Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)


News archive 2013

family farming

Mountain Farming is Family Farming

The UN has declared 2014 to be the International Year of Family Farming. In observance of this, the FAO Mountain Partnership Secretariat, CDE, and other Mountain Partnership members have put together a publication featuring 25 case studies on diverse mountain landscapes. It provides an overview of the global changes affecting mountain farming communities and the strategies that they have developed to cope. More information


New online database of partner institutions for transboundary research

KFPE and the International Graduate School North-South have just launched an online database of research institutions that have experience working as transboundary research partners with Swiss research centres and others in countries of the global South and East. The database is a valuable resource for researchers who are seeking suitable research partners or wish to find institutions that possess key information or expertise. More information


‘Bernese Prize for Environmental Research’ awarded

The “Bernese Prize for Environmental Research” promotes research in the fields of ecology and environmental science. The 2013 prize went to Dr. Antoni Margalida for his superb dissertation on the population of Bearded Vultures in Europe. A special recognition prize  went to Ms. Iris Staubesand for her master’s thesis on organic farming in Switzerland. More information

MRD 33-4

Mountain Research and Development, Vol 33, No 4

This issue introduces MRD’s new, fully peer-reviewed MountainAgenda section. Articles present agendas for research on alpine ecology, sustainable land management, and glacier retreat, as well as policy on cardamom processing. Further articles explore people’s reasons for moving to hazard-prone zones along a new road, sociodevelopmental impacts of landslides, factors affecting land productivity and agricultural production, a farmland rental market in Vietnam, and a method to assess precipitation. More information

Wocat films

New videos on sustainable land management

WOCAT produces short videos in which land users personally describe and demonstrate their practices of sustainable land management (SLM). Fusing scientific expertise and farmers’ local knowledge, the videos help land users, technical staff, agricultural advisors, planners, and policymakers understand the benefits of particular SLM practices – for example, to adapt to climate change. The video “Building Resilience – People with Greener Land” , funded by SDC, was recently screened in New York at a UN General Assembly Special Session on Water and Disasters, attended by the Swiss Delegation to the UN. More information

Rohstoffabbau Peru

Mining and social conflicts in Peru: The role and the responsibility of transnational mining companies

Can mining by transnational companies be part of a sustainable development? Why do social conflicts seem to be inseparably linked to mining? What are the responsibilities of international mining companies based in Switzerland? These are the central questions that José de Echave, former Deputy Minister of the Environment in Peru and founder of the NGO CooperAcción, will explore at an event jointly organised by MultiWatch, InfoE, and CDE. More information


Switzerland and Austria join forces to promote global sustainable development in mountain regions

Switzerland and Austria intend to step up their cooperation to share their experience in the sustainable development of mountain regions with as many people living in mountain regions around the world as possible. They want to raise political leaders' awareness of the specific needs of mountain regions. More information


Reducing poverty – increasing disparities?

Join the IGS thematic training module from 13 to 15 November 2013! There are still places available. We will map out selected dynamics of disparities in today’s world, identify important indicators of poverty and uneven development, and work with tools and instruments to measure poverty and unequal development. More information

Rubber plantation Laos

Large-scale land acquisitions in the Global South: land grabs or investments in the future?

At the next forum of the Network for Socially Responsible Business, CDE Director Peter Messerli will outline the current state of knowledge about land acquisitions in the Global South, illustrating the issues with examples from individual countries. More information

Food democracy

Who decides what’s on our plate? Finding ways to democratise food systems

Democratic participation is a crucial precondition for combatting hunger sustainably. In a panel discussion on Wednesday, 20 November 2013, right-to-food pioneer Frances Moore Lappé and Jean Feyder, former ambassador and permanent representative of Luxembourg to the UN and WTO, will discuss ways of finding and implementing sustainable solutions to hunger together with representatives of Swiss farmers, consumers, scientists, and the general public. More information

illicit financial flows

Illicit financial flows: Challenges and policy options for Swiss Development Cooperation

