Bern, May 21, 2019, SDSN Switzerland hosted a Conference entitled “The Sustainability Transformation: A Joint Task for Our Society” with the aim of triggering local debate around sustainable development in Switzerland and inspiring calls to action to accelerate the sustainable development transition in the region. The target audience was policymakers, scientists, civil society representatives, politicians, government workers, entrepreneur, artists, activists, spiritual leaders, etc. and those willing to delve into important issues that could champion sustainable initiatives and actions to support SDG transformation in Switzerland. The conference focused on several SDG priorities in key areas such as education, research and innovation, international cooperation, and the upcoming federal elections in 2019.

Learning Journeys

The one-day event adopted an innovative approach to foster deep discussions around local SDG challenges by hosting Learning Journeys for its participants around the capital in the first half of the day to explore different industries and social issues in Switzerland and analyse their respective sustainable development challenges. This style of event calls on participants to move into unfamiliar environments, immerse themselves in different contexts, and step into relevant experiences to help broaden their thinking and generate new ideas around specific SDG related questions. The aim of these journeys was for participants to craft specific calls to action based on their impressions from the morning’s learnings for Swiss society to take on and use to shape future action plans for the SDGs in Switzerland.

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The following “Calls to Action” were defined by the six groups:

  • Sustainable Textiles: Through our purchasing choices, we can influence business practices. We invite government initiatives for local production, business model experimentation and transparency of environmental and social impacts.
  • Mobility Digitalization, ecology and sharing: Change mobility instead of promoting it.
  • Migration and inclusion: We invite you to be a bridge builder, to share your comfort zone and to seek exchange; from politics, we demand resources and focus on promoting the positive.
  • Gender Diversity in Swiss Politics: Create new narratives and prototypes, inside and out, to create an inclusive and representative society
  • Social sustainability in neighbourhood development: Settlements and quarters are focal points of the sustainability transformation. That is why we want to make sustainable forms of housing and living together in such neighbourhoods a tangible experience. Close to everyday life and low-threshold.
  • Healthy + sustainable nutrition: Let us be role models together and create spaces for conscious nutrition full of pleasure!

Conference Plenary

During the afternoon, the conference plenary gathered all participants and showcased the “calls to action” for the specific industries that were visited during the morning’s Learning Journeys. SDSN Switzerland also presented its most recent publication, Overcoming Silos: Structuring Coherent Policy (available in German and French) which aims to highlight the importance of positively reinforcing interactions among the SDGs for a sustainable approach to development in Switzerland.

Following the presentations, Dirk Messner, Director of the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University (UNUEHS) gave an inspiring Keynote speech on  “10 theses on the (im)possibility of the great transformation towards sustainable development.

Thereafter, the organisers invited Dirk Messner; Franziska Barmettler, Head of Sustainability at IKEA Switzerland; Jacqueline de Quattro, State Councilor of the Canton of Vaud, Head of the Department of Territory and Environment (DTE); Daniel Dubas, Delegate of the Federal Council for the 2030 Agenda at Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE for a panel discussion to discuss and share ideas on how stakeholders in Switzerland can collaborate more successfully towards the sustainable future of Switzerland.

The conference closed with thoughtful remarks from SDSN Switzerland’s co-chairs Ocèan Dayer and Urs Wiesman.