ARI at WEF 2019

21. February 2019

AO Research Institute Davos Director attends World Economic Forum 2019


AO Research Institute Davos (ARI) Director Professor Geoff Richards​ attended the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum 2019 (WEF) held in Davos, January 22-25 at the personal invite of WEF chairman Professor Schwab. Richards attended sessions on environmental protection, sustainable development, and the future of science and technology.

WEF is a key event in the international calendar for CEOs and governments that addresses the fundamental issues facing the world economy and which brings political, diplomatic, and corporate leaders together with scientists and NGO's to find new approaches and solutions to problems.

This year's WEF placed particular emphasis on the achievement of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. "It is brilliant that Professor Schwab has put climate change on global business leaders' agenda, this can also be an impetus for new sustainable planet friendly economic growth," Richards said.

Richards was impressed with HRH the Duke of Cambridge's insightful interview of Sir David Attenborough, which focused on the challenges we currently face and how we can act to effect change. "I started to collect fossils at an early age after watching Attenborough's​ black and white television program on fossils. I remember watching his wildlife documentaries (by then in color) and this, together with spending time with my father, a rural veterinary surgeon, visiting farms, gave me a special appreciation of the world around us, a love of nature, and eventually led to my career as a scientist."

"We need to act at every level, as individuals, households, businesses and communities and certainly as the AO Foundation. Every individual act, no matter how small, will help save our planet, protect its diversity, and therefore safeguard humanity's future as part of our planet's beautiful and fragile ecosystem," Richards said. ARI is already very careful when it comes to amount of flights taken and recycling materials used, even setting up a "swap shop" table where staff can leave unwanted useful items they no longer need, for others to take – instead of trashing them.

"The AO Foundation is a leader in research and education for surgeons and operating room personnel around the world and must lead by example by putting in place practices to reduce our carbon footprint (not just offset it). Reducing employee and faculty travel is an urgent must. Though in-person meetings are important to the AO's family feeling, many can use modern high-quality video conferencing systems, this needs implementation, as we do not have the luxury to wait. The preferential use of local and regional faculty before international faculty (when the expertise is high enough) also needs to be implemented as a process. Each one of us has a responsibility to make ourselves aware of the state of the planet. We each have a responsibility and duty to act," Richards said.