Arctic Basecamp at Davos 2020 20-24 January 2020

Who We Are

Arctic Basecamp is a unique high-profile science solutions communication platform created by Professor Gail Whiteman (University of Exeter). Our mission is to 'speak science to power' in order to encourage bold climate action. We work with global scientists and world-class organisations and individuals raising awareness of the global risks from Arctic change and to highlight the urgent need for scaleable solutions to climate change.

We have successfully hosted four high-level events at the World Economic Forum in Davos 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

We do this to encourage a movement for change, because we know that what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.

Why Davos?

We bring the Arctic to the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting at Davos. We set up a real Arctic science basecamp, with an expedition tent which acts as our workplace during the day and our dormitory at night, camping in sub-zero temperatures to bring a message of global risk to the world leaders at the WEF.

During our time in Davos, Arctic scientists, youth activists, global business leaders, policymakers, innovators and disruptors come together for a series of events, science briefings, debates and discussions on the Arctic. We want our presence to kickstart innovative policy decisions and to find real-world global situations to the climate crisis.

High-profile individuals who actively support Arctic Basecamp include Greta Thunberg, Rainn Wilson, Al Gore, Christiana Figueres, Ellie Goulding, Lily Cole, Banksy as well as several heads of state. Supporter organisations include the UN Global Goals, the World Economic Forum, BNP Paribas, Google X The Moonshot Factory, The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, The B- team, We Mean Business, Mission2020, WWF, The Club of Rome, the UK office of the UN’s High Level Climate Action Champion and Extinction Rebellion.

Arctic Basecamp at Davos 2020 was made possible with financial support from sponsors: Lancaster University’s Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business, BNP Paribas, X The Moonshot Factory, WWF, The Fort Foundation, Berghaus, Endura and Novatug.

Why Do We Need to Speak Science to Power?

The Arctic is the poster child for the need to stay below the +1.5C emissions target, and it’s warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Climate Research shows a strong and direct correlation with rising CO2 emissions and loss of Arctic ice.

Science shows that the Arctic is the barometer of global risk - what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay there. Research shows that Arctic change and rapid Arctic warming is linked to extreme weather farther south. Be it frigid cold spells, prolonged floods, persistent warmth, or long dry spells.

Every mid-September, the Arctic summer sea ice melts to its lowest point. In 2019, the Arctic ice was close to an all-time low. Greenland is melting significantly and Arctic peatland fires were raging. This is a worrying sign of climate change. All of the data shows that the Arctic is in crisis – this large system has entered an ‘unprecedented state’.

2020 is a critical year for climate action, Arctic Basecamp and associated scientists are committed to make the irrefutable case that the world needs to scale up bold climate action now.

Click to save and enlarge

2020 Highlights

  • Professor Gail Whiteman was invited into the main World Economic Forum Congress Centre to present “What’s at Stake: The Arctic” and participate in a panel discussion alongside Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Al Gore, Scott Minerd and moderated by Elena Cherney (Wall Street Journal)
  • Arctic Basecamp hosted the launch of Unite Behind the Science a campaign, launched by Christiana Figueres and Greta Thunberg in 2020, demanding that leaders take action in line with the irrefutable science on the climate emergency and what it will take to avert its worst impacts. Arctic Basecamp is the official science partner
  • US Emmy nominated actor, and climate activist, Rainn Wilson camped with us in Davos and joined us at all our events. As well as being a spokesperson for climate change he also provided social media coverage to his millions of followers
  • A live satellite link up to Polarstern scientists from their ship frozen into the Arctic Ocean. The 12 month mission, which started in September 2019, sees researchers from 16 nations aboard the icebreaker Polarstern drifting through the Arctic Ocean - trapped in ice
  • BNP Paribas, one of our major sponsors hosted two high level business/finance roundtables with Arctic Basecamp. The first along with the Club of Rome, “Planetary Emergency Risk: Incorporating impact of climate risk into business models” and the second “Blended Finance, Scaling the Roadblocks”. Both sessions were fully subscribed
  • This year, for the first time, Arctic Basecamp brought an international youth climate delegation to Davos so their voices could be heard alongside our scientists, world leaders and other high-profile individuals. Arctic Basecamp hosted a team of young climate activists from Uganda, Brazil, Greenland, China, USA and UK to participate in conversations with climate scientists, and walk alongside Greta Thunberg in the #FridaysForFuture climate strike on the final day of the WEF annual meeting
  • UK entrepreneur, model and author Lily Cole joined us in Davos, as well as supporting us at our events she also accompanied our youth delegates at the #FridaysForTheFuture march. Lily also hosted our Arctic Basecamp 'nightcap' and fundraising silent auction in Chalet Schatzalp
  • We hosted an XR Fire Circle outside our Arctic Basecamp tent during their first time speaking at the WEF
"What's at stake in the Arctic is actually the future of humanity itself."

