SDSN Switzerland Launches, Identifying SDG Catalysts

Switzerland Logo15 February 2018: The 25th Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has been launched. SDSN Switzerland is based in Bern, and co-hosted by the Centre for Development and Environment of the University of Bern, and Biovision – Foundation for Ecological Development.

SDSN Switzerland aims to provide an environment to discuss challenges faced by Switzerland in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on climate change, as well as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.

A conference to launch the Network took place on 15 February 2018, in Bern, and included plenary sessions on SDSN as a tool to build bridges and create solutions, making Switzerland sustainable, and Switzerland’s opportunities and responsibilities for a sustainable world. Breakout sessions utilized innovative formats, including “collective story harvesting,” to exchange experiences and ideas.

SDG-goals_Goal-12 Responsible Consumption & ProductionA keynote address was given by Bertrand Piccard, explorer and initiator of the Solar Impulse Foundation, which performed the first solar-powered flight around the world. Piccard highlighted the strength of the technology pull, but felt that the current legal framework is “completely outdated.” He suggested fixing this at the government level, starting with information.

Participants called for new business models that include circularity principles from the start.

During nine parallel breakout sessions, participants shared stories from which general lessons could be learned. Among other stories and conclusions, participants identified the need to: find new ways to accelerate transformation; adopt higher standards when it comes to personal finance, including investments; update the regulatory framework; and be more transparent in finance. Participants discussed the need for positive messages, for instance by talking about resilience rather than risk, and promoting the term “research agenda for a good life.” Education, incentives for sustainable consumer behaviors, and making use of lessons learned in marketing and campaigning on how to change mindsets on a larger scale, were also highlighted as important elements for changing mindsets. On a circular economy, participants stressed the need to approach circularity in a way that makes business sense, since progress is not possible without the commitment of industry, and called for new business models that include circularity principles from the start.SDG-goals_Goal-17 Partnerships For The Goals

Summarizing the day’s activities and discussions, SDSN Switzerland Co-Chair Urs Wiesmann praised participants’ personal commitment to sustainable development. He suggested that Switzerland use its reputation in diplomacy and its knowledge society to take a leadership role in promoting sustainable development. Wiesmann recommended four key directions for future actions: promoting science, improving inclusivity, being more experimental, and taking self-responsibility. [IISDRS meeting coverage] [Swiss Info Article]

References: International Institute for Sustainable Development. 2018. Retrieved from

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