China Pavilion, which is still under construction, has already become a landmark at the Shanghai Expo garden. Gao Erqiang
After its success co-hosting the "Green Olympics" last year with Beijing, China's eastern metropolis Shanghai is taking on another amazing eco-friendly drive.
As the stage for the 2010 World Expo, the city is preparing to impress with its improved environment and 5.28-sq-km expo garden featuring green pavilions.
Under the banner "Better City, Better Life", more than 240 countries and international organizations will come together for six months to explore ways to help cities develop in harmony with nature.
Around 70 million visitors are expected to flock to the event, which opens its door next May, for a chance to get hands on experience with the most advanced technologies incorporated into a wide variety of pavilions and projects designed to highlight environmental issues and sustainable development.
As the latest show of China's growing global influence, the Shanghai Expo arrives hot on the heels of last year's Beijing Games, which has been credited with leaving a lasting environmental legacy and fulfilling many of its pre-Olympics objectives, such as improving air quality.
"The Olympics set a good example for Shanghai," said Zhang Quan, director of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau, "but given its wider influence and longer time frame, we need to take stronger and more practical measures to ensure a successful and environmentally friendly expo."
Zhong Yanqun, deputy director of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai Executive Committee, said the Beijing Olympics' legacy is multi-faceted.
One of its great lessons was the effort to bring about a "green" Games, with more than $17 billion invested by China in environmental projects ahead of the Games.
The plans featured 20 key commitments, ranging from improving Beijing's transport infrastructure to upgrading the waste management system.
In Shanghai, organizers have promised a green theme will tie each pavilion, structure and creative exhibition zone in the expo garden, which is now under construction on both sides of the Huangpu River.
"During construction, energy saving, low consumption and emissions are our priorities," said Zhong. "Advanced technology in environment protection will be adopted and the city's historical buildings will be well protected."
It is estimated the gross capacity of solar power for the expo garden will hit 4.7 billion kilowatts, while about 1,000 vehicles using clean energy will be put into use before May to help achieve the goal of "zero emissions".
Yet the expo is all about the pavilions, where nations will share their wisdom on how to achieve harmony between city and nature.
The Norwegian concept is "Norway: Powered by Nature" and illustrates how the energy and power of nature can affect people, as well as explores the relationship between cities and suburban areas. Visitors will be invited to experience city life, creativity and recreation in a natural environment.
Poland has chosen a simple wood design for its pavilion to push the idea of reclaiming and recycling. It plans to reconstruct the expo base in Poland after November.
Japan, which hosted the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, will have a semi-circular, "breathing" pavilion next year. One of the largest at the Shanghai Expo, it will make efficient use of natural resources with solar energy batteries and a double-layer membrane that can filter sunshine to highlight how technology can improve lives.
It is the host country that is expected to steal the show, however, with its six "Sun Valley" structures along the Expo Boulevard that links the four major venues.
Resembling the open ends of shimmering trumpets, the Sun Valleys - made from steel, film and a special kind of plastic - funnel sunlight into underground levels to save on energy.
Meanwhile, Shanghai will continue investing in improving its environment.
As China's economic hub, the city has launched several three-year action plans since 2002, when it won the bid to host the 2010 World Expo.
In the past nine years, it has invested an average of 3 percent of its gross domestic product annually on environmental projects. The total input has surpassed 225 billion yuan ($33 billion).
The city has, along with the United Nations Environment Program, released a Green Expo Guidebook for visitors and residents, which advises them on how to be more eco-friendly.
Years of effort and investment have boosted confidence that the city can breathe clean air during the expo, although city officials have vowed not to take extreme measures, such as demanding temporary closure of polluting companies in Shanghai and nearby cities to improve air quality for the 2010 World Expo.
Over recent years, Shanghai has recorded level 2 air quality, which, according to the national standard, is just below the quality usually recorded at nature reserves and scenic areas.
It is a goal aspired to by many cities in China.
(China Daily 08/07/2009 page21)