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Adapting to needs of our era

AS Secretary General of the BIE, I have had the privilege to be part of the development of World Expo Shanghai 2010 from its genesis to today. Shanghai 2010 is a unique opportunity to promote the urgent theme of urban quality of life and to inject new energy not only in the host city and country, but also in World Expos themselves. This is why I look forward to the opening of this major event with great expectations.

Shanghai 2010 is setting up to be a very influential Expo for a combination of reasons that include its timing, the content of its messages and its potential to provide models for future urban development. Indeed, there is no better time and no better place than Shanghai to host, in 2010, the largest international platform for dialogue, exhibitions and practices on "Better City, Better Life."

Today cities have become the key players in the global stage on all matters leading to the creation of more harmonious urban societies, environments and economies. Because they are ultimately responsible for implementing the solutions to enhance urban quality of life, cities are the new partners of regions and governments in tackling the major urban challenges of our century.

Shanghai is particularly well positioned to develop and to promote the universal theme of "Better City, Better Life" through a World Expo for many reasons. As the first developing country to host a World Expo, China can be the bridge that connects developed and developing nations by creating a platform for cooperation between the different cities.

China is also a vast and diverse country with different patterns of development and a millenary tradition; each nation will find some common ground in China, while Shanghai will embody the experiences or challenges faced by the majority of the world's cities. This is why this Expo in Shanghai can support the global effort to connect developed and developing world, rich and poor, urban and rural environments, innovation and tradition.

Shanghai 2010 will contribute to these goals with the unique characteristics of Expos, that is by providing a laboratory for the urban future thanks to the innovations that will be spearheaded through the Expo. Visitors as well as participants will develop a greater awareness of the changes that begin to be implemented in Shanghai, while also experiencing the vision of the future transformations that will shape other cities in China and in the rest of the world.

Any World Expo has the three objectives of education, innovation and cooperation that help frame the theme and identify new ways of presentation and promotion. Therefore, Shanghai 2010 will have to stress education for urban quality of life. This means reaching the minds and the hearts of the city leaders and the people living in cities to share the understanding that the city itself is a common resource that must be enhanced in its aesthetic quality, its management quality, its environmental quality and, last but not least, its human quality.

Shanghai 2010 will also promote innovation for urban quality of life by bringing together practices and experiences from all over the world through the Urban Best Practices Area. This is in itself an innovation in World Expos because it allows cities, for the first time, to take an active part in the Expo. Through this platform, Shanghai has given to the cities around the world an opportunity to share practices, to establish a dialogue and to promote their achievements.

Finally, Shanghai 2010 will facilitate cooperation for urban quality of life, which is a top priority if we are to successfully face the challenges of our global society. In fact, today, no solution can be implemented only within the boundaries of a city or with the resources of each city. The scale of the problems and the interconnection of our societies call for solutions that must rely on new forms of partnerships between cities, regions and governments.


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