Better city, better life

Expo 2010 Shanghai China, which launched on May 1, aims to be a grand international gathering with an emphasis on innovation and interaction, though there are downsides to these expositions.

“[It can be hard to] look past the national branding that goes on in these fairs to get at the substantive content,” said Alex Latta, assistant professor of global studies at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Latta believes that the expo’s theme of “Better City, Better Life” can also be read as “China’s announcement that the 21st century is urban and also a Chinese century.”

Over 250 organizations and countries are displaying exhibits, and the expo is considered to be a great source for future policy making among the international community.

Canada’s pavilion – “the living city” – features Cirque de Soleil on its main stage, and aims to introduce themes of diversity and inclusion while emphasizing the Canadian city and how it plans to grow for the future.

While world expositions are viewed by many as monumental events for economic, scientific, technological and cultural exchanges, the impact the expo will have on international views on sustainability and the prevention of resource depletion is questionable.

“If anything, this kind of event further entrenches the problematic belief that cities should be defined by their ‘attractive capital,’ rather than by their social and environmental policies,” said Latta.

Expo 2010 concludes on Oct. 31 and the bi-annual expo will be hosted by Yeosu, Republic of Korea in 2012.