Nature's Wisdom Celebrated at 2005 World Exposition

AICHI, Japan, March 28, 2005 (ENS) - The 2005 World Exposition opened Friday in Aichi Prefecture with the theme of taking inspiration from nature's wisdom to create a new direction for humanity which is sustainable and harmonious with nature. Before it closes on September 25, more than 15 million visitors are expected to view the pavilions and take in the cultural events at this complex in the Nagoya Eastern Hills.

"This is not a theme that we have chosen lightly," say the organizers of the first exposition of the 21st century, the Japan Association for the 2005 World Exposition.

Recognizing that rapid technological development, mass production and mass consumption have brought about desertification, global warming, and a shortage of natural resources, the organizers said, "Only recently have we realized the enormity of our loss."

"Learning from the world's vast collection of wisdom and methods of interaction with nature found around the globe, we hope to bring the world together for the creation of a global society allowing the multitude of cultures and civilizations to coexist together," the organizers said.

Koizumi

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expresses his hope that the 2005 World Expo will generate harmony between humans and nature. (Photo courtesy 2005 World Expo)
The World Expo was officially opened Thursday with a ceremony at the Expo Dome in Nagakute with some 2,400 people in attendance including Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress of Japan, His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince, who is serving as the honorary president of the exposition, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, and government representatives of participating countries.

Prime Minister Koizumi said, "The Exposition of Global Harmony also serves as an opportunity for people from around the world to gather and consider how humankind should interact with nature. Science and technology are the key factors to realize a balance between environmental protection and economic development. I hope that the Exposition of Global Harmony will mark the starting point for us to think about a way for humankind and nature to coexist into the future."

There are two sites for Expo 2005, the Nagakute Area and Seto Area connected by gondolas shuttle buses. An Intelligent Multi-mode Transport System (IMTS) is shuttling visitors across the site in capsules navigated and controlled by magnetic markers imbedded in the middle of their dedicated roads.

capsules

The Expo's 14 IMTS capsules travel about 30 miles per hour. (Artist's rendering courtesy 2005 World Expo)
Three large, low-emission buses are linked electronically without couplers for automatic operation in bus platoons.

Plans for the 2005 World Expo were influenced by efforts to save one of Japan's most endangered bird species, the goshawk. Agreement to revise the original plan to hold the exposition in the Kaisho Forest, a habitat of the rare goshawk, was reached in April 2000 to accommodate the concerns of the International Bureau of Exhibitions about the impact of the event on the environment of the forest.

The exposition is now using a part of the forest, and the Expo sites preserve their natural conditions to the maximum extent possible, the first such attempt in EXPO history, organizers said.

The Japan Association for the 2005 World Exposition has continued to evaluate the environmental impact of vibration and noise caused by construction work, speaker sounds accompanying events during the EXPO term, and lighting radiated into the air at night, to minimize such impact. The number of items in the EXPO related environmental assessment tops 200.

The 2005 World Exposition Commissioner Taizo Watanabe said, "A new international airport full of intriguing facilities to entertain incoming passengers was opened off the coast of the capital of Nagoya city, in February this year, and all the cities and towns in this region are cooperating with all the participating nations as friendship partners to welcome and satisfy the visitors from those countries."

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The official mascots for the 2005 World Expo are Kiccoro, the Forest Child, and Morizo, the Forest Grandfather. (Photo courtesy 2005 World Expo)
With exhibit pavilions from 121 country and four organizations, 38 restaurants and a constant stream of entertainment from experimental theatre, to television, music and sumo wrestling, the 2005 World Expo provides a festive atmosphere from morning till night.

There is also a more thoughtful, serious side to the event. For the first time in World Expo history, there will be a monthly series of message events, symposia in which visitors can participate on the theme of environmental protection and sustainable development.

The first message event opened Sunday with consideration of the mutual relationship among culture, environment and development; and the possibility of balanced development. Participants were Lester Brown of the United States, who is president of the Earth Policy Institute, Donald Johnston of Canada, who is OECD Secretary-General, and Kazuo Ogura of Japan, president of the Japan Foundation.

The message event continues today with a discussion of issues thrown up by 20th century culture and civilization, and the social and scientific trends that could allow solutions, from internationally prominent figures in different areas. Out of this discussion subjects for the forthcoming Expo 2005 International Forums will be drawn.

