“I am changing ship but not fleet”

Story from the life of Andreas Schriber, Biovision CEO, Zurich

From Peter Lüthi, Biovision

In Madagascar, they called him a “courant d’air” (a breath of fresh air). That was in 1991 when Andreas Schriber was working for the WWF in Anantanarivo training local editors of VINTSY – a magazine on ecology and forest conservation. Both then and now, Schriber’s nickname matches his personality.

The inquisitive young man from the Zurich suburbs completed an apprenticeship as a typesetter and then trained as a journalist. This allowed him to combine both his talents – design and writing. After several years collecting experience, travelling and working as an editor and photographer in Zurich and Montreux, Schriber’s career took a decisive turn in 1984: He joined WWF Switzerland in Zurich, producing their publications. The heated debates on forest dieback, atomic power and genetic engineering honed his flair for communication and politics. At that time, he also discovered his love of Africa.

After years of commitment to conservation, he fulfilled a personal dream and sailed on an old two-master from the Caribbean to the South Pacific and French Polynesia. Later he married, fathered a son and moved back to Swiss Television as a science editor on the programme “Menschen Technik Wissenschaft”. Whilst there he made a film about Hans Rudolf Herren, the first Swiss recipient of the World Food Prize. It was a meeting of two visionaries who got on well and shared similar ideals. Together they developed the idea of an organisation committed to improving people’s lives and at the same time protecting the environment. In 1998, they together with two other kindred spirits founded Biovision.

In 2003, Schriber became the CEO of the young organisation and so it was that an energetic, inspired and far-sighted pioneer became the head of the Foundation for Ecological Development. True to his motto, “Action not words”, he has been at the helm of Biovision since then working tirelessly, unerringly and displaying a finely tuned feel for innovation. “Biovision fills important gaps at the interface of environment protection and cooperation and development; we break new ground and create added value for all those involved,” he says.

Schriber has the gift of anticipating important developments and selecting the right course of action early. If he is convinced that an idea is right, he focusses his attention on that goal with great efficiency and is unstoppable. With him at the helm, he has developed the Foundation into a respected organization.

Today, Biovision is on a firm footing thanks to great support from donors and strong partners; an ideal time for the captain to check the wind and adjust the sails. So, in 2020 Andi Schriber will re-focus his activities to further develop the Biovision Africa Trust, our sister organisation in East Africa where he now serves as member of the Board. In so doing he will make space for the next generation to move into the management team of Biovision in Zurich. “I am changing ship but staying with the fleet,” he says with a smile.

*This text first appeared in the March issue of our print newsletter (page 6)