Rabat, May 7th 2015 (MAP) – The curtain has been lifted on Milan Expo 2015 « Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life », the largest event ever organized on the theme of food and nutrition, involving more than 140 countries.
Officially opened on May 1 by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Expo received more than 200,000 visitors on the first day. Torrents of people flooded the Decumano road, wandering among the country pavilions and clusters, stopping to sample specialties or watch entertainment events staged by individual countries to open their spaces.
Visitors to the first day found all the pavilions open. The inaugural ceremony took place in the open air theatre at the Rho site, from 12 p.m., starring among others the Italian air force Frecce Tricolori display team, weaving colours in the sky above Expo, and children singing the Italian national anthem. Expo Commissioner and CEO Giuseppe Sala opened the proceedings: « All this, » he said, « is not the result of an Italian miracle, but of a devotion to work that we Italians can express like few others in the world. »
Milan Expo will be « a great event thanks to the efforts of all, » assured President of the Bureau International des Exposition (BIE), Ferdinand Nagy, who recalled the « many years of work » and gave his thanks to the Italian government and the participating countries and organizations for the « results achieved with the assistance of everyone’s efforts ».
Pope Francis also spoke live on television from the Vatican. « Expo is a propitious occasion to globalize solidarity. Let us not waste it, » warned Francis. « In particular, the theme of ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ brings us together. We must thank the Lord for this as well, for choosing such an important, essential issue . . . provided it does not remain only a ‘theme’, provided that it is always accompanied by awareness of faces, the faces of the millions of people who are hungry today, who will not eat a meal worthy of a human being today. I would like everyone who visits Milan Expo, as they walk through these wonderful pavilions, to feel the presence of those faces. It is a hidden presence, but one that ought to be the actual centre stage of the event: the faces of men and women who are hungry, who get sick, and even die, from inadequate or even harmful food. »
« Expo – said Italian Prime Minister Renzi – is a gamble not yet won, but it’s a gamble we can succeed at. Everyone, from the nameless worker to the police, is doing a tremendous job. » « Today, the future of a country with an extraordinary past begins, but also one that has a future that now embraces the world, » he said.
After the opening ceremony, everyone was at the gala dinner at the Italian Pavilion, with international guests, President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama, President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba, and French ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Environment, Laurent Fabius and Segolene Royal. Among others the pavilions of Mexico, France, Brazil and Angola opened to long queues.
African nations are playing a leading role in Milan Expo with 29 attending, making the continent one of the most important presences at the event. Italian oil and gas giant Eni is also there alongside Africa as Official Partner for Sustainability Initiatives in Africa Countries. Eni was chosen as a partner due to its understanding of the fundamental value of sustainability and its particular interest in the African continent, where it is the leading international energy company in terms of hydrocarbon production. Expo will be an opportunity to look at Eni’s many initiatives in support of local development in Africa with particular emphasis on access to energy in the deepest sense of sustainability, cooperation, innovation and research. For the whole six months of Expo Eni will be there with African countries to discuss these issues with national governments but also with local farmers and researchers.