A wearable device that warns when social distancing is not being respected and a Jordanian programme helping vulnerable communities grow online businesses during lockdown are among five new projects selected from a call for COVID-19-related proposals from Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme.
The hand-picked initiatives join 45 existing best practice projects, whose simple, effective and locally based solutions solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, including those laid out in the Sustainable Development Agenda – 17 global targets designed to achieve peace and prosperity for people and the planet.
The latest additions come as the United Nations marks World Creativity and Innovation Day on 21 April, celebrating human ingenuity and the creative economy, and their essential role in helping communities throughout the pandemic.
Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai and Chair of the UAE National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, said: “The impact of major global challenges has made it very clear that, to build a better future, we must work together as a global community. Our expanded Global Best Practice Programme exemplifies Expo’s purpose to bring the world together – aligned with our theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ – to drive positive change and support projects from across the world that communities need now.
“These projects are providing tangible, life-changing solutions to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, and we are proud to showcase them at Expo 2020 Dubai – a one-of-a-kind global platform and an impactful incubator for new ideas.”
New projects include SafeDistance, a wearable device from Belgium firm Lopos that uses alarms, lights and vibrations to warn when social distancing is not being respected, and UAE-based Project Maji, which has devised the Maji Bucket – a safe, low-tech and low-cost invention, produced by people of determination in Ghana, to ensure safe handwashing practices in rural communities.
Another project, SitatByoot, works directly with vulnerable communities in Jordan, primarily women working from home during lockdowns. During the pandemic, it developed a vocational training programme to create certified ‘makers’, producing garments and hand-made goods for sale through SitatByoot’s sister e-commerce platform, Makesy. To date, Makesy has a certified network of 500-plus ‘makers’ fulfilling orders from home – helping them enter the labour market, grow their businesses online and provide more income for their families.
Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, Secretary General of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), said: “World Expos excel as platforms for showcasing and sharing inspiring projects that bring real improvements to lives around the world. The BIE enthusiastically endorses this timely COVID-19 edition of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme, which gathers a series of innovative, inclusive and truly transformative solutions to the new challenges raised by the pandemic. By exchanging impactful solutions for people and the planet, we can address and overcome these challenges together.”
During the call for COVID-19 proposals, which began in September 2020, Expo received applications from 318 projects, in 78 different countries, across five focus areas: Digitalisation; Education and Skills Development; Health and Wellbeing; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and Protecting Livelihoods.
They were assessed by a jury, comprising Cisco, the Official Digital Network Partner of Expo 2020; UAE-based global philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares; and UN Habitat, the UN programme for human settlements and sustainable urban development. Top submissions were then reviewed and signed off by the BIE and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).
Launched in 2018 under the theme ‘Small Steps, Big Leaps: Simple Solutions for Sustainable Impact’, the Global Best Practice Programme honours a 2010 BIE mandate for all World Expos to spotlight solutions that can be replicated, adapted and scaled for greater global impact – highlighting World Expos as powerful platforms for inspiring change and driving human progress.
From 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 Dubai will invite visitors from every corner of the globe to join the making of a new world, as they discover life-changing innovations that will have a meaningful, positive impact on people and planet.
Five pandemic-related projects added to Expo’s Global Best Practice Programme
What do a low-tech invention for safe handwashing in rural Ghana, a social-distancing wearable made in Belgium and a programme helping Jordan’s vulnerable communities grow their online businesses all have in common?
They are among the five new projects joining Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme, following a call for short- and long-term solutions to the challenges brought on by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The quintet of additions – which also includes delivering essential healthcare using offline mobile-phone apps across remote communities and interactive videos to help keep kids active and happy at home – takes the number of best practice solutions to 50. All are simple, effective and locally based innovations that address some of the world’s biggest challenges, including those laid out in the Sustainable Development Agenda – 17 global targets designed to achieve peace and prosperity for people and the planet.
Launched in September 2020, Expo’s call for COVID-related proposals received applications from 318 projects, in 78 different countries, across five focus areas: Digitalisation; Education and Skills Development; Health and Wellbeing; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and Protecting Livelihoods.
The additional projects were announced on 21 April to coincide with World Creativity and Innovation Day – celebrating human ingenuity and the creative economy, and their essential role in helping communities throughout the pandemic.
- SafeDistance, Lopos, Belgium: SafeDistance is a small, light, portable device that measures distance to other SafeDistance sensors in real time to ensure sufficient spacing between people. This wearable device immediately warns wearers when social distancing is not being respected through an alarm, flashing lights and vibrations. The device can also assist with track and trace for COVID-19 infections.
- ‘Mi Casa, Mi Cancha’, Fútbol Más, Chile: Video series ‘Mi Casa, Mi Cancha’ (My Home, My Playground) seeks to promote education and physical activity for children and adolescents, ages six to 14, whose access to space is reduced. The series generates active routines, raising awareness while improving mental and physical health at home without the need for sports equipment.
- reach52, reach52, Singapore: Delivering healthcare for rural populations using offline-first mobile apps and low-tech platforms, reach52 responded to COVID-19 by training frontline community health workers through a mobile-phone eLearning platform – addressing misinformation and enabling communities to accurately check their symptoms. It has services in more than 1,000 communities in rural India, the Philippines and Cambodia.
- SitatByoot and Makesy, SitatByoot, Jordan: In response to COVID-19, SitatByoot developed a new vocational training programme, focused on sewing, crocheting, embroidery and home-based business skills, for vulnerable communities in Jordan. As users progress in the training, they gain skills to accelerate their online home-based business, have opportunities to be employed by local garment factories and become certified ‘Makers’ through SitatByoot’s sister ecommerce platform and app, Makesy.
- Maji Bucket, Project Maji, UAE (Ghana): Running a handwashing and soap distribution campaign in rural Ghana, Project Maji has trained thousands of people of determination on proper hand-hygiene practices and distributed bars of soap across Ghana’s Maji communities. Paired with this hand-hygiene campaign, it has also devised the ‘Maji Bucket’ – a low-cost, easily replicable and inclusive facility to ensure safe handwashing practices in the country’s rural areas.
The Global Best Practice Programme honours a 2010 BIE mandate for all World Expos to spotlight solutions that can be replicated, adapted and scaled for greater global impact – highlighting World Expos as powerful platforms for inspiring change and driving human progress.