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Switzerland Brings its Own Energy to Expo 2017
Offering its own interpretation of the theme “Future Energy”, the Swiss Pavilion made the best of the Expo experience. In turn exhibition venue and scientific lab, the Swiss Pavilion assumed many roles between June and September. The most important of which was as the creator of a powerful link between Switzerland and Kazakhstan.
The Swiss Pavilion “Flower Power” offered a thematic and artistic installation with its own interpretation of the theme “Future Energy”. Putting forward the potential of nature as a source of renewable energy and as a factor of change towards a green future, the Swiss Pavilion also emphasized on the role every citizen has to play in the energy transition. Building scientific, economic and political links between Switzerland and Kazakhstan, the Swiss Pavilion has played the role of bridge builder between the two countries in the course of the international fair. The Swiss team also contributed to foster friendship within the international Expo community by organising events like a talent show and a parade.
Cooking sustainable roesti and optimising energy with Heidi The Swiss Pavilion’s staff, counting 50 members – 32 of which are Kazakh – welcomed about 10% of the total of Expo visitors between the 10th of June and today. Of the various attractions of the Pavilion, Expo visitors – whose main reason to enter was their wish to learn more about Switzerland – preferred the House of Potatoes, where more than 61’380 sustainable Roesti portions (one of Switzerland’s potatobased national dishes, somewhat resembling hash browns) were prepared in an energy-efficient way during the fair. A favourite with the younger visitors was the video game “Mission Possible”, in which the player can identify as the iconic character Heidi or her grandfather. With more than 30’184 games of “Mission Possible” played until the end of August, the game taught visitors how to reduce their CO2 footprint by optimising energy consumption. “We are satisfied by the Expo outcome” says Swiss Pavilion Commissioner Manuel Salchli. “We were impressed by the enthusiasm of the Kazakh visitors. They were eager to learn more about how we use sustainable energy sources in Switzerland and what Swiss citizens do daily to live in a more eco-friendly manner.”
Scientific exchange and bilateral cooperation One of the main roles of the Swiss Pavilion during Expo has been to create durable links between Switzerland and Kazakhstan. With more than 25 years of research and innovation in the field of clean technologies, Switzerland had a meaningful contribution to make to the theme “Future Energy”. “Kazakhstan is a country that is modernising and changing fast” analyses Swiss Ambassador to Kazakhstan Urs Schmid. “Now is a very good time to foster and strengthen our bilateral partnership. Switzerland is happy to share its experience in the field of renewable energies with people, institutions and companies in Kazakhstan interested in developing and applying green technologies.”
The swissnex Lab, the academic wing of the Swiss Pavilion, was dedicated to thematic immersion and networking, in order to facilitate bilateral cooperation and academic exchange between Switzerland and Kazakhstan. Several workshops and seminars by higher education institutions, university spin-offs, startups and innovative industry partners were conducted in the Lab or at Nazarbayev University presenting projects from solar planes to sustainable urban planning to glaciology. But the Swissnex Lab also allowed the broad public to conduct experiments and slip into the shoes of an energy scientist thanks to varied workshops and interactive activities. During the whole Expo, 50 glass solar cells and 1’000 solar-powered lamps made of upcycled plastic bottles were built in the swissnex Lab, the scientific wing of the Pavilion.
Swiss president visited Expo on Swiss National Day The pace of the Swiss Pavilion’s life at Expo 2017 was set by major official visits from the Swiss president and two Swiss Ministers, which acknowledges the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations of the two states and showcases the fruitful economic relations. Kazakhstan is also Switzerland’s most important trading partner in Central Asia. The first Minister, who stepped into the Pavilion, was Mr. Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs. During his visit in Kazakhstan on the 19th of June, he launched the Blue Peace Initiative Central Asia, a joint project with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for transboundary water management in Central Asia. At the same time, the first Central Asian Youth meeting on water was hosted in the swissnex Lab. About twenty young Central Asian Water Champions collaborated to write a proposal for peaceful and fruitful water management, which they presented to Mr. Burkhalter during his visit.
On the 11th of July, , Mr. Ueli Maurer, Head of the Department of Finance visited the 2017 Astana exhibition as part of his tour through Central Asia .on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Switzerland’s membership in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The two countries work together closely within the Bretton Woods institutions. Since September 2010, Kazakhstan has been a member of the Swiss voting constituency in these institutions.
During the Swiss National Day, the Swiss President Mrs. Doris Leuthard spent a whole day at Expo, launching the festivities and meeting with Kazakh officials and media. She later met with her Kazakh counterpart, President Nursultan Nazerbayev in his residence. The Head of the Kazakh State noted the existing cooperation between the two countries and expressed hope for an intensification of bilateral economic and political relations.
In short, the Swiss Pavilion can be said to have fulfilled its goals: it welcomed 10% of the Expo visitors and positively impacted the visitors’ vision of Switzerland. Indeed, after their visit, 86% of them acknowledged that they now see Switzerland as an innovative and energy efficient country. The Swiss Pavilion also won the second place in EXHIBITOR Magazine competition, in the “Best Presentation” category. Moreover, scientific collaboration was initiated, Memorandums of cooperation were signed and a water management initiative was launched. Following the Expo 2017, ties between Kazakhstan and Switzerland can only strengthen and bear fruits in the future.
For more information go to www.swisspavilion.org/en.
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