What is an Expo?

Expos are global events dedicated to finding solutions to fundamental challenges facing humanity by offering a journey inside a chosen theme through engaging and immersive activities. Organised and facilitated by governments and bringing together countries and international organisations (Official Participants), these major public events are unrivalled in their ability to gather millions of visitors, create new dynamics and catalyse change in their host cities.

Four types of Expo are organised under the auspices of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE): World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos, and the Triennale di Milano.

Expos, a platform for international dialogue in favour of progress and cooperation

Expos bring the world together in a grand and common project to find solutions to a fundamental challenge facing humanity. This challenge is addressed via the Expo’s theme, which acts as a springboard for what participants will showcase and what intellectual and cultural events will be organised. In the spirit of education and communication, shared concern based on the Expo’s theme encourages international participants to exchange ideas and best practices, to come up with solutions and to develop new forms of cooperation in a non-confrontational setting. The intellectual legacy of Expos, which often comes in the form of a policy document or manifesto, is a result of the dialogue, action and innovation presented and exchanged during the event, demonstrating the role of Expos in public diplomacy.

Expos, an immersive and engaging journey into a key theme

Combining a wide variety of visual and sensual experiences, Expos are an ephemeral microcosm that offer memorable experiences to participants and visitors alike. The innovative architecture of the Expo site, the interactive exhibits within international pavilions, the ground-breaking technology and the packed cultural programme all make Expos a convivial and engaging experience for visitors. With education as their goal, Expos spark active citizenship and shape new behaviours, increasing awareness of the challenges faced by humanity throughout the world. Offering a snapshot of the world at a given time, Expos advance and encourage the meeting of new cultures, fostering the public’s understanding of interconnections.

Expos, a unique platform for public diplomacy and nation branding

By gathering countries from across the world, Expos offer a rare opportunity to promote multilateral public diplomacy and foster improved understanding in global relationships. In their pavilions, countries display and showcase technological innovations and national cultures, engaging with civil society to craft a positive and distinctive national identity. Expos have a transformative power in shaping perceptions of nations and cultures, increasing awareness of the host country and international participants by helping to shape and enhance a nation’s image and reputation.

Expos, a catalyst for change

The economic and cultural development that stem from hosting an Expo is an impetus for lasting urban transformation on the Expo site and beyond. Expo projects are a key part of urban development plans, acting as a catalyst to accelerate the transformation of cities and having a long-term impact on society in both tangible (architecture, urban planning) and intangible ways (culture, education). For citizens, Expos have the capacity to unleash dreams, desires and inspiration, boosting mobility and elevating self-awareness.

Expos, a window of and to the world

Participating in an Expo allows countries to create a fleeting miniature world, a microcosm of global progress and dialogue. Expos provide a unique and international stage to engage in cultural diplomacy and interact with the host country, other participants, potential tourists, trade partners and investors. Through pavilions or dedicated spaces, each country projects itself to large, captive and diverse audiences, creating a global village that offers an unprecedented experience to visitors and participants alike.