Sustainability

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This page is a portal to information about the environmental sustainability status and efforts at Wikimedia, including Wikimedia Foundation, the Wikimedia projects, and the communities that participate in the projects.

Words from the Wikimedia Foundation[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation pledged to "reduce the impact of our activities on the environment" with a February 2017 resolution by its Board of Trustees. Both the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia community members are making active efforts to improve the environmental sustainability of this work.

Wikimedia Foundation board resolution on environmental impact[edit]

"The Wikimedia Foundation is committed to seeking ways to reduce the impact of our activities on the environment. We aim to always act responsibly and sustainably as possible, including favoring renewable energy for our operations. We believe that a long-term commitment to sustainability is an essential component of our work towards the Wikimedia mission and vision.

To this end, the Wikimedia Foundation makes the following commitments:

  1. We will seek to minimize our overall impact on the environment;
  2. We will consider sustainability as an important part of decisions around servers, operations, travel, offices, and other procurement;
  3. We will use green energy where it is available and financially prudent; and
  4. Starting in 2018, we will include an environmental impact statement in our annual plan."

Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, February 24, 2017

Wikimedia Foundation sustainability mission statement[edit]

"The Wikimedia Foundation is committed to reducing the impact of our activities on the environment – our goal is to act responsibly and sustainably. We believe that a long-term commitment to the environment, and consideration of the effects of climate change, is an essential component of our work.

To this end, the Wikimedia Foundation will:

  • Minimize our overall impact on the environment by seeking to reduce our global carbon footprint;
  • Consider sustainability as a critical part of our decisions around how we plan our operations, travel, physical office use, and other procurements;
  • Use green energy where it is available and financially feasible;
  • Share sustainability information and lessons learned; and
  • Perform and share an annual environmental impact assessment

We are creating a Sustainability Consortium that is comprised of a cross-functional team of Foundation staff and interested community members that are dedicated to helping to create, implement, and advise executive leadership on potential activities to reduce the Foundation’s global carbon impact. We are deeply passionate about environmental sustainability and reducing the effects of climate change to ensure that the sum of all human knowledge continues to be available, regardless of political and global realities."

Janeen Uzzell, Chief Operating Officer, Wikimedia Foundation, December 13, 2019

Wikimedia Foundation sustainability framework[edit]

WMF Sustainability Impact Statement 2019.pdf

Wikimedia Foundation strategic sustainability roadmap[edit]

Operations
Strategy Deliverable
Minimize our carbon footprint Calculate carbon footprint and publish impact statement
Identify carbon-reduction opportunities
Integrate sustainability into planning process Create and manage a robust sustainability strategy
Incorporate sustainability deliverables into budget/planning process
Culture
Strategy Deliverable
Empower “green” choices Develop guidelines for remote vs. in-person participation of events, including meeting options to accommodate virtual participation
Develop purchasing guidelines that are environmentally sustainable
Encourage and enhance personal investment by suggesting “green” choices
Leverage a remote workforce Develop sustainable protocols for co-located Foundation events, including site selection criteria, lodging / accommodation practices, food / catering guidelines, etc.
Engagement
Strategy Deliverable
Enable global participation Develop protocols for events to encourage and accommodate virtual participation
Develop, facilitate, and support Community efforts in the Sustainability space
Share lessons learned Create protocols for sharing lessons learned back with the Community

Wikimedia Foundation board resolution update on environmental impact[edit]

"Whereas, in 2017 the Board of Trustees committed to including environmental impact statements as part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s annual plan; and

"Whereas, environmental impact statements are not a natural output of an annual planning process;

"Now, therefore, it is:

"RESOLVED, that the Board commits to regular assessment and transparency regarding the Foundation’s environmental impact through the publication of periodic environmental sustainability (carbon footprint) reports."

Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, June 24, 2022

Facts from the Wikimedia Foundation[edit]

Wikimedia Foundation sustainability metrics[edit]

Wikimedia Foundation 2018 Sustainability Assessment and Carbon Footprint
Wikimedia Foundation 2019 Annual Carbon Footprint Report
2020 Wikimedia Foundation Carbon Footprint report
Wikimedia Foundation Environmental Sustainability (Carbon Footprint) Report for 2021

We will assess the following metrics annually:

2018 2019 2020 2021
tCO₂e total for Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions 2,867.86 2,605.32 1,169.43 (see note 1) 1,1090.38
tCO₂e office related (facility/operation activities) 1.70 per SF-based staff 1.62 per SF-based staff 0.77 per SF-based staff (see note 2) n/a due to limited access to SF office
tCO₂e of travel for internal convenings 3.21 per attendee 1.07 per attendee 0.95 per attendee (see note 3) n/a due restriction of travel unless critical
tCO₂e of travel for community convenings n/a 0.68 per attendee 1.02 per attendee (see note 3) n/a due restriction of travel
tCO₂e of data center emissions / on all Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia 5.63 kgCO2-eq per 1M pageviews 3.05 kgCO2-eq per 1M pageviews 2.29 kgCO2-eq per 1M pageviews (see note 4) 4.05 kgCO2-eq per 1M pageviews
kWh of data center electricity / on all Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia 13.55 kWh per 1M pageviews 12.41 kWh per 1M pageviews 11.26 kWh per 1M pageviews (see note 4) 11.86 kWh per 1M pageviews
% participants engaging virtually in large-scale conferences (100 or more attendees) n/a n/a n/a n/a
  • Note 1: During the COVID-19 global pandemic, selected data for the carbon footprint was unavailable and estimates were used instead. Subsequently, actual data was obtained and the results have been restated here. In addition, in 2020 the CyrusOne data center provided additional information about its energy and water use for 2019 and 2018. These numbers have been restated accordingly in the report covering calendar year 2020.
  • Note 2: During the COVID-19 global pandemic, select data at the San Francisco office was unavailable and estimates for 2019 were used instead. Subsequently, actual data was obtained and the results have been restated in the report covering calendar year 2020.
  • Note 3: In 2019, travel data categorization was improved and data collection procedures were updated. As a result, all progress-to-date WMF travel calculations will reference 2019 as the baseline year. 2018 data is provided for historical reference only (as part of the report covering calendar year 2020).
  • Note 4: In 2020 the CyrusOne data center provided additional information about its energy and water use for 2019 and 2018. These numbers have been restated accordingly in the report covering calendar year 2020.

Wikimedia Foundation sustainability timeline, reports, and more[edit]

Year Published Board Resolutions WMF Annual Carbon Footprint Report WMF Sustainability Impact Statement Wikimania Presentations Blog Posts Tuning Sessions / Programs
2017 February: Board Resolution on Environmental Impact (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a) (n/a)
2018 May: Board resolution on Wikimedia Foundation Investment Policy (n/a) (n/a) Poster: Sustainability and the Free Knowledge Movement (n/a) FY18/19 Technology Program #7, Environmental Sustainability
2019 (n/a) September: WMF Initial Sustainability Assessment and Carbon Footprint report December: WMF Sustainability Impact Statement (mission statement, framework, roadmap) Session: What we've learned about environmental sustainability (slides / recording) How the Wikimedia Foundation is making efforts to go green Sustainability update at quarterly Tuning Session
2020 (n/a) August: WMF Annual Carbon Footprint Report August: WMF Annual Sustainability Impact Statement Wikimania 2020 was cancelled due to covid-19 and the global pandemic How the Wikimedia Foundation is continuing efforts to reduce its carbon impact September: Wikimedia Foundation FY20-21 Sustainability Programmatic Roadmap
2021 (n/a) September: WMF Annual Carbon Footprint Report September: WMF Annual Sustainability Impact Statement (n/a) (n/a) (n/a)
2022 June: Updating Environmental Sustainability Commitments, 2022 June: Wikimedia Foundation Environmental Sustainability (Carbon Footprint) Report for 2021 (n/a - now contained in the Environmental Sustainability Carbon Footprint Report) (n/a) Wikimedia Foundation Environmental Sustainability (Carbon Footprint) Report for 2021 (n/a)

Wikimedia Foundation Data Center Supplementary information[edit]

This data was collected by Strategic Sustainability Consulting during 2020 and 2021 for the Foundation's annual carbon footprint report research.

Words from Wikimedia affiliates[edit]

See Wikimedia Affiliates Environmental Sustainability Covenant.

Facts from Wikimedia affiliates[edit]

Direct energy usage[edit]

In 2016, Wikimedia Italia was the first known Wikimedia entity to switch to 100 % renewable electricity usage for its office. See Wikimedia offices for more information.

Carbon divestment[edit]

In 2018, Wikimedia Italia was the known first Wikimedia entity to adopt a sustainable financial investment policy. Implementation started in 2019 and was reversed by a new board in January 2021 (information not yet official pending up to date financial reports).

Scope 3 emissions[edit]

Little information is available on scope 3 emissions caused by chapter activities.

Chapter meetings are often arranged to maximise the usage of public transportation, but some geographies are more challenging than others. Local work, such as photo documentation of remote places, may necessarily entail some level of fossil-powered travel.

Value-driven tooling can improve sustainability even while keeping activities largely the same. Some Wikimedia entities give priority to efficient free software and reused hardware to decrease power usage from the participants' devices.

Other agenda 2030 work[edit]

In 2017, Wikimedia Italia started its work with Asvis on Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on goal 17 through the increase of open data.

See also[edit]

Community-led efforts[edit]

Foundation-led efforts[edit]