Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)


News archive 2016

ICRD 2017

Call for Sessions – ICRD, 5–8 September 2017

The 4th International Conference on Research for Development (ICRD) will convene in Bern, Switzerland, 5–8 September 2017, under the umbrella theme “Evidence. Engagement. Policies.” The conference seeks visionary contributions that will enhance transformations towards sustainable development in countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Conference contributions should facilitate knowledge stewardship in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and should improve our understanding of how evidence can support policies for sustainable development. More information


Mountain Research and Development, Vol 36, No 4: Mountains of Our Future Earth—Perth 2015

Papers emerged from the 2015 Perth III mountain conference and contribute to Future Earth. The first 3 present a tool to compare mountain photos, gender-sensitive participatory agroforestry, and social impact assessment; others explore seedling regeneration, ecosystem services, visitors’ use of energy, in-migration dynamics, environmental impacts of migration, and farmers’ decision-making. The last 3 are review-based agendas for future mountain research. More information

cas sustainable development

Rethink things.CAS Sustainable Development

Sustainability is a big promise – the offer of a good life, now and in the future. Do you want to help rethink things and contribute to sustainable development? The CAS Sustainable Development provides an introduction to various fields of action and supports practical implementation. More information

sustainable land management

Making sense of research for sustainable land management

This book describes land management practices investigated by researchers in 12 projects around the world within the German research programme “Sustainable Land Management”. Among other things, researchers analysed the interplay between land use, climate change, biodiversity loss, population growth, globalization, and urbanization. It is a joint publication of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and CDE. More information

Policy Brief

Shifting water demands onto the vulnerable? Water impacts of agricultural trade and investment

12 December 2016
Worldwide, people’s water uses contribute to an increasingly complex web of “virtual” water flows implied in agricultural production, trade, and investment. This policy brief examines key issues, with a particular focus on the water risks of market-driven agricultural investment in developing countries. More information

Agruco, Award

Agruco and CDE receive Bolivian science and technology award

07 December 2016
Bolivia’s Ministry of Education has awarded Freddy Delgado, Director of the Centre for Agroecology (Agruco) in Cochabamba, Stephan Rist (CDE), and Johanna Jacobi (CDE) this year’s Science and Technology Prize in the category “Local Knowledge”. The award is for their book contribution “Ciencias, diálogo de saberes y transdisciplinariedad. Aportes teórico metodológicos para la sustentabilidad alimentaria y el desarrollo”. The article deals with reorienting science in the area of food sustainability on behalf of a “dialog of knowledge” between Western science and traditional knowledge in the Andes.


A transnational networking platform linking the solidarity economy and organic farming

Combining the solidarity economy with organic farming is one possible strategy to make development in the food sector more sustainable. A project at CDE aims to analyse the links between the two and promote knowledge transfer between practitioners, policymakers, and researchers concerned with organic farming and the solidarity economy. For this purpose, the project has launched a transnational networking platform that brings together 28 organizations from five European countries. More information

climate change adaptation

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies – An Upstream-downstream Perspective

Climate change and the related adverse impacts are among the greatest challenges facing humankind during the coming decades. Even with a significant reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, it will be inevitable for societies to adapt to new climatic conditions and associated impacts and risks. This book offers insights to first experiences of developing and implementing adaptation measures, with a particular focus on mountain environments and the adjacent downstream areas. More information

UNESCO World Heritage Site Jungfrau Aletsch

Changes in the UNESCO World Heritage Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch

The Publications “Insight and Outlook” document the changes in the UNESCO World Heritage Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch. The latest editions highlight Alpine habitats and biodiversity in the World Heritage region. More information

Sustainable agicultural imports

Sustainable agricultural imports to Switzerland?

The Swiss Green Party’s fair food initiative that Swiss citizens will be asked to vote on in the coming two years aims to increase the sustainability of food and feed imports to Switzerland. But should importing states be allowed to treat goods differently based on how they were produced? A study has investigated this question with respect to agricultural products. It shows how the measures proposed by the fair food initiative fit into the broader debate on a sustainable agricultural trade system, and how the initiative can be implemented in accordance with international law.

Global Land Programme

Third Open Science Meeting of the Global Land Programme

The Global Land Programme, one of Future Earth’s core projects, has held the third of its biennial open science meetings. In response to the recently endorsed Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the meeting focused on “Land system science: understanding realities and developing solutions”. Close to 700 participants discussed social-ecological interactions around land use, bridging disciplines and different levels of scale.

Director CDE

New Associate Professor at CDE

CDE Director Thomas Breu has been promoted to Associate Professor of the Faculty of Science by the University Directorate, effective 1 November 2016. We warmly congratulate Thomas Breu for this achievement!

