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Dubai’s Expo City to open ‘urban farm’ at Cop28

Al Wasl Plaza is one of the Expo 2020 landmarks that will be retained Pexels/Daniel Ponomarev
Al Wasl Plaza is one of the Expo 2020 landmarks that will be retained for Cop28 and beyond
  • Decarbonisation plans being tested at Cop28
  • Model farm, food waste programme on site
  • Expo City aims to cut embodied carbon by 80%

Expo City Dubai plans to open an urban farm at Cop28, demonstrating agricultural technologies being adopted in the UAE. 

The farm – more details of which will be unveiled in the coming weeks – is one of several decarbonisation initiatives planned for the climate change summit and beyond, Matt Brown, Expo City’s sustainability chief, told AGBI

A tie-up with the UAE’s National Food Loss and Waste Initiative (Ne’ma) is also planned, under which the 60-plus food and beverage outlets opening for Cop28 will participate in a food waste reduction programme. 

Expo City, the Dubai government company working on Expo 2020 legacy, is in talks with businesses keen to pioneer other decarbonisation initiatives during the conference. Announcements are expected soon, Brown added. 

The company is developing the 1,000-acre site that hosted Expo 2020 last year and is due to host Cop28, into a new mixed-use community.  

Expo City will have 45,000 sq m of parks and gardens, along with running tracks and playgroundsExpo City Dubai
Expo City will have 45,000 sq m of parks and gardens, along with running tracks and playgrounds

The largest real estate project in Dubai’s 2040 urban masterplan, Expo City is intended as a “blueprint for sustainable urban living”, according to Brown. 

It aims to build more than 1,000 homes – construction has just started on the first units – as well as leisure facilities, offices, restaurants, cycling and running tracks, children’s playgrounds and 45,000 sq m of parks and gardens.

Around 80 percent of the infrastructure built for Expo 2020 is to be retained, including the Terra Pavilion (the Sustainability Pavilion) and Al Wasl Plaza, several hospitality venues and 135,000 sq m of office space. 

Expo City published a decarbonisation roadmap this month. It sets out a strategy for reducing operational carbon from the development by 45 percent by 2030, compared to if no such measures were in place, and 80 percent by 2040, ahead of reaching net zero by 2050.

The city plans to adopt 15-minute planning principles that encourage walking and cycling, energy and water efficiency measures, renewables, carbon capture technologies and emissions offsetting, the roadmap said.

The idea is that sustainability measures rolled out during Cop28 will stay in place long after it finishes, Brown said.

“Anything that helps us reduce emissions and has other positive impacts, we want to continue and improve,” he said.

“We have some interesting climatic challenges that are bespoke to us in this part of the world, and have to take these into account. However, we also need to make sure we are bringing forward this development in a socially and financially sustainable way.

“There’s no point having some really good-for-the-environment places if we’ve got a bunch of unhappy people walking around.”

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