The Forum works year-round to develop content and thought leadership on a vast array of topics that inform the global sustainability agenda. But beyond this, the Forum, like every other institution, consumes resources and leaves a footprint in the course of its daily work.
While we believe that the quantum of positive outcomes from Forum events throughout the year – in terms of partnerships, new thinking and support for new initiatives – far outweighs the direct impacts of hosting an event, we are also acutely aware that the very act of gathering world leaders and experts together at a meeting site creates its own impact.
Reducing these impacts is achieved through a programme called Sustainable Forum, a successor to the Greener Davos initiative, which operated from 2010 to 2015.
The special nature of the Annual Meeting and the increasing profile of sustainability require an innovative and flexible approach. In this context, the Forum has been pursuing the ISO 20121 Event Sustainability Management System. In January 2018, the Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters was certified to this international standard, following audits by DNV GL, an external auditing company. With ISO 20121, the Forum follows a strict methodology to embed sustainability into its internal policies and processes.
PublicisLive, the Forum’s official provider of logistics and key support services, has also achieved the ISO 20121 certification for the planning and delivery of the events they manage.
The Sustainable Forum initiative, along with the Forum’s Sustainability Policy, was approved by our Managing Board on 13 July 2015. The Sustainability Policy presents six priority areas:
1. Promote sustainable business models and practices
Through the World Economic Forum’s 14 System Initiatives, we harness the drive and influence of our communities of global leaders to make sustainable positive change. We work with them to shape their ideas and bring them to fruition through changing mindsets, building and deepening networks between change-makers, developing new policy proposals and partnership models and catalysing action.
2. Limit our environmental footprint
Energy management – In complement to 100% renewable electricity from the grid for temporary constructions in Davos and in Geneva, the Forum is also investing in energy efficiency to reduce energy demand, for instance by using LED lighting systems. Alternative energy sources are also tested: wood pellets have been introduced in Davos in place of fuel oil to reduce carbon emissions.
In addition, a photovoltaic system with a total capacity of 340 Kilowatt Peak (kWp) has been installed on the rooftop of the Davos Congress Centre with the sponsorship of Hanwha Q CELLS. This system creates enough energy to replace more than 20 tons of CO2 emissions each year.
Resource management – Through a thoughtful programme of materials optimization and storage, we are able to reuse a large part of furniture and equipment at the Annual Meeting year after year. In addition, the Forum implements a thorough and careful monitoring of the different waste streams to foster second-life solutions, such as donation and recycling. First results include a 14% reduction of the waste going to incineration at the Annual Meeting 2017 compared to the previous year.
Waste management best practices are also implemented in Forum offices, with a comprehensive waste sorting programme. In Geneva, a badge-based printing system reduces ink and paper consumption.
Transport – As with all major events, we recognize the significant impact of transport and aim to reduce it by implementing measures to optimize ground transport related to our events. In addition, the Forum compensates all CO2 emissions from participants, media and staff due to air travel to the Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters. This Forum project is supported by the South Pole Group, a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur.
Food and beverage – We have continually increased the number of vegetarian meals served (50% at the Annual Meeting 2017) and proportion of local ingredients used (70% of the food sourced locally at the same event). Sustainable catering practices are fostered at our headquarters in Geneva through collaboration with the Forum’s catering supplier. Actions include careful choice of food suppliers and local, labelled, organic and vegetarian menus with products from small producers.
Environmental management of Forum’s offices – The Forum’s offices in Geneva comply with strict local regulations. In 2017, energy consumption was reduced by 20% on 2015 levels through monitoring and investment in energy efficiency equipment. In addition, the Forum’s offices in New York and San Francisco are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified to Platinum and Gold level, respectively. The LEED certification validates the green credentials of the buildings’ design, construction, operations and maintenance.
3. Uphold the highest standards of governance
Internal processes and governance – A dedicated sustainability unit has been set up within the Forum to deploy the necessary internal processes to ensure that sustainability is integrated into all business operations.
Compliance – Respect for human rights, internationally recognized labour standards and zero tolerance for corruption are reflected in the Forum’s internal guidelines. See the Forum’s Code of Conduct.
4. Keep our staff members healthy and safe and 5. Be a responsible and inclusive employer and client
Working with providers – The Forum is implementing improved procurement policies, aligned with our Sustainable Procurement Policy. We have notably encouraged one of our main partners and provider of services PublicisLive to adopt a sustainability approach and apply the same standards. PublicisLive has also obtained the ISO 20121 certification.
Gender-equality salary certification – The World Economic Forum was one of the first employers in Switzerland to receive gender-equality salary certification.
Health, safety and well-being – The Forum commits to fair employment practices, and health, safety and well-being of its employees.
6. Engage positively with communities and stakeholders where the Forum operates
Local communities’ engagement – The Forum works with many small Swiss suppliers to deliver the Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters and values local expertise for its operations. The Forum also actively engages with local stakeholders and authorities to ensure mutual benefits and to support the development of local sustainability programmes.
Greater public engagement – In the Open Forum, we have enabled greater engagement of the local community, civil society and the general public on topical debates. Webcast transmission also increases the accessibility of the sessions for viewers around the world and improves engagement with a wider audience.