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Green Business Award Speaker 2021 Information
Advisory Board Story

Thomas Vellacott

CEO, WWF Switzerland

Thomas Vellacott is CEO of WWF Switzerland. WWF‘s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. WWF challenges unsustainable practices and builds solutions-based alliances for transformation. WWF Switzerland has 290,000 supporters and over 4,000 volunteers. Worldwide, more than 5 million people support WWF in over 100 countries. Thomas has been passionate about nature for as long as he can remember. He joined WWF as a member and volunteer when he was eight years old. Prior to taking on the role of CEO in 2012, Thomas was responsible for developing WWF’s partnerships with the private sector and subsequently spent nine years heading up WWF Switzerland‘s national and international nature conservation projects. Before joining WWF, he worked in private banking for Citibank and as a consultant and engagement manager for McKinsey & Co. Thomas holds degrees in Arabic and Islamic studies from Durham, in International Relations from Cambridge and in Business Administration from IMD. He serves on the boards of several nonprofits and startups in the sustainability space. Thomas and his family live in Zürich, from where he enjoys exploring nature on land and under water.

keynote | German

Review
2021

KEY-TAKE-AWAYS

The environmental events such as floods and fires in the summer of 2021 were a wake-up call. However, the astonishment of the population was astonishing. After all, we have known for a long time that the changing climate brings with it increasingly extreme events.

Growth is not negative per se. But it always depends on its nature. We need qualitative, intelligent growth that accepts planetary limits. We need to improve people's quality of life, not increase GDP.

The discussion about renunciation is framed too negatively. For example, travelling by train can be a conscious choice and a beautiful experience, rather than simply foregoing the flight. We should therefore become more creative in terms of framing.

On the way to a greener world, it is the small steps, the sum of all our actions, that matter. The question of what one person alone or a small country like Switzerland can do is absurd. Because that is how any kind of responsibility can be dismissed.

WWF maintains many partnerships with companies together. In doing so, the foundation not only makes demands, but also works out solutions together with them. Within the framework of these connections, it is important for WWF to always remain independent and to also be able to criticise the partners.

If companies want to survive and remain successful in the future, they should invest in the circular economy. To do something for the environment, it is not enough to just buy climate certificates, for example. That can be an option, but first companies have to do their homework and reduce emissions. They have to be very honest with themselves about this.