Film: Dodhar – the dilemma

This new film explores outmigration, feminization, and land management in mountainous rural villages of western Nepal. It shows how outmigration affects migrants, their mothers, wives, and children as well as consequences for village life, local agriculture, and the environment. The film is based on the Swiss Network for International Studies-funded project “Sustainable Land Management in Mountain Regions of Bolivia and Nepal in the Context of Outmigration, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Reduction”.

CAS Sustainable Development – Reduction of participation fees

Those wishing to contribute to sustainable development need to have a solid knowledge basis and space for reflection. Do you have an interest in extra-occupational training with an inter- and transdisciplinary approach, belong to the University of Bern, and have a university degree? If so, you are eligible to benefit from a reduction in the participation fees of CHF 2,300 as part of the University of Bern’s Strategy 2021 implementation. Apply quickly; the first three applications will be considered. More information

Energy consumption

Good intentions, big footprints: Facing household energy use in rich countries

Scientists agree that emission of CO2 by burning fossil fuels is altering our climate. The risks of maintaining this carbon-burning trajectory – including sea level rise, extreme weather events, population displacements, and resource conflicts – make it imperative to change course. This means drastically reducing our dependence on fossil fuel-based energy as quickly as possible. Households account for a large share of CO2 emissions, especially in rich, consumption-driven economies. But which households consume the most energy and how could their carbon footprints be reduced? More information

land matrix report

New report by the Land Matrix initiative takes stock of situation

Around the world, 26.7 million hectares of agricultural land have been transferred into the hands of foreign investors since the year 2000. This means that these investors possess approximately 2 per cent of the arable land worldwide. This finding comes from a new report entitled Land Matrix Analytical Report II: International Land Deals for Agriculture, to be released today. The report provides detailed information on who is buying up farmland in which regions of the world and how this land is being used. It also highlights the economic, social, and political impacts of land grabs. More information

Berner Umweltforschungspreis

Call for applications: Bernese Award for Environmental Research 2017

The Bernese Award for Environmental Research aims to promote disciplinary and interdisciplinary research in environmental sciences and sustainability at the University of Bern. The prize money in 2017 totals CHF 15,000. The award, granted every two years, targets researchers whose work makes a relevant contribution to society or lays the foundations for a better understanding of environmental and sustainability problems and their solutions.

erle ellis, professor university of maryland

Professor Erle Ellis, expert on the Anthropocene, at CDE

Erle Ellis, Professor at the Department for Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is on leave for one year and visiting CDE. He is working with the Global Land Project and other partners on a research project that couples local and global data to enable new scientific workflows that accelerate global collaboration, data integration, and synthesis for global change research. Ellis is a leading theorist on the Anthropocene. His research investigates the ecology of anthropogenic landscapes at local to global scales with the aim of informing sustainable stewardship of the biosphere in the Anthropocene. More information

Mountain Research and Development

Mountain Research and Development, Vol 36, No 3, available online and open access

Papers analyze photovoltaic power generation in Tajikistan, new highlander entrepreneurs in Switzerland, farmers’ perceptions of farming in Norway, large-cardamom production in Sikkim, land use and land cover changes and grazing intensity in Nepal, swidden agriculture in Myanmar, plant species composition in Pakistan, forest assemblages in southwest China, pasture condition assessment in Kyrgyzstan, and knowledge for climate adaptation worldwide. More information


Conservation or agricultural development in Madagascar?

On the east coast of Madagascar, small-scale farmers’ push for land to grow rice and cash crops is causing loss of rainforest. International nature conservation organizations have long sought to protect these forests. But their aims differ from those of the local population, leading to conflict over what development in the region should actually entail. In her PhD study, CDE researcher Julie Zähringer analysed land changes and current demands for ecosystem services to create an evidence base for future negotiations. More information

Think global, teach local: Integrating education for Sustainable Development into your teaching

19.09.2016: The University of Bern aims to increasingly integrate the topic of Sustainable Development into its teaching, to better prepare students for global problems. In this course, teaching staff will address the interface between their own discipline and Sustainable Development, based on which they will develop innovative teaching and learning scenarios. The course is part of the CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) in Higher Education.

Socio-Economic Atlas of Kenya available online

The second, revised edition of the “Socio-Economic Atlas of Kenya: Depicting the National Population Census by County and Sub-Location” is now available free of charge for online viewing and downloading.
The Atlas is the first of its kind to offer high-resolution spatial depictions and analyses of data collected in the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census. More information


Sustainability Day of Bern’s Institutions of Higher Education

On 6 April 2017, Bern’s institutions of higher education – i.e. PHBern, the University of Bern, and the Bern University of Applied Sciences – will hold their first jointly organized Sustainability Day. Its theme will be “Sustainability3: Networking and Creating Synergies – Sustainability Day of Bern’s 3 Institutions of Higher Education”. Students, researchers, and staff of the three schools are kindly invited to present their sustainability project or to hold a workshop. More Information


