Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Asterix in Zaragoza

I was again in Zaragoza, Spain yesterday, where the international EXPO on Water and Sustainable Development is due to open this week-end.

For the last two years I have been helping with the development of El FARO, the Pavilion of Citizen Initiatives. For the first time at an EXPO an entire pavilion is conceived, designed, built and managed for and by a consortium of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). At the previous EXPO held in Aichi, Japan in 2005, an NGO Global Village had been set up, and in Zaragoiza we built from this experience in partnership with our Japanese colleagues. We hope that the NGO pavilion becomes a must at all future EXPOs.

Last minute construction at these sorts of events is always hectic. An entire new city was born in less than two years. And the record-breaking rainfalls of the last two months in Zaragoza have not helped. After one of the dryiest winters, Zaragoza had the most rainy spring since the year...1880 [since the Meji Period as I explained to our Japanese colleagues yesterday]. El FARO is very close to the Ebro riverside, and the main building material is made up of clay, but I could see yesterday that it looks like it's going to be ready on time this week-end, notwithstanding the rain.

Some say that it is a bit ironic that the rain is creating difficulty to the Water EXPO. Others see it as good karma. Two sides of the same coin.

In the middle of the EXPO, the French man in me finds that El FARO looks a bit like Asterix's village. But I'm sure we'll behave better than the Gauls in the story. And the Romans surrounding us too!

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