Source: XINHUA | 2012-10-13 | ONLINE EDITION
MILAN, Italy, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Milan Expo under-construction site from Wednesday to Friday opened its gates to delegates of participant countries to highlight Italy's commitment for what is nationally seen as a project to relaunch the recession-hit economy.
The Second International Participants Meeting held in the northern business city hosted various sessions explaining to some 1,000 delegates from over 85 nations the projects of the world exposition, which is expected to attract 20 million visitors from May 1 to Oct. 31 in 2015.
"I have visited the Expo site and have seen the many progresses made," BIE (Bureau of International Expositions) Secretary-General Vicente Loscertales said in his address to the meeting calling himself confident that the Expo plan will overcome the challenges posed by the ongoing crisis.
Prime Minister Mario Monti, who participated in the meeting along with several officials and representants of business associations, said the exposition will be "an extraordinary opportunity for the country's economic recovery" and will meet the international expectations.
The Expo leading theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life," which aims at arousing awareness of the global hunger challenges, carries a fundamental commitment to "the imperative necessity of not wasting."
The number of participants that have already formalized their presence has risen to 105, including 103 countries plus the United Nations and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), according to organizers.
Several civil society organizations will also be part of the Expo by using the common areas of the exposition site (located on a surface of 1.1 million square meters in the north-western part of Milan) and cooperating for the planned 7,000 side events.
But it will be especially the three key elements of creativity, innovation and cooperation to ensure consistency through the whole site putting at the center the visitor experience for a project that Italy believes in to relaunch its economy, said Giuseppe Sala, the CEO of Expo 2015.
"It is not a mystery that the whole of Europe is going through a serious economic crisis, however the Italian government has repeatedly confirmed its effective financial support and, even during the recent spending review, it has not reduced the amount allocated to the project by a penny," he said.
Sala said the government has not modified its planned investment of 1.3 billion euros (1.6 billion U.S. dollars), whereas last year the local authorities had to review their stake.
"However, we are convinced that, in the near future, we will be able to announce further investment from the private sector which will help to compensate this," he added.
"We are all aware of the challenges that the world faces in order to ensure food safety and food security for the nine billion people that will inhabit the planet in 2050," the CEO noted.
"And we really believe that research and development in fields such as irrigation, biotechnology, soil and nutrient management, efficient harvesting and early transformation of products will help solve the issues of feeding our planet," he highlighted.
From this perspective, the Expo 2015 is the opportunity to showcase the sustainable solutions that a number of foreign companies, including many from China, are experimenting in this field, he said.
While the so-called "Pavilion Zero" will be an overture to the Expo leading spirit featuring the themes of memory such as the tools used by med for food, the Biodiversity Park, the Children Park, the Future Food District and the Food in Art pavilion will decline it in its various forms.
An additional nine "clusters," or shared pavilions with thematic areas linked to the nutrition theme, will offer some 80 countries and organizations unprovided with their own space the opportunity to showcase their excellences.
For the cluster project, organizers are working closely with the United Nations that will be a "strategic partner" for the exposition, said Manoj Juneja, Deputy Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The UN, to which the nutrition subject is particular dear, will play a special role in helping countries focus on global challenges, he stressed recalling that estimates say one third of the food produced in the world is thrown away, while millions of children starve every year.
Inherently joint sustainability will be a constant of the site intended to be a prototype of the "smart city" of the future. Around 56 percent of the Expo area will be covered with green, while environmentally friendly materials and renewable energies will reduce consumption.
The International Participants Meeting itself was "carbon free," as the emissions and energy consumption caused by local transport of guests and staff have been offset through a forestry project in a northern park of Milan, organizers said.
"In the current difficult times, building synergies is fundamental, and the Expo will bring to light the economic interests of different countries in a common direction," Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia told Xinhua.
Pisapia said that in his recent meetings with various Chinese delegations he has encountered a strong will to pursue a "shared cultural, social and economic development."
International young generations, which are the future of the world, will also play an active role in the event, with thousands of students directly working at the projects or as volunteers in the site, he added.
The link will be "edutainment," as everyone in the Milan Expo will be able to find a cooperation-oriented item, from those interested in food to technology and architecture lovers, the mayor said.