On 15 November, members of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in Paris selected Buenos Aires as host of Specialised Expo 2023. In the first round, the Argentine capital faced the United States (Minnesota) and in the second round, Poland’s candidate, Łódź. The proposed theme of the Polish exhibition was “City Re: Invented.”
There are two well-known versions of the Expo. Every five years, the World Expo is held and has a general theme. The last World Expo was held in Milan in 2015, and the next one will be in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2020 with the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.” The second version, Specialized Expo, focuses on a more specific theme and is held between world exhibitions. Łódź was competing for the 2022 event, but Buenos Aires was selected instead. The Argentinian candidate’s theme is: “Science, Innovation, Art and Creativity for Human Development. Creative Industry in Digital Convergence.”
The intensive promotion of Łódź and Poland as part of the bid started just after becoming an official candidate in June. The project was presented at almost every international meeting of ministers, prime ministers, or presidents. The city’s chosen theme was part of a campaign promoting Poland as a country that had made a successful major transformation and is open to innovative projects. Łódź, a post-industrial city that fell into deep crisis at the beginning of the transformation, has become an example of the changes in Poland and other countries in the region. In addition to presentations during high-level talks, international conferences were organised in which the Łódź project was the starting point for discussion on the revitalisation of urban areas and needed changes to today’s cities.
The local government of Łódź, in cooperation with the central government, prepared an excellent project that was very well received by business entities, specialists like urbanists and architects, and international opinion. Łódź has become a recognized city and one associated with successful processes of change. By promoting its achievements and organising the international conferences, Łódź has become an internationally centre for debate on urban policy, sustainable development, urbanisation, and smart cities. The Expo campaign became an important element of “para-diplomacy” as well as public diplomacy. The crisis of its post-industrial past has been turned into a success through the promotion of the city’s good governance and innovation. The experience of Łódź can be particularly valuable for other Polish cities and regions because it has shown a new way of thinking about promoting and building a brand in the world.