At a debate on 6 November 2013, Janvier Nkurunziza, Head of UNCTAD’s Commodity Research and Analysis Section, Kjetil Hansen, Governance Advisor at OECD, Elisabeth Bürgi Bonanomi of CDE and WTI, University of Bern, and Georges Zecchin, formerly Magistrate of the Canton of Geneva and currently Chief Executive of Crédit Agricole Suisse will examine challenges, concepts, and policy options related to illicit financial flows for OECD countries including Switzerland, from a development policy perspective. More information

Cocoa Farmer

Organic cocoa production enhances smallholders' resilience

Cocoa production is a major source of income for many farming families in Alto Beni, Bolivia. But it is also very vulnerable to threats such as soil degradation, flooding, pests, and plant diseases. Farming systems that are more resilient to such threats are thus crucial for sustainable development in the region. CDE researchers and their project partners examined key indicators of social-ecological resilience on certified-organic and non-certified cocoa farms. More information

Award Td

Award for research that includes society

On 21 October 2013, the Swiss Network for Transdisciplinary Research presented the “swiss-academies award for transdisciplinary research”. The award carries cash prizes in several categories worth a total of 75,000 Swiss francs. The prize for a “life-time achievement” was awarded to Professors Hans Hurni and Urs Wiesmann of CDE. More information


Switzerland and the post-2015 development agenda

What are the opportunities, challenges, and risks of the post-2015 development agenda, and what is Switzerland’s role in developing and eventually in implementing it? Michael Gerber, Swiss Ambassador and Special Representative for Global Sustainable Development Post-2015, Nicole Werner of Alliance Sud, and Peter Messerli of CDE will discuss the agenda’s aims and potential, its inherent challenges, and its significance for Switzerland. More information

sharing geo spatial data

Sharing geospatial data in interdisciplinary and international collaboration

Use of geospatial data enables analysis and visualisation of spatiotemporal interactions, benefitting science and projects on the ground. Proper management of geospatial data is critical, especially in interdisciplinary, international collaborations. From 31 October to 2 November 2013, the University of Bern is holding a workshop on geospatial data exchange, metadata tools, and archiving facilities. More information

MRD 33_3

Mountain Research and Development Vol 33 No 3: Water Governance in Mountains

This focus issue of MRD contributes to the International Year of Water Cooperation. Papers examine access to water, collaborative transboundary water management, adaptive capacities of water governance arrangements, effective transdisciplinary knowledge production processes, governance of different irrigation systems, and collaborative governance of wetlands, as well as other topics relevant to sustainable mountain development. More information


Conference: “Land Rush or Development Through Investment?”

Large-scale international land investment in Africa has recently attracted a lot of attention. Many observers describe a new “land rush”, while others perceive opportunities for Africa’s economic development. Together with the Institute of Social Anthropology and CDE, the Swiss Society for African Studies is holding a conference on Friday, 11 October 2013, at the University of Bern, where experts will debate the pros and cons of such investment. More information

Recht auf Wasser

The Right to Water – A Cornerstone of Sustainable Development

Since 2010, the United Nations has recognised access to clean water as a human right. Appropriate management of water as a key natural resource is crucial for sustainable development. The University of Bern is holding an event on Wednesday, 18 September 2013, to contribute to the public discourse on this important topic. More information

Jahresbericht 2012

Read CDE’s Annual Report 2012

CDE’s annual report 2012 is now available for download. Besides providing an overview of CDE’s activities last year, the report spotlights the topic of governance of natural resources, in particular land governance. By improving our understanding of the factors behind land depletion and identifying innovative responses to it, CDE seeks to find ways of changing existing governance regimes in line with the principles of sustainability. More information

Research Peru

A research and practice exchange in Peru

In collaboration with CDE, the Peruvian Ministry of Environment and the Department for National Protected Areas recently presented research results and recommendations for practice related to more sustainable use of natural resources in the Andean and Amazonian region in Peru and Bolivia. The research findings result from work conducted within the framework of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South. More information


Call for papers on "Family Farming in Mountains: Institutional and Organizational Arrangements in the Context of Globalization"

Mountain Research and Development (MRD) is seeking policy- and practice-oriented, well-validated insights into effective arrangements for advancing and enhancing family farms. MRD is also calling for sound analyses of organizational aspects of family farming in the political, economic, and environmental mountain context. Abstracts are due by 15 August 2013, invited full papers by 31 January 2014. More information


