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Expo 2020 Dubai spotlights five grassroots innovations to tackle COVID-19 challenges

April 22, 2021
finance & economy

DUBAI, 21st April, 2021 (WAM) -- A wearable device that warns when social distancing is not being respected and a Jordanian programme helping vulnerable communities grow online businesses during lockdown are among five new projects selected from a call for COVID-19-related proposals from Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme.

The hand-picked initiatives join 45 existing best practice projects, whose simple, effective and locally based solutions solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, including those laid out in the Sustainable Development Agenda – 17 global targets designed to achieve peace and prosperity for people and the planet, according to a press release on Wednesday.

The latest additions come as the United Nations marks World Creativity and Innovation Day on 21st April, celebrating human ingenuity and the creative economy, and their essential role in helping communities throughout the pandemic.

Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai and Chair of the UAE National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, said, 'The impact of major global challenges has made it very clear that, to build a better future, we must work together as a global community. Our expanded Global Best Practice Programme exemplifies Expo’s purpose to bring the world together – aligned with our theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ – to drive positive change and support projects from across the world that communities need now.

'These projects are providing tangible, life-changing solutions to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, and we are proud to showcase them at Expo 2020 Dubai – a one-of-a-kind global platform and an impactful incubator for new ideas,' she said.

New projects include SafeDistance, a wearable device from Belgium firm Lopos that uses alarms, lights and vibrations to warn when social distancing is not being respected, and UAE-based Project Maji, which has devised the Maji Bucket – a safe, low-tech and low-cost invention, produced by people of determination in Ghana, to ensure safe handwashing practices in rural communities.

Another project, SitatByoot, works directly with vulnerable communities in Jordan, primarily women working from home during lockdowns. During the pandemic, it developed a vocational training programme to create certified ‘makers’, producing garments and hand-made goods for sale through SitatByoot’s sister e-commerce platform, Makesy. To date, Makesy has a certified network of 500-plus ‘makers’ fulfilling orders from home – helping them enter the labour market, grow their businesses online and provide more income for their families.

Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, Secretary General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), said, 'World Expos excel as platforms for showcasing and sharing inspiring projects that bring real improvements to lives around the world. The BIE enthusiastically endorses this timely COVID-19 edition of Expo 2020 Dubai's Global Best Practice Programme, which gathers a series of innovative, inclusive and truly transformative solutions to the new challenges raised by the pandemic. By exchanging impactful solutions for people and the planet, we can address and overcome these challenges together.'

During the call for COVID-19 proposals, which began in September 2020, Expo received applications from 318 projects, in 78 different countries, across five focus areas: Digitalisation; Education and Skills Development; Health and Wellbeing; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and Protecting Livelihoods.

They were assessed by a jury, comprising Cisco, the Official Digital Network Partner of Expo 2020; UAE-based global philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares; and UN Habitat, the UN programme for human settlements and sustainable urban development. Top submissions were then reviewed and signed off by the BIE and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).

Launched in 2018 under the theme ‘Small Steps, Big Leaps: Simple Solutions for Sustainable Impact’, the Global Best Practice Programme honours a 2010 BIE mandate for all World Expos to spotlight solutions that can be replicated, adapted and scaled for greater global impact – highlighting World Expos as powerful platforms for inspiring change and driving human progress.

From 1st October 2021 to 31st March 2022, Expo 2020 Dubai will invite visitors from every corner of the globe to join the making of a new world, as they discover life-changing innovations that will have a meaningful, positive impact on people and planet.

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