Vision, mission and values


We envision science as engaged and transformative: as having the power to spark substantial transformations towards sustainable development. We see these transformations unfolding within our generation and having the scope, speed, and scale needed to meet the global challenges we face. As a research centre that pushes the frontiers of science, CDE is considered a highly credible academic institution and a role model in the field of research for sustainable development within Switzerland and beyond.

Mission and goal

We strive to take the lead in doing and promoting science that is engaged and transformative. This means upholding highest standards of scientific excellence, while also taking into account the limits of science. Building on empirical evidence and illuminative theories, we offer knowledge that informs and guides sustainable development in different regions around the world and at multiple scales. Our commitment is to advance innovative approaches in research and education that are appropriate for transforming highly complex sustainability problems into widely supported pathways towards sustainable development. For this purpose, we engage in social learning and co-production of knowledge in several world regions, invest in long-term partnerships, and connect local realities to global debates.


We adhere to the principles of human rights, social and cultural justice, and inter- and intra-generational equity while accounting for the ecological boundaries of our planet. We support and develop capacity through equal partnerships and intercultural respect. As an interdisciplinary research centre, we build on the commitment and specific capacity of all partners, and we believe in the added value created by trust-based collaboration, transparent information, and mutual learning.