Let’s go DanaLand

Have you ever wondered what a liveable future might look like and how we can continue to lead good lives while using fewer resources? The game “Let’s go DanaLand”, part of an interactive exhibit, enables visitors to learn more about sufficient lifestyles. It will be hosted by the Umwelt Arena in Spreitenbach from 1 September to 30 November 2016. Beginning in January 2017, the mobile exhibit will travel to different communities and schools.

wocat database

WOCAT launches new global database on sustainable land management

World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) – a global network dedicated to documenting and promoting sustainable land management – have revamped their global database on sustainable land management practices. The questionnaires for documenting the practices have been revised. The WOCAT database is advocated by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification as the primary recommended database for documenting best practices in sustainable land management.


Enough is enough: How a sufficient lifestyle leads to a good life

What is life like for people who strive to consume as few resources as possible and try to live sufficiently or modestly? What perspectives or values motivate them to live this way? What factors help them and what factors hinder them? Can a sufficient lifestyle lead to more life satisfaction and promote a good life? Learn more in the new book by CDE researchers: “Enough is Enough” (Genug genügt). More information in German

CDE datablog on Switzerland’s Dominance in the Commodities Trade

Switzerland has recently emerged as one of the world’s most important hubs in the global trade of commodities. But its rise has been accompanied by concerns about transparency, appropriate regulation, and risks to resource-exporting developing countries. What is the extent of Switzerland’s responsability? Could policy changes in Switzerland make the commodity sector more sustainable and its impact more mutually beneficial? More information

Sustainable Development Guidelines

“Integrating Sustainable Development into tertiary education”: Guidelines containing concepts, tools, examples, links, and teaching materials. The guidelines are aimed at teaching staff wishing to integrate the cross-cutting topic of Sustainable Development into university courses. They were created in collaboration with the Vice-Rectorate for Quality, University didactics, and iLUB of the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE).

Finance and its systemic risks: how can we create sustainable financial markets?

While the stock market celebrates record gains, in the real world the consequences of the last financial crisis have not yet been overcome. Promoting a sustainable development towards more stable financial markets: this is the topic by Marc Chesney, professor of finance known for his critical views, in the CAS Module, Finance and its systemic risks.

UN high-level science policy forum

Peter Messerli at the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

CDE Director Peter Messerli represented Swiss science at this year’s United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York. The Forum is expected to provide political leadership, guidance, and recommendations on implementation and follow-up of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. More information

CDE Annual Report 2015

In 2015, the global community established a new framework for financing global sustainable development in Addis Abeba, adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals in New York, and agreed on climate objectives in Paris. Achieving these goals will require equal efforts in politics, science, society, and the economy. We believe the main task of science consists in exploring and identifying pathways to these goals. Where are compromises required? Where is there room for manoeuvre? And what sorts of synergies are possible? In our CDE Annual Report 2015, we shed light on these questions using four examples in the areas of land use, migration, poverty reduction, and commodities trading. More Information

Transport and spatial development: Getting around sustainably

The way we get around and the way our built environment develops: these are things that don’t just “happen”. Current debates show that we can become more active in shaping these processes to ensure a sustainable and liveable future. Learn the necessary skills in our CAS Module "Transport and spatial development: Getting around sustainably"!

Mountain Research and Development

Mountain Research and Development, Vol 36, No 2

Papers address modernization and sustainable development, showing that some aspects of modernization can lead to sustainability – e.g. improved energy use in Europe, multilocal livelihoods in Pakistan, biosphere reserves in Europe, agrotourism in Thailand, or improved governance in Nepal. Further papers deal with carbon storage in Thailand, forest composition in China, stump debarking in the Czech Republic, treelines in the Andes, and hydropower energy storage in Europe. More information


Making the Commodity Sector Work for Developing Countries

Switzerland occupies an important position in the global trade of hard and soft commodities. Companies headquartered within its borders directly or indirectly shape commodity extraction practices around the world, some of which carry considerable negative environmental and social risks on the ground, particularly in fragile contexts. This factsheet examines these issues locally in developing countries – complementing a previous factsheet that focused on Switzerland’s role as a trading hub.

Module: Business sustainability – do business sustainably!

The future belongs to entrepreneurs who find answers to our current ecological, social, and economic challenges. How can global sustainability trends be integrated and employed in strategic business management? Learn the necessary skills in our CAS Module: Business sustainability – do business sustainably!

