With a dazzling display of fireworks lighting up the skyline, thousands and thousands of visitors packed Shanghai for the opening of World Expo 2010 on Saturday.
Highlighting the latest in green urban technology from some 191 countries taking part, Expo 2010 is a showcase of China’s booming economy and resurgent national pride.
China is at pains to promote green cities with green technology, and has spent about USD 4.2 billion on the Expo – double the cost of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Expo, with country pavilions on both sides of the Huangpu River, has enabled the city to boost its services, providing the world's longest metro system, two new airport terminals and a USD 700 million promenade on the historic Bund, along with new parks, roads and bridges.
“Better Cities, better life, the theme of this Expo, is our goal at UN-HABITAT. And I am very proud indeed that our agency has taken on the leading role at the magnificent United Nations pavilion in Shanghai,” said UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka.
She opened the pavilion with Mr. Awni Behnam, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Commissioner General for Expo 2010, and other senior Chinese and UN officials who were entertained by a UN staff choir.
In her keynote opening address, Mrs. Tibiaujuka added: “As you visit the wonderful United Nations pavilion, I hope that it will leave you with a sense not only of where we are going in this daunting new world, but also that it will give you a sense of where we can go into a better and smarter urban future where everybody feels they belong in the city.
“I know that here in Shanghai we will also get a fascinating glimpse into how wonderful the future can be if we get it right,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said. “I am delighted that the theme, Better City, Better Life celebrates urban civilization and cities in particular as the greatest achievements of humanity. And, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate you for selecting this important idea.”
She said UN-HABITAT and in the wider UN system fully endorsed the concept of the City of Harmony proposed by the Expo. The theme of the Fourth session of the World Urban Forum co-organized by the Chinese Government and UN-HABITAT in Nanjing in 2008, was precisely on Harmonious Urbanization, a concept inspired by ancient Chinese philosophy which espouses moderation and balance in all things.
Officials said they expected the Expo to draw some 70 million visitors by the time it closes 31 October.