Mark Byrnes is a former senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
On Thursday, members of the "No Expo" movement took to the streets. Tens of thousands more are expected to march against the event Friday.
One day before Milan's World Expo opens it doors, as many as 2,000 Milanese took to the streets in protest with many more expected Friday.
Earlier Thursday, members of the "No Expo" movement marched against the six-month event that officials hope will generate 20 million visits and a $10 billion economic boost to a country sorely in need of it. While tourism expectations are high for Milan's first World's Fair since 1906, locals have a list of reasons why they're skeptical of, if not flat out opposed to, Expo 2015.
Public opposition to the event grew last year after seven Expo managers and former members of parliament were arrested over alleged attempts to influence public contracts. But many behind No Expo have been against the event since it was first awarded to Milan in 2008.
Expo 2015's official theme is "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life." One hundred and forty-five countries and international organizations will be in Milan through October 31, demonstrating their own ideas for preserving "food culture" while producing and delivering food around the world in an environmentally sustainable way.
Thursday's demonstrators, however, say Milan doesn't represent such a mission. "The region of Lombardy—of which Milan is the administrative center—has nothing to teach the rest of the world in terms of sustainability," a No Expo leader told International Business Times, calling the new infrastructure created for the event (a 45-minute trek from the city center via public transit) "useless."
Protesters are opposed to many of Expo's corporate partnerships. "Why do people not have access to food and water?" asks the same protestor, "the expo does not answer this question because the very same expo organizers—big corporations—are the reason why people cannot access food and water."
Expo's use of of thousands of unpaid volunteer workers for an event that cost $2.8 billion to put together has also come under fire, with some demonstrators holding sings that said, "I Don't Work for Expo for Free."