Map of erosion risks in Swiss agricultural areas

Together with the research institute Agroscope, CDE has created a map of Swiss agricultural soils that may be vulnerable to erosion. The map was commissioned by the Federal Office for Agriculture and is intended to support agriculturalists in the sustainable, location-appropriate management of soils. The map is an important part of the guidelines for soil conservation in Swiss agriculture, recently published by the Federal Office for the Environment. More information


TV debate: Controversial commodities trading

Whether involving crude oil or grain, Switzerland is an important hub in the trade of commodities. But there is growing criticism of the companies linked to such trading. Professor of criminal law Mark Pieth and agronomist and geographer Stephan Rist discussed the issues with Norbert Bischofberger on the Swiss TV programme “Sternstunde Philosophie” on Sunday, 23 June. More information

Decide Info

New online information platform to support integrated development planning in Lao PDR

Together with the Swiss government, Lao PDR’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and its Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment have jointly launched a new inter-ministerial online information platform under the Lao DECIDE info initiative www.decide.la. The platform integrates and disseminates official data and information from across thematic sectors in an unprecedented level of detail. More information


Rubber plantation Laos

Land Matrix partnership launches second phase of its Global Observatory on large-scale land acquisitions

The Land Matrix partnership has just kicked off the second phase of its Global Observatory on large-scale land acquisitions. Its improved tool further promotes transparency and supports open-data and open-source communities focused on land deals. The thoroughly updated dataset enables tracking of large-scale land acquisitions, from negotiation of deals to implementation. More information

Mountain Research and Development, Volume 33, Issue 2

This issue of MRD examines stakeholder analysis to enhance integrated water management; communication processes for livestock extension measures; the complexity of climate change projections; social perceptions and people’s preferences with regard to forest management; burning as an effective method to restore meadows; and vegetation patterns and species diversity in a mountain reserve. Read more

Research partnerships with the global South – A paradigm shift for Swiss research policy and development cooperation?

The CDE-hosted Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South held a forum for policy and research in Bern on 4 June 2013. The event showcased highlights from the 12-year research programme and gave representatives from policy, development, and research an opportunity to discuss the role and potential of research networks in promoting sustainable development in the global South. Read more

Unequal encounters? The dynamics of cultural difference in Latin America

Prof. Dr. Mark Millington, University of Nottingham, will hold a public lecture on this topic on 23 May 2013, 4:15 pm at the University of Bern, Hallerstrasse 6, Room 205. Millington will examine responses to and theories about intercultural relations within Latin America, as well as between Latin America and the United States and Europe. The highly contrasting positions that characterise these relations include hostility towards indigenous cultures; defensive nationalism to counter US influence; and advocacy for indigenous cultures. Read more

Available fall semester 2013: Minor in Sustainable Development

Details on CDE’s Minor in Sustainable Development (bachelor’s level) are now available online. The offerings are gradually being expanded. Check the website for regular updates. Currently, 15-, 30-, and 60-ECTS credit programmes are offered. This course of studies replaces the bachelor’s-level Minor in General Ecology. Read more

Film and discussion: Stealing Africa

The film “Stealing Africa” looks at the case of the Mopani copper mines in Zambia, owned by Switzerland-based Glencore. Four panelists from the media, academia (including CDE), and public administration will be on hand to discuss the film after a screening on 8 May 2013 at the Kino Kunstmuseum in Bern. The film explores issues of company taxation, transfer pricing in extractive industries, and development. Read more

Stakeholder workshop: The Right to Food

A workshop with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, taking place 11 April 2013, 1:00 pm to 5:40 pm, at the World Trade Institute (WTI), Silva Casa Auditorium, Hallerstrasse 6, Bern. Six scientists from the WTI and CDE will debate with Olivier de Schutter on food policy issues. The event is already fully booked. However, unregistered attendees may watch a simultaneous broadcast of the proceedings in a room next door to the auditorium.​

Interview: “Our forests are not for sale” – the development of alternative climate change policies in Bolivia

For the past two years, Dr. Rene Orellana acted as chief negotiator at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on behalf of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. What are the cornerstones of Bolivia’s strategy for addressing climate change? Read this special interview between Dr. Stephan Rist (CDE) and Dr. Rene Orellana, Ambassador Ad Honorem of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, on negotiating environmental and development issues with the UN and similar organisations. Read more

