How can we sustainably grow food to meet future demand? Expo 2020 spotlights solutions to food, nutrition and farming challenges

  • Expo Talks: Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods is latest in series exploring key issues
  • Urban agriculture, aquaculture and smart cities among key innovations discussed
  • Experts examined need for collaboration to build a sustainable global food system

Dubai: Feeding a growing global population while minimising our environmental impact was the focus of Expo 2020 Dubai’s latest virtual thematic programme, Expo Talks: Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods, held on 23 February in association with PepsiCo, Expo’s Official Beverage and Snack Partner.

The talks brought together leading policymakers and food and nutrition security experts from around the globe to explore the urgent need for efficient, inclusive and resilient food systems in a world where, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), more than 690 million people go to bed hungry, and where the fallout from COVID-19 has doubled the number of people experiencing acute food insecurity to more than 270 million.

Expo Talks: Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods, available on demand, featured a series of panel discussions, including from Expo’s International Participants, on how to build a sustainable global food system, and examined innovations and new technologies that will enable us to serve a world that, by 2050, is predicted to be inhabited by more than nine billion people.

It also provided a glimpse of how Expo 2020 is already realising its commitment to sustainable food systems through the landscaping, architecture and the gastronomy on site.

Opening the event, Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Today, food security stands as a hallowed and unassailable tenet of true human dignity. The capacity of all nations was tested in the early weeks and months of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed the vulnerability of our global food value chain. Yet in the wake of that harsh examination, we are now presented with an opportunity to reimagine that chain and learn to make choices and implement systems that are much more sustainable”.

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of State for Food and Water Security, said: “Expo 2020 takes place against the backdrop of a pandemic that has shaken the world and interrupted its food systems to an unprecedented degree, threatening millions with hunger and malnutrition. The situation has given the forthcoming Expo with its theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future a new significance – one that will see it as a vital forum for the world’s governments to engineer the transformation of global food systems.” 

“Fortunately agricultural technology – AgTech – is one area that is giving us hope as it enables the production of food with minimal resources and reduced environmental impact. The UAE has taken a lead in this sector borne out of the necessity of improving its self-sufficiency to a certain degree because of the challenges it faces with crop growing at scale. The adoption of AgTech is enshrined in our National Food Security strategy, which has a target for the UAE to be a world-leading hub in innovation-driven food security by 2051. 

“We will be showcasing our latest developments in food security in our UAE pavilion at Expo 2020. More importantly, we will be standing ready to share what we have learned with other countries during the six-month run of one of the biggest global community events ever staged.”

Eugene Willemsen, Chief Executive Officer – PepsiCo Africa, Middle East, South Asia, said: “At PepsiCo, we believe there is an opportunity to change how the world produces, distributes, consumes and disposes of foods and beverages, to tackle the shared challenges we face. PepsiCo is in a unique position to use our scale for good, and we are targeting every stage of our complex value chain to use resources more efficiently, reduce emissions, replenish water, improve our products, and recapture packaging materials.”

The programme included From Farm to Fork: Building Resilient Food Systems, co-convened by the European Union and WFP, and featuring HE Mariam Almheiri; Janusz Wojciechowski, EU Commissioner for Agriculture; Amir Mahmoud Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director, WFP; and Aamer Sheikh, President and General Manager – PepsiCo Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

The session explored some of the innovative practices and technologies needed to transform the way the world produces, moves, consumes and disposes of food, and highlighted the importance of collaboration. Mr Wojciechowski praised the EU’s Farm to fork strategy as a first step towards sustainable food systems, but noted that climate change and biodiversity are global challenges that require global solutions. 

Calling for a global commitment and urgent, bold action, Mr Abdulla stressed that building strong, reliable, resilient food systems was critical in the world’s journey to achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals.

Also in the spotlight were localised solutions to food, nutrition and farming challenges, through sustainable agricultural practices, as well as new innovations that maximise productivity in rural and urban settings. The focus additionally fell on ways in which Expo 2020 is already supporting a number of food, agriculture and nutrition-related projects across the world through its global innovation and partnership programme, Expo Live.

These include a Thai social enterprise that helps farmers grow Jasberry rice, a sustainable and scalable market-driven solution to poverty among farmers that allows them to generate 14 times more income than before; and the Abu Dhabi-based International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture, a nonprofit research centre established in 1999 to address poor water quality and water scarcity issues. Expo Live funding is supporting the development of modular farms for desert and arid environments across the UAE.

Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods is the eighth in a series of 10 thematic talks – launched in October 2020 with Space – bringing together influential policymakers, thought-leaders, Expo participants and the public to help shape the thought-provoking content and conversations taking place during Expo 2020.

Running from 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 Dubai will seek collaborative solutions to the world’s most pressing issues – including weeks dedicated to the Global Goals, Climate and Biodiversity, Knowledge and Learning, and Water – to help shape a better, more sustainable future for all.

About Expo 2020 Dubai:

From 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 Dubai will bring the world together in a spirit of hope and optimism and with a shared purpose towards solving some of our greatest challenges.

  • It will showcase the greatest innovations, breakthroughs and ideas from around the planet, enabling action towards a better world under its theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ 
  • Expo 2020 will be an endless journey of discovery as more than 200 participants – including nations, multilateral organisations, businesses, and educational institutions, as well as millions of visitors – harness their collective power to change the world for the better
  • Expo 2020’s sub-themes of OpportunityMobility and Sustainability will inspire visitors to make a conscious effort to think and live differently
  • An entertaining global celebration with something for everyone, Expo 2020 will wow visitors with daily events, showcasing the best of technology, creativity and culture, while F&B outlets will feature cuisine from around the world
  • The first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), located on a 4.38 sqkm site adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai South 
  • Built with a long-term legacy in mind, the Expo site is an example of innovation in action and will transform into District 2020, a blueprint for human-centric, smart and sustainable cities of the future, after Expo 2020 closes its doors

How to cover Expo 2020 Dubai in person at event time or report on the event remotely

To attend Expo 2020 or cover Expo 2020 remotely using content and assets generated by Expo, you must be accredited. 

To kick off your journey with Expo 2020, please ensure that you:

1. Register to access our Media Information System, Tawassul at

Tawassul is regularly updated, providing the latest content assets, including press releases, photographs, audio and video, the electronic media kit, and information on broadcast and photography operations. It also provides you with important information and updates on facilities and services such as media accreditation, visa information for international accredited media, and permits. Access to other media-related systems (Media Asset Management System and Media Bookings System), which will be launched in Q2 2021, will only be permitted to accredited media (see below). Information about these systems can be found on Tawassul.

2. Once registered, submit an Expo 2020 Media Accreditation expression of interest. 

Within this expression of interest, please appoint an Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO) from within your organisation who will act as the single point of contact with Expo 2020 for media accreditation. Following this, approved media organisations will be provided login details and instructions for the accreditation system to enable them to submit applications.

About World Expos:

In 1851 the Crystal Palace was the centrepiece of London’s Great Exhibition – the first World Expo. It celebrated the man-made industrial wonders of a rapidly changing world. Architecture, contents and a theme, ‘Industry of All Nations’, were combined to create a big idea of nations meeting nations in shared technological and commercial progress. In more recent years, participants in World Expos, including governments, international organisations and companies, have gathered to find solutions to universal challenges and to promote their achievements, products, ideas, innovations, their national brand, and their nations as destinations for tourism, trade and investment. 

World Expos are held under the auspices of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the intergovernmental organisation responsible for overseeing and regulating international exhibitions (‘Expos’) and for fostering their core values of Education, Innovation and Cooperation. Today, four types of Expos are organised under the BIE’s auspices: World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.