On April 9, 21st Century EXPO 2005 University will hold its opening event in Expo Hall. Throughout the run of Expo 2005, major figures in various fields will make proposals on the proper relationship between science and humankind. The first session will be led by astronaut Mamoru Mohri of Japan.

Nongovernmental organizations have a unique place at the 2005 World Expo. In the NGO global village, events began on March 17 on the theme Love the Earth.

"Crossing the boundaries between the human and natural worlds, we live together in harmony with all the living creatures of the earth," recited groups taking part in the opening ceremony. "We hope that many people come to realize that they are members of the Global Village, and also hope that we together are able to promote and increase public awareness of the Global Village."

Japanese and overseas groups are using this opportunity to promote the United Nations' Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2015, which was proposed by Japan.

Corporations are taking a prominent place at the 2005 World Expo. The U.S. Pavilion, on the theme of Benjamin Franklin's 300th anniversary, will be the first in history entirely financed by the private sector. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and individual companies are making a significant financial contribution to the U.S. Pavilion and will be hosting business delegations to the fair.

The Mitsubishi Group is making an effort to offset the carbon footprint of its environmental education exhibit, Mitsubishi Pavilion@Earth, by providing financial support to help protect rain forests in northeastern Madagascar, the island country off the coast of Southern Africa.

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The complex combination of films, mirrors and sound effects will create a visual special effects environment at the Mitsubishi Pavilion. (Photo courtesy Mitsubishi)
This initiative will offset Mitsubishi’s carbon impacts by preventing the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere through the protection of a portion of Makira’s threatened forests, which naturally store carbon, and by supporting sustainable activities of local communities in the region.

“The Expo is very meaningful, however, it is inevitable that big events like these produce additional greenhouse gas emissions," said Naoyoshi Yamakawa, director general of Mitsubishi Pavilion@Earth. "Offsetting the additional greenhouse gas emissions in another part of the planet is environmentally responsible. I truly hope that carbon offsets like these become customary. The project in Madagascar contributes not only to the protection of the rain forest, but also to the sustainable development of the local community."

The carbon offset financing deal was developed through a unique partnership between Natsource Japan Co. Ltd., representing Mitsubishi, and Conservation International, acting on behalf of the government of Madagascar.

The investment will help fund the Makira Forest Project which is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), based at the Bronx Zoo in New York City. This initiative was developed by WCS in partnership with the government of Madagascar and Conservation International to reduce the deforestation rate of Makira, prevent species extinctions, work with local communities to develop sustainable activities that provide alternative approaches to slash and burn agriculture, and demonstrate a viable market for some of the forest’s ecosystem services.

"We must think creatively when it comes to balancing the needs of our people and preventing the plants and animals of our country from going extinct. Organizations like the Wildlife Conservation Society and Conservation International make it possible to demonstrate to the world just how valuable Makira's forests are." said Madame Andriantsilavo, secretaire general of Madagascar’s Ministry of the Environment, Waters and Forests.

Expo site

The Global Loop at the 2005 World Expo site (Photo courtesy 2005 World Expo)
One creative environmental endeavor at the 2005 World Expo is the huge greening wall in Expo Plaza nick-named “Bio-lung,” to show the pulmonary function of plants in an urban environment. Wall greening is expected to curb global warming and the heat island phenomenon that raises urban temperatures.

Tough as it is to expand green space in a skyscraper city such as Tokyo, still, in April 2001, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government enforced the regulation obliging constructors of buildings whose areas exceeded the specified limit to equip their building with rooftop or other greening facilities. From the landscaping point of view, wall greening is much more effective than rooftop greening.

At both ends of the central large screen, roses and other flowers are planted in pockets of the canvas made from kenaf and coated with photocatalyst. Other presentations of state-of-the-art greening technologies include sedum vegetation mats pasted over foam resin materials, vines planted over vegetation boards made of peat moss, and wild flowers planted on bog moss.

Bio-lung is sprayed with mist of active water generated by ceramics. This spraying has the effect of cooling the temperature in the area. Bio-lung is designed to absorb carbon dioxide and supply oxygen, in addition to the cooling effect in the summer months - a model for future environmental equipment that will improve the urban environment and reduce environmental impact.

Visit the 2005 World Expo online at: http://www-2.expo2005.or.jp/en/index.html