- By Robbie GramerRobbie Gramer is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. He writes for The Cable, FP’s real-time take on all things, well, foreign policy. Before he joined FP in 2016, he used to think in a tank, managing the NATO portfolio at the Atlantic Council for three years. He’s a graduate of American University’s School of International Service, where he studied international relations and European affairs. He has lived in both Washington and Brussels, though he grew up in Idaho and Oregon, so he’s a West Coaster at heart. When he’s not busy reporting, he’s probably busy starting three new books before he has finished the last one or planning a trip to a national park he hasn’t visited yet.
Ah, the World Economic Forum. The annual forum where the Who’s Who of super elites meet in the small Swiss alpine resort of Davos to talk at other super elites about how to solve the rest of the world’s problems. Given how 2016 went, they’ve got a lot to talk about. But first they are focusing on freeing hotel space for Davos attendees at future meetings.
One potential solution? Lodge WEF staff in containerized housing units during the event.
“We are facing more and more people every year,” WEF spokesman Yann Zopf told Bloomberg of the possibility, aimed to clear hotel space for participants. It’s not a problem this year, he said: “We’ll manage for 2017, but we need to think longer term.”
Luckily, thinking longer-term is WEF’s specialty — particularly given the strategic thinkers it invites annually, from heads of state to celebrities to the world’s top CEO’s. Together, this motley crew of the world’s top players convene in Davos to tackle global challenges through a potent concoction of buzzwordy quotes like “every country needs a Minister of the Future,” and “speed is the new currency of business,” or “the fourth industrial revolution should be a revolution of values,” and “let’s put our optimism goggles on.”
The town of Davos has only 13,000 hotel rooms and apartments — a problem during the surge of people visiting during WEF in January. While the exclusive meeting hosts 2,500 participants, the spectacle can draw in thousands more tourists; in 2015, some 11,000 people visited the small Alpine town during the conference.
But don’t take your optimism goggles off just yet — WEF thinks putting the staff up in temporary housing containers could solve the village’s temporary housing crisis. WEF head of operations Alois Zwinggi said the Parsenn parking lot near the conference venue could make a great space for erecting the containers for staff housing down the road, according to Bilanz Magazine.
It’s a innovative, strategic solution. That way, CEO’s and world leaders can focus on tackling challenges like “rising income inequality” and “social inclusion” and not have to worry about finding hotel rooms — particularly given the other hardships they have to deal with like Audi-choked traffic jams and ensuring private planes can land on time before talks on climate change and environmental responsibility.
Update: A previous version of this article used the term “shipping containers” when they are better described as pre-fabricated modular temporary housing units. The U.S. military uses ‘CHU’ to describe any containerized housing unit.
Photo credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images