MRD 36 1

Mountain Research and Development, Vol 36, No 1, available online and open access

Papers offer insights into sustainability assessment of the built environment in China, community-based risk screening in Nepal, science communication for awareness raising in Ladakh, natural disturbances in Italian protection forests, grazing impacts in the Georgian Caucasus, climate and vegetation cover in Bhutan, sustainable land management trade-offs in Tajikistan, and applying Ostrom’s “design principles” in Kyrgyzstan and Kenya. More information

horticulture kenya

Commercial Horticulture in Kenya: Adapting to Water Scarcity

Commercial horticulture is Kenya’s second largest foreign exchange earner, exporting flowers and vegetables to Europe in particular. Other African countries seek to emulate this export-driven model. But its economic benefits must be weighed carefully against relevant social and environmental risks, including competition over precious water. More information

Land Matrix development

Land Matrix in the top 10 sources of data for international development research

Where should you go if you want reliable, detailed data on fragile states, land grabs or trade deals? The Land Matrix has been hailed as one of the Top 10 sources of data for international development research. More information

Agriculture and Water

Large-Scale Land Acquisition and Its Effects on the Water Balance in Investor and Host Countries

This study examines the validity of the assumption that international large-scale land acquisition (LSLA) is motivated by the desire to secure control over water resources. We analysed the effects of 475 intended or concluded land deals recorded in the Land Matrix database on the water balance in both host and investor countries. We also examine how these effects relate to water stress and how they contribute to global trade in virtual water. More information

Africa Partnership Programme

ESAPP: Highlights from 15 Years of Joint Action for Sustainable Development

The Eastern and Southern Africa Partnership Programme (ESAPP) was launched in 1999 and concluded in 2015. This publication summarizes experiences and knowledge gained from 15 years of partnership-based research and action in Africa. It presents 24 representative highlights selected from over 300 small-grant projects carried out in Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. More information


CDE hosts the GLP’s International Project Office

The Global Land Project is an interdisciplinary community of science and practice that promotes the study of land system changes as a cause, consequence, and solution to global change processes. As of January 2016 the GLP International Project Office is hosted by CDE. In this new role CDE is engaging with a variety of land-related programmes, networks, and stakeholders throughout the global environmental change community. More information

CDE Datablog Poverty and welfare in Kenya

CDE datablog on welfare, poverty and inequality in Kenya

Where in Kenya are most people poor, and where are the most poor people? Is Kenya’s richest county also the one with the greatest inequality? Check out the latest CDE datablog on welfare, poverty and inequality in Kenya. More information

MRD Call Mountains

Call for papers: Mountain Forests and the Sustainable Development Goals

Mountain forests provide key ecosystem services that are essential for achieving the SDGs. Mountain Research and Development is seeking papers that assess experiences of how to manage forests so that they can provide such services; that analyze the state of mountain forests; or that offer agendas for future research or policy in support of sustainable mountain forestry. Notices of intent are due by 1 April 2016, full papers by 25 June 2016. More information

commodity switzerland

Switzerland and the Commodities Trade

Switzerland has recently emerged as one of the world’s most important hubs in the global trade of commodities. This factsheet outlines key challenges, knowledge gaps, and research questions centring on Switzerland’s role and potential responsibility as a leading commodity hub. More information

investing in sustainable mountain develpment

Investing in Sustainable Mountain Development

Achieving the goals formulated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for future investments in mountain regions. This publication looks at investments from the perspective of sustainable development. It presents 19 case studies from mountain regions, covering efforts by diverse public and private actors, and ranging from examples of development investments to innovative financing mechanisms. More information

New professorship at CDE

The University of Bern has created a new professorship in sustainable development at the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) and has appointed Peter Messerli, Director of CDE, to the post. The new professorship at CDE is also affiliated to the university’s Institute of Geography. More information

master information day

Master’s open days, March 8th till 10th

Why don’t you become a master in your field? Get more information about the requirements, the potential focus and curriculum of your degree program at the info events.


university of bern

Workshops on integrating sustainable development into university teaching

Education for sustainable development has a high priority at the University of Bern. Any course of study can link up to the topic of sustainable development. Ways of doing this will be developed in a series of workshops entitled “Integrating Sustainable Development into University Teaching: Courses of Study at the University of Bern on Their Way to the Global Future”. More information

UN sustainable development solutions network

CDE is a member of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network

The Executive Committee of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has approved CDE’s membership in the Network. The organization aims to mobilize global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical problem solving for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More information

parks of europe

Parks of the Future

Climate change, declines in biodiversity, increasing consumption of resources, and urbanisation continue to challenge the regions of Europe. In response, there has been an unmistakeable boom in parks in Europe since the 1990s. In this new book, authors from all over Europe analyse and comment on experiences of tackling the challenges of regional and global change in parks. More information

mountain research and development

Mountain Research and Development, Vol 35

The first paper presents a participatory process implemented in North Korea. Next, modeling-based papers look at permafrost in China, forest cover change in Romania, and glacial lakes in the Himalaya. Further papers discuss a fog collection system in Eritrea, threatened plant species and wildlife conservation attitudes in India, and the need for high quality and reliable data in the Himalayas. More information