Davos WEF

We cozy up 'like little sardines': Meet the youth delegates camping in subzero temperatures at Davos

Key Points
  • The annual January get-together is set to welcome more than 3,000 participants this week, with those in attendance poised to focus on the intensifying climate crisis.
  • Many policymakers and business leaders are expected to travel in and out of Davos via private jets this year, but others have decided to camp in the Swiss Alpine town.
  • "We are practically representing those people who are already facing the impact of the climate crisis. It is time to get out of our comfort zones," Vanessa Nakate, a climate activist from Uganda, told CNBC on Tuesday.
Arctic Basecamp is hosting six global youth climate delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2020. In addition, two youth volunteers joined the Arctic Basecamp crew to help with with logistics.
Benjamin Hall | CNBC

DAVOS, Switzerland — Youth climate delegates from around the world are taking part in a "collaborative protest" against the rich and powerful by camping in subzero temperatures at the World Economic Forum.

The annual January get-together — which is often criticized for being out of touch with the real world — is set to welcome more than 3,000 participants this week, with those in attendance poised to focus on the intensifying climate crisis.

It follows the hottest year on record for the world's oceans, the second-hottest year for global average temperatures and wildfires from the U.S. to the Amazon to Australia.

Many policymakers and business leaders are expected to travel in and out of Davos via private jets this year, but others have decided to camp in the Swiss Alpine town.

"We are just trying to show them that we are doing the right thing despite the fact that we are not sleeping or staying in the best conditions. And, as they are enjoying their first class (flights), they should know that there are people who are actually living in worse conditions," Vanessa Nakate, a climate activist from Uganda, told CNBC on Tuesday.

"So, we are practically representing those people who are already facing the impact of the climate crisis. It is time to get out of our comfort zones," Nakate said.

'Little sardines'

Six global youth climate delegates have chosen to stay at Arctic Basecamp in Davos this year, with two more youth volunteers set to help the crew with logistics.

Basecamp is a unique science-solution outreach platform pushing for urgent action on climate change from political and business leaders.

It has been running at Davos for four years, with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg staying with the Basecamp team for one night in 2019.

When asked how they were able to keep warm, U.S. youth delegate Eva Jones replied: "It's better if we all cozy up together like little sardines."

"I think we had eight people in our tent last night … and I was so grateful to be right between them because both of them were emanating heat."

Global youth climate delegates at Arctic Basecamp in Davos, Switzerland watch a livestream of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Jan. 21, 2020.
Arctic Basecamp | Henry Iddon

Kaime Silvestre, a climate activist from Brazil, conceded that he had been "really afraid" about the prospect of sleeping outside in such cold weather.

But, he explained the reason he was taking part was to "put pressure" on global leaders to take immediate action over the climate emergency.

"It is a form of protest," Silvestre said.

Jones agreed, before adding their actions could be interpreted as a "collaborative protest."

The forum has said it aims to assist governments and international institutions in tracking progress toward the Paris Agreement and the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals.

"We don't really have any time left because some countries and some continents are already experiencing the impact of the climate crisis," Uganda's Nakate said.

It is important for world leaders "to take climate action and stop playing around with the lives of the people because all lives matter," she added.

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