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The World Economic Forum made no statement saying the Maui wildfires were orchestrated.
The cause of the wildfires has not been identified, but authorities have pointed to dry conditions, low humidity and high winds as contributing factors. The island’s aging electric power infrastructure is also under scrutiny.
There is no evidence the disaster was an intentional effort to build a 15-minute city in Maui.
Is there proof that the World Economic Forum is behind the wildfires that devastated the island of Maui? Did the organization itself admit to it? No, but a video circulating on Facebook said otherwise.
"WEF Admits Maui Wildfires Orchestrated To Transform Hawaii Into 15 Minute Cities," read the headline on a video posted on Facebook Aug. 19.
In the video, a man speaking into a camera says, "The fake Maui wildfires were orchestrated by the globalist elite to poison our air, water and soil and redistribute property into the hands of the elite."
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The video did not show any evidence of the World Economic Forum "admitting" that the wildfires in Maui were orchestrated. The World Economic Forum is a Switzerland-based organization that brings together world business and political leaders annually in Davos to discuss global issues. There are no such statements on the organization’s website or social media accounts. The only mention of the Maui wildfires found on its website was an Aug. 14 update on the death toll.
The video showed a screenshot of a World Economic Forum article published Aug. 20, 2018, titled, "How Hawaii plans to be the first US state to run entirely on clean energy." It said that Maui’s former mayor was one of four mayors across the state to sign an agreement to operate Hawaii’s public transport system using only clean energy by 2045.
It has nothing to do with a so-called "15-minute city," an urban planning concept that has been the target of conspiracy theories falsely alleging they are government plots to control citizens. But the idea behind the concept is to design cities so that residents’ basic needs can be met within a short walk or bike ride from their homes. Some proponents use the same concept but refer to it as a 20-minute city.
PolitiFact and other fact-checkers have looked into numerous claims that suggest the wildfires were orchestrated to pave the way for such a plan on Maui, and there is no evidence any of them are true.
The cause of the wildfires has not been identified, but the Hawaii Army National Guard pointed to dry conditions, low humidity and high winds as contributing factors. Investigators are also increasingly focused on the role the island’s aging electric power infrastructure played in the disaster.
We rate the claim that the World Economic Forum admitted that the Maui wildfires were orchestrated False.
World Economic Forum, How Hawaii plans to be the first US state to run entirely on clean energy, Aug. 20, 2018
World Economic Forum, Annual hole in ozone layer a threat to Antarctic sea ice, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week, Aug. 14, 2023
TED, The 15-minute city, October 2020
The New York Times, The 15-Minute City: Where Urban Planning Meets Conspiracy Theories, March 1, 2023
PolitiFact, Claim twists U.N. resolution, smart city concept and the Ohio train derailment into baseless plot, Feb. 24, 2023
American Planning Association, Meet the 15-Minute City’s Cousin: The 20-Minute Suburb, Jan. 26, 2023
Associated Press, Conspiracy theories falsely tie Maui wildfires to ‘smart cities’ and tech conferences, Aug. 16, 2023
PolitiFact, No, Hawaii fires weren’t set intentionally to turn Maui into a ‘smart island’, Aug. 14, 2023
Associated Press, Hawaii’s governor did not tell reporters he wants to make Lahaina a ‘smart city.’ Aug. 18, 2023
USA Today, No, Maui fires not linked to energy weapons, AI, smart cities, weather modification | Fact check, Aug. 17, 2023
CBS News, How did the Maui fire start? What we know about the cause of the Lahaina blaze, Aug. 17, 2023
The New York Times, Hawaiian Electric Was Warned of Its System’s Fragility Before Wildfire, Aug. 19, 2023
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