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There is a good set of reasons that the U.S. has undertaken a renewed effort to bring a "World's Fair" back to this country. There are solid reasons for Minnesotans to celebrate the recognition that this is the best place to gather and imagine the future of "Healthy People, Healthy Planet," the proposed theme for an Expo in 2027 on a site in Bloomington.

As former diplomats representing the U.S. in places as different as Norway and Morocco, we start our reflections with a few observations on the status of "soft power" in the global dynamics now at play. Even as the atrocities in Ukraine remind us that military might is a necessity in the 21st century, it is critical to maintain awareness of the myriad ways interdependency defines the world we now occupy — and accept that interdependency will surely increase as we collectively test the limits of our planet's hospitality. The pandemic taught us that.

The exercise of soft power is illuminated in the ways both our federal government and our global-scale private sector touch the day-to-day lives of people around the world: access to healthy and affordable nutrition; access to clean water; access to lifesaving health care, just to start the list. The potential of soft power is also dependent on our capacity to listen and to learn from allies around the world: gaining insights from other countries and other cultures in ways that enhance our lives, too.

As a nation, we need to be focused on building and maintaining soft power as an integral part of our global leadership on many fronts. We have the opportunity to learn so much.

Then there are the economic reasons for welcoming a World's Fair to Minnesota. The Expo being proposed for 2027 will have the potential to showcase this region's leadership in public health, in food production, in medicine and health care delivery. It will also provide opportunities to explore new trade relationships and economic investments between our region and markets all around the globe.

All of us in America's heartland are aware that much of the world knows only about U.S. entertainment, global consumer brands and our major coastal cities. Developing trade relations with the U.S. seems an overwhelming challenge to many innovative organizations. So, the potential to create economic ties that build on our regional assets and aspirations will be real: We anticipate more than 1 million visitors from around the globe will make their way to Expo 2027 to explore the possibilities of investments here and the opening of new export markets for the products and services we excel in building.

Reintroducing a World's Fair or an Expo to American consumers will be one of the challenges for our hosting duties here in Minnesota: Plans are to welcome more than 11 million visitors from around North America. Given the ready access we all have to instantaneous updates on new products, new scientific breakthroughs and new ideas, the notion that people need to travel to learn about or explore new possibilities may seem old-fashioned or even faulty, at first. Yet, in the same way we've all learned through the pandemic that working together virtually can be highly productive, we are missing the opportunities to unleash creativity in each other.

Expo 2027 will be an impressive opportunity to explore the potential for ensuring that people around the world (and here) can be healthier. Similarly, it will energize people by displaying amazing developments that will be underway to protect the planet. These are experiences we as humans thrive in sharing.

Expo 2027 will be a chance to inspire adults and children alike, exposing them to big ideas and imagining the future for our children and grandchildren. To the extent we can do that with people from around the world, the stronger our soft power will remain.

Ben Whitney served as U.S. ambassador to Norway during the George W. Bush administration. Sam Kaplan served as U.S. ambassador to Morocco during the Barack Obama administration. Both now live in Minneapolis.