The Swiss-based materials research institute Empa, part of the prestigious ETH Domain, has with much success organised international conferences on recycling and re-use of resources since 1995, the socalled “R”series (R’93, R’95 etc). R referred to reduce, reuse and recycle. In 2009 Empa together with the Factor 10 Institute decided to broaden the scope of the conferences to include the full life-cycle of products and services. And so the series of conferences became the World Resources Forum, which has been attracting increasing numbers of high-level politicians,business leaders, NGO’s and scientists from all over the world ever since.
In 2009 the WRF Conference was organised in Davos, Switzerland, back to back with the R’09 Twin World Congress on Resource Management and Technology for Material and Energy Efficiency.
The R’ Conferences got entirely integrated into the WRF and in 2011 the enlarged WRF Conference took place again in Davos from September 19-21, 2011.
The spin-off of the Secretariat from Empa and inauguration of the independent WRF Association took place on March 16, 2012 in St. Gallen, Switzerland, with support from governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as the private sector. Bas de Leeuw (former UNEP) became its first Managing Director, and Xaver Edelmann (former EMPA) its first President.
In 2012, the main annual event of the World Resources Forum (WRF) was held in Beijing, China, organised together with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, from October 21-23, 2012. The event gathered more than 700 participants from over 40 countries at the China National Convention Center.
In October 2013, the fourth World Resources Forum was organised again in Davos, Switzerland.
The first ever WRF in Latin America took place in Arequipa, Peru, October 19-22, 2014, and attracted over 1,000 participants.