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Introduction by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney T.D.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney

When World Fairs came into existence in the mid-19th century, their main purpose was to showcase new inventions and great technological wonders. Today, the governing body for World Expos, The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), states that Expos ‘address global challenges through the lens of sustainability’. This more philosophical approach to World Expos has created opportunities for smaller countries to present a global vision. This is the opportunity that Ireland will grasp over the next six months.

Expo 2020  will see the participation of almost all of the member-states of the United Nations, making it one of the first global, post-pandemic international gatherings. It is also an important opportunity for Ireland in terms of both our core economic interests and our voice in a rapidly changing world. EXPO allows us to showcase Ireland to a global audience. We will raise awareness of Ireland’s attractiveness as a place in which to live, study and work, a destination to visit, and a great country in which, and with which, to do business.

Expo participation is an important expression of the Global Ireland initiative - the Government’s strategy for doubling the scope and impact of Ireland’s global footprint. The Global Ireland programme enables us to be more ambitious in advancing our strategic international objectives, promoting our values, and exerting influence.

Expo is also an important opportunity for Ireland at the United Nations. Ireland played a central role in the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (DGs). Goal no.17 — Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development is, in effect, about creating a partnership framework for delivering all of the other Goals. Our approach to Expo - collaborative, and based on personal interaction and engagement — is a practical manifestation of Ireland’s commitment to delivering that partnership for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Three strategic decisions shaped our participation in Expo Dubai. First, we opted for an ‘All-of-Government’, Team Ireland, approach: The Department of Foreign Affairs is working across Government, State Agencies, business, arts and culture, academia and the creative industries to ensure a high-impact presence at Expo. Second, we decided that our programme should be built around high-quality personal interaction and engagement in our pavilion and across the wider Expo site. And third, we decided to build our programme around a theme that speaks of our history and culture, but also addresses an important issue for mankind. 

The overall theme of Expo Dubai 2020 is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future. Our theme – putting creativity at the centre of human experience in the 21st century – is intended to amplify a particular aspect of Creating the Future. Through the Future Jobs strategy, the Government has been addressing the challenging issue of technology displacing substantial quantities of today’s skilled work.

Knowledge and specialist expertise will continue to be important in what is already being called The Fourth Industrial Age. But more important will be the ability to apply knowledge and expertise in previously unimagined ways: to be creative and inventive, to solve problems, to work collaboratively and experimentally, to think conceptually and imaginatively. That is the fundamental premise of Creative Ireland, an all-of- Government programme.

It is a proposition that has far-reaching implications across multiple policy areas from education to health to rural and urban development, and much else. That is why we decided that our theme would be Putting Creativity at the heart of human experience in the 21st Century. Expo 2020 Dubai is a hugely ambitious project for Ireland but one which we are very confident will deliver benefits for our country and, we hope, for the world.

Simon Coveney, T.D.

Minister for Foreign Affairs