Expo Zaragoza 2008: The Biggest Water Festival Opened its Doors in Spain

Last year we announced EXPO ZARAGOZA when Lloyd wrote about the Digital Water Pavilion. Now it's time to visit Zaragoza in Spain, where the international Water and Sustainable Development show opened its doors this month. With 5,000 shows, 2,000 experts and 140 pavilions it claims to be the biggest water festival on earth. The Expo had quite a difficult and ironic debut when during the days before the official opening, unpredicted massive rainfalls almost ruined the site due to flooding of the river Ebro. Luckily the Expo organisers could avoid most of the damage and EXPO ZARAGOZA opened its doors on June 14th and will stay open until September 14th. To reduce the overall impact of the Expo itself, biodegradable dishes and cups, wooden cutlery and bags made from potato starch have been chosen to reduce the amount of waste produced at such an event.

Promotional material and gifts have also been eco-designed. The typical Spanish hand fans for example are made from unbleached, recycled-paper and printed with ecological ink. The special Expo pens are made from recycled CDs or used car parts. Organic materials, such as untreated wood or even seaweed have been turned into pencils and pens.

The coffee and sugar used in the coffee shops come from certified fair trade sources. For the Expo organisers, this is much more than a gesture of solidarity with producers. Fair trade as well as organic production are both important principles when it comes to commodities like sugar and, more particularly, "coffee, which is the raw material that moves the greatest amount of foreign exchange in the world after crude oil", according to the EXPO ZARAGOZA.

A massive event like this, held during the hottest months of the year requires a lot of energy. EXPO ZARAGOZA is powered by electricity generation systems that run on renewable energy resources, both solar and wind.

The most visible solution to get away from the use of fossil fuel are the hydrogen engines used for different forms of transport at the show ground, and are supposed to encourage and educate visitors about fossil fuel free ways of transport. The Government of Aragon has already been inspired and is now working on a plan to progressively implement hydrogen-powered public transport.

Last but not least, sustainability has also been introduced into the building works of the fair ground. Recycled and locally sourced materials are some of the principle the Expo worked with. Both the Citizens' Initiatives Pavilion and the Spanish Pavilion are two examples of sustainable architecture.

Stay tuned for more news from the EXPO ZARAGOZA, such as the Water Tribune, which stimulates reflection, debate and a search for solutions in relation to water and sustainability, the Water Tower, which houses the 'Water for Life' exhibition and what happens to the space after the expo. Check their web site for daily activities. ::EXPO ZARAGOZA

Tags: Exhibits | Spain