Rome

Milan's Expo 2015 exceeds participation expectations

Fully 131 countries large and small ready for giant fair

Milan's Expo 2015 exceeds participation expectations

(by Sandra Cordon)Rome, July 26 - Expo 2015 in Milan has already exceeded its participation goal by signing up 131 countries from around the globe to join in a World's Fair dedicated to sustainable nutrition around the globe. The theme of Expo 2015, "Feeding the Planet – Energy for Life", centers on fighting famine and malnutrition worldwide through sustainable and healthy development, global cooperation and new technology. Organizers were aiming to reach at least 130 members countries and seems now on pace to sign up many more than that. Several large players, including the United States, Australia, Canada, and Great Britain have not yet signed on but are expected to participate. Expo 2015, which runs May 1 until October 31 that year, is expected to attract over 20 million visitors and to be a massive money spinner for Italy's business capital. Preparations on a 1.1-million-square-meter site have been underway for years. Italy last hosted a World's Fair in 1992 with a Christopher Columbus-themed Expo in Genoa. Already the list of attendees is staggering. Expo 2015 recently signed up the small Comoros Islands located in the Indian Ocean, Japan, and South Korea to push the world's fair past its original goal of seeing 130 nations take part. Giuseppe Sala, the commissioner for Expo Milan 2015, recently signed with South Korean officials confirming they will participate under the theme "Living Ocean and Coast" and will build its own pavilion on a 3,880 square-metre area. One of the first nations to sign up was China while other Asian participants include India, Thailand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Vietnam. European nations from Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Russia, Austria, Greece and France will join Americas countries from Uruguay to Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Bolivia, Argentia and the Dominican Republic. The list of participating African nations is very long: Gabon, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Congo, Mali, Egypt, Ivory Coast and Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. The Vatican is also participating and is expected to have a major pavilion. Former American vice-president and Nobel Peace Laureate Al Gore has endorsed the event, calling the theme "very solid" and designed to have "zero (negative) environmental impact". Meanwhile, work is progressing behind the scenes as well. Earlier this week, organizers announced a flexible labour pact between unions and management of Milan Expo 2015 that could create as many as 800 jobs for youth at the world's fair, including apprentices and on-the-job training in mounting special events. Some hope that the new protocol could also become a model of cooperation and employment flexibility for other major events in future if is approved by the Italian government. Signed by Expo commissioner Sala and several major union organizations including the CGIL, CISL and UIL, the protocol covers workers involved in preparations for world fair as well as the event itself. The deal is an important "first step" towards creating new jobs connected with Milan Expo 2015, says Labour Minister Enrico Giovannini. The protocol focuses on flexible arrangements in relation to apprenticeships, fixed-term contracts, and on-the-job training for workers who want to specialize in technical management of major events and the relevant systems. It is designed to cover contracts of at least six months to a maximum of one year. The text also defines the scope of activities for volunteers recruited directly by Expo 2015 SpA to assist in hospitality and greeting visitors from countries that have signed on to participate. It has been estimated that about 18,500 official volunteers will be included in programming, working a minimum of five hours daily for an average of two weeks each so a larger number of individuals can be included in the volunteer rotation.

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