Professor Gail Whiteman

Click on any image to save and enlarge. L-R: Arctic Basecamp youth delegates with Dr Jeremy Wilkinson (British Antarctic Survey) and the ancient ice core, Unite Behind the Science launch, youth delegates with Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (Former President of Iceland), Rainn Wilson and Christiana Figueres on Facebook Live, Lily Cole signing an authorised Banksy print for auction, Lily Cole with Youth Delegates before the #FridaysForFuture climate strike

Youth Delegation

For the first time Arctic Basecamp brought an international youth delegation with them to Davos. Delegates from Uganda, Brazil, Greenland, China, USA and the UK travelled to Davos to camp with us at Arctic Basecamp.

Our young delegates attended a range of events including the Salesforce Davos Codes event with Davos schoolchildren and the #FridaysForFuture press conference and march with Greta Thunberg.

#FridaysForFuture demonstration at Davos

Delegates also enjoyed a briefing with former Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.

We will continue to work with this action-focused group of young people in our future events including UN Climate Week, Arctic Circle and COP 26.

Youth delegates chatting to former Icelandic President and Chair of Arctic Circle, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson

Special thanks to Berghaus, for providing essential cold weather clothing, and Novatug for funding their sleeping tent, kit and travel to Davos.

Professor Gail Whiteman and Andy Rubin, Chairman of Pentland Brands, with Arctic Basecamp youth delegates

Event Programme

Along with our partners, supporters and sponsors we hosted a diverse event schedule in Davos this year.

Click to save and enlarge

Arctic Basecamp opened proceedings in Davos with the launch of Unite Behind the Science - a global campaign with Christiana Figueres and Greta Thunberg to mobilise global scientists to demand that leaders take action in line with the irrefutable science on the climate emergency and what it will take to avert its worst impacts. The press launch was attended by a panel comprising of Christiana Figueres, Rainn Wilson, Johan Rockström, Gail Whiteman and Nigel Topping the newly appointed UN High Level Action Champion for COP 26.

L-R: Nigel Topping, Christiana Figueres, Gail Whiteman, Rainn Wilson and Johan Rockström

On Tuesday 21 January Arctic Basecamp co-hosted the "World Changing Science" session at Davos House with Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at X The Moonshot Factory. This session looked at how scientific breakthroughs are redefining our future.

Arctic Basecamp scientists along with Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at X The Moonshot Factory, Rainn Wilson and other speakers at the joint session “World Changing Science” at Davos House, January 2020
Dr Jeremy Wilkinson speaking at the Salesforce Davos Codes session

Arctic Basecamp supported Salesforce with their fifth Davos Codes event with young people from Davos Middle School. Professor Gail Whiteman and Dr Jeremy Wilkinson spoke to young people about Arctic issues and our youth delegates demonstrated the ancient ice core containing carbon dioxide from 700 years ago.

Eva Jones, Arctic Basecamp youth delegate demonstrates the ancient ice core to Davos students
Johan Rockström, Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Gail Whiteman, Naoko Ishii, and Matthew Sandoe at the BNP Paribas open session at Arctic Basecamp

One of our major sponsors, BNP Paribas held two sessions in Hotel Schatzalp with Arctic Basecamp - “Planetary Emergency Risk: Incorporating impact of climate risk into business models”. The session started with an open plenary with Johan Rockström, Naoko Ishii, Sandrine Dixson-Declève and Matthew Sandoe from BNP Paribas before moving inside for a closed session.

BNP Paribas session in the Hotel Schatzalp - “Planetary Emergency Risk: Incorporating impact of climate risk into business models”

The second session, also held in the hotel Schatzalp, was a Roundtable: “Blended Finance, Scaling the Roadblocks”. Both sessions were fully subscribed and highlighted the close links between economics and climate emergencies.

