WEF is promising to buy carbon offsets, a redesigned conference center and a menu full of locally sourced food. The fleet of vehicles that will transport many dignitaries through the ski town It is now 88% electric or hybrid.
Still, the group's actions are unlikely to isolate it from critics, who argue that the forum and its participants are more concerned with optics than with systemic change.
WEF recognizes that because it "brings together stakeholders to help address the biggest ecological crisis of our time," it consumes resources and causes emissions. By 2020, it has promised to become "more sustainable than ever".
"The Forum is committed to improving the state of the world and that is why the sustainability of the 50th Annual Meeting is of the utmost importance," Lee Howell, managing director of the World Economic Forum, said in a statement.
However, ensuring a sustainable conference is not a simple task – largely due to the sheer number of flights required to attract nearly 3,000 delegates from around the world, not to mention their entourage, conference staff, security personnel and global media. .
WEF notes that it has compensated all flights for accredited flights conference participants since 2017 buying carbon credits that fund emission reduction projects. This year, credits acquired to offset conference emissions will support projects aimed at protecting the Amazon from deforestation and converting methane from Swiss cow dung into energy.
But Lucy Gilliam, aviation and maritime expert at Transport & Environment, a European nonprofit lobbying for clean transport, said there are drawbacks to offsetting programs, which need to be maintained over time and may take a while. to begin.
"In fact, you are not removing the emissions created by this plane," she said. "The plane will have burned this fuel and the carbon was released into the atmosphere."
Davos's particular problem, said Gilliam, is that many participating government ministers and top corporate executives opt for private aircraft, which produce more emissions per person than commercial flights.
Eymeric Segard, CEO of LunaJets, says he is responding to the "embarrassed flight" movement. Your Geneva-based company is pushing customers looking to book a private jet to Davos opt for smaller and more economical aircraft.
LunaJets is also pledging to compensate for every trip it book by acquiring carbon credits. This means that some conference trips can be offset twice – by both LunaJets and WEF.
"[It’s a] a niche clientele that goes to Davos, "he said." When they come from Africa, Asia, the USA and India, a train is simply not an option. "
The group said it last year offset 35,000 tonnes of emissions by financing not only efficient stoves in China, Mali, India and South Africa, but also restoring peat bogs in the area hosting the annual meeting.
In addition to paying to offset all emissions, WEF has remodeled the main conference center where it holds events by installing solar panels and geothermal heating. Seaweed paint was used to cool some rooms. Stage carpet will come from renewable sources, including "end-of-life fishing nets".
WEF is also eliminating disposable plastics for bags and beverages. "Future Food Wednesday" will feature "a protein rich menu without meat and fish." And technology from Swiss artificial intelligence company Kitro will be used to monitor food waste.