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Climate-Neutral Davos: World Economic Forum’s 50th Annual Meeting To Be More Sustainable Than Ever

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The World Economic Forum’s 50th Annual Meeting, to be held in Davos on January 21-24 , will be climate-neutral for the fourth consecutive year, with new initiatives to boost resource efficiency and reduce emissions.

Building on its 2018 ISO 20121 certification for sustainable event management, the Forum in 2020 is working to make Davos one of the most sustainable international summits in four key areas:

Emissions: The Forum has been offsetting 100% of all emissions, including air travel, since 2017. Some 35,000 tons of CO2 equivalent were offset in 2019: this provided funding for sustainable production in the Amazon Basin, efficient cookstoves in China, Mali, India and South Africa, and biogas installations in local farms in Switzerland. The Forum also funds the restoration of peatlands across the canton of Graubunden, which hosts the Annual Meeting. The peatlands act as a natural carbon sink by absorbing greenhouse gases from the air.

The Forum has helped improve the sustainability of the Congress Centre in Davos with the installation of solar panels and geothermal heating in 2020. Moreover, the Annual Meeting relies on 100% renewable electricity in its temporary event spaces and utilizes best-in-class insulation and heating systems as well as efficient lighting devices.

Materials: The Forum promotes a circular economy, an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. It applies this principle in the logistics of the Annual Meeting by focusing on reducing, reusing and recycling materials. The Annual Meeting 2020 will reduce the amount of waste by 25% compared to 2019 by introducing new design concepts, repurposing more material and removing single-use plastics for bags and beverages.

Food: Some 90% of food will feature seasonal ingredients and there will be more plant-based meals using regional produce than in 2019. The provenance and ecological footprint of each food product will be checked and new artificial intelligence tools will be tested to reduce food waste. A full day of the Annual Meeting (22 January) will be designated as “Future Food Wednesday”, with a menu that is rich in protein but meat- and fish-free.

Transport: The Forum will refund half of the cost of a first-class train ticket to any participant travelling by rail in 2020. Use of public transport will be further encouraged with a temporary railway station near the Congress Centre and a more frequent bus and shuttle service.

Nearly 90% of the Forum’s official vehicle fleet in Davos will either be electric or hybrid in 2020, compared to 66% in 2019. Walking remains the most efficient way to get about, with shoe grips and walking maps provided to participants and staff.

The Forum is encouraging all participants to use the most environmentally friendly mode of air travel. Since 2018, commercial private aviation has declined by 20% for Zurich and St Gallen-Altenrhein, the two nearest airports to Davos. The Forum is now working with partners in the aviation industry to promote sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) that can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% over their full life cycle.

“The Forum is committed to improving the state of the world and this is why sustainability of our 50th Annual Meeting takes on the utmost importance,” said Lee Howell, Managing Director and Head of Global Programming Group at the World Economic Forum.

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