Research Fair: Results and Innovations from Transnational Research Partnerships

The Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE) will be holding a research fair on “Results and Innovations from Transnational Research Partnerships” on 5 June 2013 in Bern. The fair will promote mutual learning by bringing together researchers and practitioners involved in international cooperation to present, share, and discuss promising and innovative results, processes, and products from research partnerships with developing countries. A wide range of academic disciplines will be represented. Read more

Call for papers on "Gender and Sustainable Development in Mountains-Innovative Transformations, Tenacious Resistances"

Mountain Research and Development (MRD) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) invite well-validated and sound analyses of approaches to and conditions for initiating gender-positive transformation in mountain environments. Abstracts are due by 15 April 2013, full papers by 1 September 2013. Read more

High-level meeting on national drought policy (HMNDP)

Taking place 11–15 March 2013 at Geneva’s International Conference Centre (CICG), this meeting will provide insights into practical, science-based strategies for addressing and coping with drought being considered by governments and the private sector under the UNCCD. Creation of more drought-resilient societies is the ultimate goal. It will open with a plenary session, proceed with three days of scientific discussion, and close with a high-level session for ministers. On Wednesday 13 March, CDE’s WOCAT network will hold a side event titled “Towards more drought resilience: Reducing human-made drought – tapping existing knowledge”. Read more

Lecture: The Bolivian Strategy of Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation​​

A presentation held on 26 February 2013 by Rene Orellana, Ambassador and Chief Negotiator of the Plurinational State of Bolivia at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Ambassador Orellana presented the process and outcomes of a Bolivian initiative for non-market based approaches to enable alternative policy frameworks and positive incentives that go beyond REDD+. He outlined the alternative policy of the Joint Mitigation and Adaptation (JMA) Mechanism for the Integral and Sustainable Management of Forests, based on the framework Law of the Rights of Mother Earth. Read more

Swiss Conference on Inter- and Transdisciplinarity

Taking place on 7 June 2013 and now accepting contribution proposals, this Swiss conference on inter- and transdisciplinarity is jointly organised by td-net and the Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch (IUKB). It seeks to foster exchange on the challenges of inter- and transdisciplinary teaching and research. Conducted mainly in German and French, it brings together various Swiss initiatives across the linguistic divide. It is the central element of the "networking project". Read more

CDE project approved within National Research Programme "Sustainable Use of Soil as a Resource" (NRP 68)

“Sustainable soil governance and large-scale land acquisitions originating in Switzerland” is the title of a joint research project by CDE, the World Trade Institute (WTI), and Agroscope (Federal Research Station) that was approved by the Swiss National Science Foundation. One of 19 such projects to be approved, it is led by PD Dr. Stephan Rist (CDE), Prof. Dr. Thomas Cottier (WTI), and Dr. Stefan Mann (Agroscope). Read more

Conference: Guidelines on Landscape Values

Various experts will discuss landscape values from legal, educational, and political perspectives and present new guidelines on landscape values at this conference, taking place on 15 February 2013 at the University of Bern. The new guidelines are aimed at community- and cantonal-level planners, builders, designers, lawyers, and NGOs. They include two checklists of assessment criteria. Read more

Workshop proceedings available: Landless Mobile Pastoralists – Securing their role as custodians of northern Pakistan’s mountains

A gathering of all key stakeholders met at the National Agricultural Research Centre with mobile herders to address the issues of Ajars in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. This workshop on landless mobile pastoralists, held in Islamabad, 24 to 26 April 2012, produced several breakthroughs on behalf of the Ajars, who act as important custodians of mountain ecosystems and contribute significantly to the livestock economy in Pakistan. Read more

Mountain Research and Development, Volume 32, Issue 4

This Open Issue of MRD offers insights into socially sustainable REDD+, actor–landscape relations, solar greenhouses for food security, community-based tourism, and climate impacts on snowfall in ski areas as well as on spring discharge. The MountainNotes section offers three reviews of research on climate change impacts on hydrology, regional climate, and human health in the Hindu Kush–Himalayas. Read more