Dr Jeremy Wilkinson and youth delegates talking to Polarstern scientists in the Arctic Ocean

We were delighted to host a live satellite link up to Polarstern scientists from their ship frozen into the Arctic ocean. Youth delegates were given the opportunity to ask questions and it seems the scientists enjoyed the exchange as much as we did.

Polarstern scientists aboard their ship frozen into the Arctic Ocean talking, via satellite, to Arctic Basecamp

Our Basecamp tent also hosted two livestream sessions. The first being Greta Thunberg's session, “Averting a Climate Apocalypse” from inside the Congress Centre:

Livestream of Greta Thunberg's speech from inside the Congress Centre

The second being Professor Gail Whiteman's session -“What’s at Stake: The Arctic”.

Inside the tent - Livestream of Professor Gail Whiteman's session in the Congress Centre

During their first time speaking at the WEF in Davos we hosted an XR Fire Circle outside our Arctic Basecamp tent. The event attracted a range of attendees.

Extinction Rebellion Fire Circle

Arctic Basecamp continued fundraising whilst at Davos, as well as offering our limited edition Basecamp neckwarmers for a donation we also co-hosted a 'nightcap' at Chalet Schatzalp with Lily Cole. We conducted a silent auction including lots from Zaria Forman, Banksy accredited photograph of his (suspected) Marble Arch piece signed by Dr Jane Goodall, Rainn Wilson, Lily Cole, Gail Whiteman, Johan Rockström and Christiana Figueres, and Lily Cole's new book. We also projected the stunning Banksy image onto our Basecamp tent.

Arctic Basecamp Nightcap
Creating banners for the #FridaysForFuture march

Our events culminated in the #FridaysForFuture school strike march where our youth delegates accompanied Greta Thunberg at the preceding press conference, with Basecamp youth delegate Vanessa Nakate on the panel alongside Greta and other young climate activists.

Press Conference preceding the #FridaysForFuture march
Vanessa Nakate alongside Greta Thunberg at the #FridaysForFuture press conference
#FridaysForFuture march through Davos

Media Coverage

Arctic Basecamp once again enjoyed a wide range of coverage from traditional print, broadcast and online media including CGTN, The Independent, CNBC, and contemporary consumer media such as British Vogue and Rolling Stone. Media reach was in excess of 10 million.

The World Economic Forum also included Arctic Basecamp in its roundup - 5 things we learned about climate change at Davos 2020.

As well as extensive online coverage CNBC also spent time in camp with Rainn Wilson and our youth delegates. Watch their report below (Arctic Basecamp features from 4.55 to end).

Following Davos WWF and TIME magazine also featured Arctic Basecamp in follow up pieces.

Further media coverage can be found on our website - arcticbasecamp.org

Social Media


Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and founder of Global Optimism
Nigel Topping, UN's High Level Climate Action Champion for the COP 26
Professor Johan Rockström, Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and leader of the Planetary Boundaries research
Rainn Wilson, US actor and campaigner
Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at X, The Moonshot Factory
Dr Jeremy Wilkinson, British Antarctic Survey
Naoko Ishii, economist and CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility
Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-president of the Club of Rome and the former CPO of UN Sustainable Development.
Matthew Sandoe, Chief of Staff BNP Paribas Wealth Management Asia
Lily Cole, English model, author, actress and entrepreneur

Our Sponsors

Arctic Basecamp at Davos 2020 would like to thank all our sponsors and supporters for helping us 'speak science to power' once again




Created with images by Nuno Antunes - "Jökulsárlón" • Annie Spratt - "untitled image" • Jonatan Pie - "When the fox shows you the tongue :)" • Andrew Tang - "Perito Moreno Glacier" • Marjorie Teo - "If I could make a home anywhere in the world, it would be right here, in the beautiful town of Ilulissat. Waking up to the sight of these icebergs would be nothing short of a dream for me. In a place like this, you just let go of all that’s trivial and materialistic. It’s a simple way of life, and certainly a much happier one." • Annie Spratt - "Arctic iceberg" • Annie Spratt - "Aerial (drone) view of Arctic Icebergs"