More than 160 years ago, in 1851, the first world exposition ("World's Fair" or EXPO) was held in London. The success of this first World's Fair was the starting point for many successful subsequent World's Fairs.
The legal framework governing EXPOs
Against the backdrop of an increasing number of World's Fairs (resulting in a correspondingly diminishing success rate of each individual Fair), a set of rules had to be established. The 1928 Paris Convention, amended and modified by different protocols, currently governs the organisation of international exhibitions.
The provisions of the 1928 Paris Convention stipulate, inter alia, how to organize international expositions, their duration, and the interval to be observed between two registered exhibitions. The Convention also established the "Bureau International des Expositions" (BIE), with its headquarters in Paris. The International Exhibitions Bureau supervises and ensures the application of the Convention. The members of the BIE are the Governments of the Contracting Parties (signatory countries to the Convention), with Austria being a founding member. At the moment, 170 States are members of the BIE, with accession being open to all countries. Austria's interests within the membership are managed by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs.
What types of EXPOs are there?
The Convention makes a distinction between two types of exhibitions: registered and recognized.
- Registered exhibitions are large, general scope exhibitions, with a duration of no more than six months. The interval between two registered exhibitions must be at least five years.
- Recognized exhibitions must illustrate a definite theme. Their duration is no more than three months, and one recognized exhibtion may be held between two registered exhibitions.
The United Arab Emirates were awared the right to host the World's Fair in Dubai in 2020. Dubai's World's Fair will be held under the theme of "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future". Austria's Council of Ministers has agreed on participation in this EXPO in late August of 2017. The participation will once more be carried out in cooperation with the Austrian Economic Chamber. The majority of the budget - 75 percent of a total of 16.48 million Euros - is provided by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs.
In February of 2018 former Minister of Justice and of Science and Resarch Beatrix Karl was appointed Commissioner General of Section.
In November of 2017, Buenos Aires was awarded the right to host a recognized exhibition with the topic Science, Innovation, Art and Creativity for the Human Development. The EXPO will take place from January 15th to April 15th 2023.
The other candidates were Poland/Lodz and USA/Minnesota.
The next registered EXPO after Dubai will take place in 2025.
In November of 2018 Osaka was awarded the right to host a registered exhibition with the topic Designing Future society for Our Lives. The EXPO will take place from 3rd May to 3rd November 2025.
The other candidates were Russia/Yekaterinburg and Azerbaidjan/Baku.
In total, more than 60 EXPOS have been organized. The most recent EXPOS were held in 2005 in Aichi, Japan; in 2008 in Saragossa, Spain; in 2010 in Shanghai, China; in 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea; in 2015 in Milan, Italy; and in 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Austria at EXPO 2017 Astana
In 2017 a recognized exhibition took place in Astana/Kazakhstan, making it the first World's Fair in Central Asia. The theme "Future Energy" was tailor-made for Austrian companies, who are among the world leaders in the areas of environmental technologies, renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability.
The Austrian pavilion was awarded the prestigious iF Design-Award in the category "Interior Architecture/Exhibition". In October 2018 the Austrian Pavilion was also awarded the internationally renowned Red Dot Award 2018 in the category "Communication Design".
As in the past, Austria's participation was done in cooperation with the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, with three quarters of the total budget of 4.8 Million Euros being provided by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs.
The Austrian exhibit "With Brain, Heart and Human Power" took a playful approach to the topic, making visible the individual's contribution to a more energy-efficient world. The colorful pavilion was lauded as one of only a few that conciously dealt with the topic of the EXPO.
Austria's participation in EXPO 2017 Astana was very successful: 16 percent of total EXPO visitor came to the Austrian exhibit, making it the biggest share of the last 20 years of Austrian EXPO participation. The Austrian pavilion was awarded the prestigious iF Design-Award in the category "Interior Architecture/Exhibition".
Austrian companies were able to not only show their expertise on the "Wall of Austrian Innovation" within the Austrian pavilion, but also elsewhere on the EXPO site: three Austrian companies - evolute, Ertex Solar and Tiroler Rohre - participated in the construction of the are, and four out of 24 award-winning exhibits in the "Energy Best Practice Area" were from Austria (Andritz Solar with two projects, Landwirtschaftliche Fachschule Tulln, Heliovis).
Austria at EXPO 2015 Milan
From May to October 2015, Milan hosted of an EXPO with the topic "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life". Once again Austria participated together with the Federal Economic Chamber, with three quarters of the total budget of 12 Million Euros being provided by the Federal Ministry for Digital, Business and Enterprise.
The Austrian concept "breathe.austria" focused on the most important food product - air. Instead of a traditional pavilion, a dense forest was planted, representing the different vegeatation zones in Austria and highlighting the beauty of the Austrian countryside.
Furthermore, the Pavilion was energy self-sufficient and cooled the interior without air conditioning. This courageous concept was well-received: visitors queued for several hours to gain entrance to the Austrian pavilion, and the pavilion received several awards - among them the coveted BIE-prize as well as an award by the Italian Ministry of Environment for most the sustainable pavilion.