”Exploit opportunities for sustainable development now”

How can Switzerland become sustainable in future? 250 decision-makers came together at the conference to launch SDSN Switzerland to develop tangible solutions.

At the launch of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) on 15 February 2018 in Bern, the two co-chairs, Océane Dayer from Swiss Youth for Climate and Urs Wiesmann, Emeritus Professor of the University of Bern stressed the following: “Agenda 2030 undoubtedly represents a major challenge but it also offers numerous opportunities and incentives to come up with innovative solutions that trigger genuinely sustainable development”. We should exploit these opportunities without delay. As an example, Dyer cited the revision of the CO2 .legislation.  She sought to embolden decision-makers, saying that “the priority during the revision process should be to exploit latent opportunities and not to be afraid of change”. Bertrand Piccard, pioneer and initiator of the Solar Impulse backed up her statement and referred to his flight around the world without using a single drop of fuel: “In principle, the technical solutions already exist but we are not yet exploiting them sufficiently“, said Piccard. Finally, Jacques Dubochet, Swiss Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry in his keynote speech called on his colleagues from the scientific community to come down from their ivory towers and tackle the challenges of our time. Professor Dubochet followed up his words with action, taking part in all elements of the conference and making active contributions to the various forums.

Learn from history

In order to develop new innovative solutions, we also need new types of cooperation and so for the conference, SDSN Switzerland working with trailblazers from the Swiss co-working scene Collaboratio Helvetica developed specific exchange formats. The aim was to mobilise the participants who came from very differing sectors and to encourage them to interact and network. Personal stories provided the launch pad, which the groups then used them to gain new insights. The topics ranged from sustainable finance, urban development through to social justice. The findings were then woven into tangible solutions and individual commitments.


  • Co-chairs of SDSN Switzerland Océane Dayer from Swiss Youth for Climate und Urs Wiesmann, Emeritus Professor of the University of Bern.
  • Left to right: Urs Wiesmann, Co-Chair SDSN Switzerland, Dr Katrin Muff Professor of Sustainability, Responsibility & Transformation and moderator at the SDSN Launch Conference, Bertrand Piccard, pioneer and founder of World Alliance for Efficient Solutions, Professor Jacques Dubochet, bio-physician and Nobel Prize Winner of Chemistry, Océane Dayer, co-chair SDSN Switzerland, Michael Bergöö, Secretary General SDSN Switzerland
  • Bertrand Piccard at the launch of SDSN Switzerland: “We must demonstrate that solutions exist that are better than the status quo.”
  • Jacques Dubochet, Swiss Nobel Prize Winner of Chemistry stressed in his speech that findings generated by the scientific community must also be applied in practice.
  • Some 250 participants from politics, industry, science, think-tanks and civil society attended the conference to launch the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Switzerland.
  • Often stories describe complicated issues better than presentations and so the Launch Conference adopted innovative forms of cooperation.

Switzerland is facing a challenge

“We also have a global responsibility,” stressed Urs Wiesmann. “In view of our own consumption and the associated use of resources abroad, we need much greater coordination between internal and external strategies”. SDSN Switzerland will start work on appropriate projects immediately, including a social lab for sustainable consumption and productions.

The Federal Council is required to submit a report by July 2018, indicating where and how Switzerland will deliver its contribution to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are the central plank of the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Biovision will encourage action by politicians, industry and society that is fair, just and based on solidarity. This will be achieved in part by the development of coalitions and partnerships and this was why Biovision and the CDE from the University of Bern came together to launch SDSN Switzerland.