve the environment.