Monday, October 2, 2023

World’s Fairs – Looking ahead through 2030

By Jim Ogul

Congratulations to Expo 2020 Dubai, which was delayed by the pandemic but has now triumphantly opened its gates for a six-month run as the first world’s fair in the MENA region.

Expo 2020 Dubai opened October 1 and had over 400,000 visitors in the first 10 days of operation.   Organizers have forecast 25 million visits by closing day.

What’s next after Dubai? InPark’s world’s fair specialist Jim Ogul looks at the process and the hosts candidates for coming years. 

Expo categories

There are two categories of world’s fairs sanctioned by the Bureau International des Exhibitions (BIE): World Expos and Specialized Expos. World Expos take place every five years, have a broad theme, cover a larger area than Specialized Expos and run for six months. Specialized Expos can take place any year between World Expos, are smaller-sized events with a three-month duration and a narrower theme.

The next World Expo is set to take place in Osaka, Japan in 2025. Currently there are slots available to host an additional World Expos in 2030, and a Specialized Expo in 2027.

Osaka 2025
Expo 2025 Osaka Master Plan. Courtesy Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition

Expo 2025 will take place in Osaka, Kansai (Japan) from April 13 to October 13 2025 with the theme “Designing Future Society for Our lives.”  Kenji Wakamiya, the newly appointed Minister responsible for Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai, recently stated that the Expo is a “great opportunity” for Japan and the world, and that the whole Expo team is working to deliver an event that gives “dreams, hopes and surprises” to people around the world will give dreams, hopes and surprises to people all over the world. “

A total of 150 countries and 25 international organizations are expected to participate in Expo 2025. As of September 28, 2021, 57 countries and five international organizations had already confirmed their participation.

Osaka, Japan brings significant prior experience to the table as the host of the Expo 70 world’s fair and the 1990 World Horticultural Exposition, both regulated by the BIE.

Expo 2030: Five candidates

The six-month bid phase for World Expo 2030 began April 29, 2021 when the Russian Federation notified the BIE of its candidature. This was followed by the Republic of Korea’s candidature, submitted to the BIE on June 23, and by Italy’s candidature, submitted on October 7, Ukraine’s submitted on October 16 and the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia’s, submitted October 29. The BIE deadline was October 29, 2021 at 5pm CET.

Next comes the project examination phase in which each candidate will submit a detailed candidature dossier. The BIE will then create enquiry missions to assess the feasibility and viability of each candidature project. The host country of World Expo 2030 will then be elected by BIE Member States gathered in a General Assembly, on the principle of one country, one vote.

Minnesota bids for 2027
Mark Ritchie, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Minnesota World’s Fair Bid Committee presents on a previous Minnesota Expo bid. Courtesy United States Department of State.

On July 29, 2021, the United States notified the BIE that it is seeking to organize a Specialized Expo in the State of Minnesota. The expo would run May 15-August 15, 2027 and would be the first world’s fair hosted in North America since 1986, and the first in the US since 1984.

Any other countries wishing to organize a Specialized Expo in 2027/28 have until January 28, 2022 at 5pm CET – to notify the BIE of their candidature.

Specialized Expos, known officially as “International Recognized Exhibitions,” are organized in the years between two World Expos. Lasting up to three months within an exhibition area spanning a maximum of 25 hectares, they are aimed at addressing a precise challenge facing humanity.

We reached out to Mark Ritchie who is heading up Minnesota’s efforts and he said, “Minnesota USA Expo 2027 has moved into high gear with advanced planning here in Minnesota and learning all that we can from our colleagues in Dubai and Osaka who are the pioneers when it comes to organizing mega-events during global pandemics. Our public and private sector support at the community, state, and federal levels has been an inspiration.”

Jim Ogul
Jim Ogul
Since retiring from the US State Department in 2011 after a 30+ year career in world expos, James Ogul ([email protected]) has remained on the scene in an advisory and consulting role. He writes regularly for InPark Magazine about world’s fairs. See his free online book, Tales From the Expo.

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