A closing ceremony has marked the end of the three-month long Astana EXPO 2017, themed “Future Energy", at which 115 countries and 22 international organisations exhibited their innovations and visions for a sustainable future. Bureau International des Expositions Secretary General Vicente Loscertales described the event as “a tremendous success."
According to figures released on the final day of the exposition, the total number of attendees exceeded 3,860,000 visitors. The last day alone saw almost a five-fold increase on the average daily visitors, with over 100,000 attendees embracing the last opportunity to visit the event. In terms of foreign visitors, official figures show that half a million people came to EXPO from 180 different countries, including some 50 international leaders.
The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, also stressed the value of EXPO 2017 going forward in his closing speech, with the legacy of the event living on through a number of prospective initiatives in Kazakhstan. Plans to establish an International Centre for the development and investment in green technologies and an International Technology Start-up Centre, alongside the launch of the Astana International Financial Centre, will aim to position Astana as a regional hub for finance, technology, and research into renewable energies.
These initatives will utilise the infrastructure developed for EXPO 2017, including the recent creation of a new terminal at the Astana International Airport, which has increased the capacity of the airport from 3.6 million to 8.2 million passengers per year, as well as the Nurly Zhol railway station which has an area of 126,000 square metres and connects six receiving and sending routes.
The station's capacity is approximately 12 million people a year. The facility, built using the latest advanced technologies, has a staff of more than 1,000 people. Trains arrive inside the station to ensure passengers are warm during the winter and comfortable in summer's heat. The new station is equipped with cutting-edge intelligent control and monitoring systems for passenger traffic, queueing, security and e-ticket sales.
One of the key participants of EXPO 2017 was the British delegation, highlighting the important relationship between Kazakhstan and the UK. Its pavilion picked up a silver award for “Best Exhibition" to commend its design and concept. The team who designed the space, which included designer and architect Asif Khan and producer Brian Eno, created an immersive 360-degree time-lapse panorama of climate variation on Earth, emphasising how small decisions can influence the rest of the planet.
The UK Pavilion, which welcomed over 500,000 visitors during the course of EXPO 2017, also had a varied programme for the UK National Day at EXPO, held on 26th June 2017. The UK National Day was opened by Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who emphasized the fact that over 100 countries take part in Astana EXPO-2017, which is a huge achievement for Kazakhstan. The UK National Day at EXPO included readings of Harry Potter, a classic Scottish bagpipe performance, and a technological showpiece of one of Britain's latest “great discoveries": graphene.
EXPO 2017 also hosted a high level visit from the UK's International Trade Minister Mr Greg Hands, whose visit to Astana saw the signing of a number of important bilateral documents and a meeting with Kazakh Prime Minister Mr Bakytzhan Sagintayev. The UK's Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, Sir Alan Duncan, who also paid a visit to Astana, noted the mutual benefit that the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Kazakhstan has already brought. It has also hosted a visit of a business-delegation led by Mr Andrew Parmley, the Lord-Mayor of the City of London.
With over 500 British companies registered in Kazakhstan, and with the United Kingdom having invested more than £20 billion in the country since its independence in 1991, Sir Alan Duncan emphasised the importance of this relationship going forward. He singled out existing collaboration in upcoming projects such as the Astana International Financial Centre.
Mr Roman Vassilenko, Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, said EXPO 2017 was a real platform for global debate on the best technologies.
“EXPO 2017 in Astana has indeed been a success. First, it provided the participation of 115 countries and 22 international organisations. So, it's a lot of countries, who were able to present their technologies. I think the success of EXPO primarily manifests itself in the fact that it did succeed in providing the platform for the global debate on the best technologies that the mankind can now offer to ensure the sustainable economic growth for the future, which provides for the sustainable use of energy resources, including alternative energy sources".
The audience at the closing ceremony of Astana EXPO 2017 witnessed a production combining a range of the technologies from all of the exhibitions involved, as well as a theatrical performance in which 2,232 participants took part.
Guests were shown the potential impact that the 153 inventions exhibited at EXPO 2017 could have on our world through an artistic and musical performance representing a future where a number of these technologies have become the norm.