Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)


News archive 2017


Adapting land use in drylands

How can we prevent ecosystem degradation in drylands? As part of an EU project, CDE researchers studied different types of land use and land management in southern Europe, as well as the role of these in preventing degradation. The researchers also developed best-practice guidelines focusing on three specific contexts: forest fire, land abandonment, and overgrazing. More information

Reimagine things: CAS Sustainable Development

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.

Where people and their land are safer

Where people and their land are safer

The devastating effects of natural hazards such as floods, droughts, or storms can be considerably reduced through sustainable land use. This is shown in the new CDE publication, “Where people and their land are safer – A compendium of good practices in Disaster Risk Reduction”, which was produced in cooperation with the global WOCAT programme and the Swiss NGO DRR platform. The book documents how risks can be reduced through relatively simple and inexpensive measures. It also demonstrates that sustainable farming creates socio-economic benefits for the population. More information

Mountain Research and Development; Call for Papers

Call for papers: Adaptation to Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Mountains

Mountains and mountain communities are critically affected by climate change. Mountain Research and Development (MRD) is looking for papers that assess novel adaptation practices and present well-researched insights into implications of climate change relevant to adaptation. Synthesis papers comparing case studies are of particular interest, as MRD aims to contribute to the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report as well as to inform development policies.

Deforestation Argentina

Indigenous Communities, Land Use and Tropical Deforestation in Argentina

CDE hosts a new research project that investigates the problem of deforestation in the Argentinean dry Chaco. The Chaco is experiencing one of the fastest deforestation rates in the world. It represents an important agricultural frontier and hosts significant ethnic and cultural diversity. The project is led by Assistant Professor Graziano Ceddia and funded through the European Research Council Consolidator Grant Scheme. It is scheduled to run from November 2016 to October 2021. More information

CDE Policy Brief 11

Enough is good enough: Sufficiency to curb resource overconsumption

This policy brief considers how practising a sufficient lifestyle may help to decrease resource consumption and enable a good life. More information

Mountain Research and Development; Call for Papers

Call for papers: Food security and sustainable development in mountains

Food security is a key concern for sustainable development in mountain areas. Mountain Research and Development is looking for papers that present validated insights into development solutions for reducing malnutrition and increasing food security for mountain people; that analyze food systems in mountains against the background of global trends and the need for conserving ecosystems; or that offer agendas for research or policymaking aimed at increasing the sustainability of food systems in mountains.

Reimagine things: CAS Sustainable Development

Sustainability is a big promise: of a good life for all people – today and in the future, in the North and in the South. At the same time, sustainability is an enormous challenge: Currently dominant practices and courses of action harm our resources – social, ecological, and economic. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our reference framework for joint solutions. Do you want to reimagine things and tackle issues differently? The CAS Sustainable Development introduces you to various fields of action and supports you in practical implementation.

Mountain Research and Development

Mountain Research and Development Vol 37, No 3: Mountain Forests and the SDGs

This Focus Issue assesses the role of mountain forests in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. After an Introductory Essay, papers cover gender issues in agroforestry (Ethiopia) and community forests (Nepal), small-scale mountain farm forestry (Austria), rubber and the rural economy (China), a throughfall-exclusion experiment (Bhutan), mountain forest resilience (India), Andean forest landscape research, US federal forest productivity, rangeland property rights (Bhutan), and urban spatial growth modelling (China).

shifting cultivation

A global view of shifting cultivation: recent, current, and future extent

CDE researchers and their partners have mapped the current global extent of shifting cultivation based on high-resolution satellite imagery. They also estimated past and possible future trends up to the end of the 21st century. The results, published in PLOS ONE, show that shifting cultivation is still widespread; but they also point to a possible strong decrease in shifting cultivation over the next decades. This raises issues of livelihood security and resilience among people currently depending on shifting cultivation. More information

global land programme, future earth

Natural Assets Definition Workshop held at the University of Bern

The first of a series of Future Earth Natural Assets Knowledge Action Network (KAN) workshops was held September 12-13, 2017, at the University of Bern. Co-organized by the Swiss Future Earth Global Research Projects and other partners, the meeting brought together 18 highly respected scholars from across the sciences to further develop the concept of Natural Assets. More information

International Conference on Research for Development

"The world of science needs to participate more strongly in the political dialogue"

From 5th until 8th September 2017, the University of Bern hosted the fourth International Conference on Research for Development (ICRD). With the motto of "Evidence. Engagement. Policies", some 300 conference participants from all over the world discussed the challenges and opportunities presented by global sustainable development. Peter Messerli, Co-Director of CDE, called for the world of science to participate more strongly in the political dialogue.

ICRD Archiv

International Conference on Research for Development in Bern

From 5 to 8 September 2017, the University of Bern hosted the 4th International Conference on Research for Development (ICRD 2017). Under the umbrella theme of “Evidence. Engagement. Policies”, some 300 participants from around the world discussed opportunities and challenges of global sustainable development and explored ways of solving sustainability problems. More information


Building up teaching capacity for sustainable mountain development in the Caucasus

In July 2017, students from Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Switzerland participated in a course in Lagodekhi, Georgia, with the aim of strengthening their use of fieldwork methods. The participants conducted interviews with village residents, and gathered socio-economic data on people’s living space, local infrastructure, protected areas, and natural hazards. At course end, the student’s’ survey results and maps were presented to the local government and local NGOs. More information

Sustainable development goals

Sustainable Development Goals: Concrete recommendations for action in Switzerland

Published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a new discussion paper titled “Switzerland and the 2030 Agenda” provides decision-makers in politics, business, and society with concrete recommendations and directions for action on behalf of sustainability-oriented transformation policies in Switzerland. More information

Business Sustainability – Doing Business Sustainably!

This module of the CAS Sustainable Development shows how innovative employees can integrate sustainability trends into the strategic management of businesses.

CDE Annual Report 2016

CDE Annual Report 2016: Spotlight on Engaged and Transformative Science

We are pleased to present you with the Annual Report 2016 of CDE. In 2016, the first steps were taken worldwide to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Science plays a key role in this process: it must provide knowledge that acts as a compass for the design of transformation processes leading to sustainable development. In the Annual Report 2016, we show how we are generating the types of knowledge needed for sustainable development, based on four examples in the areas of energy use, land governance, and land use. More information

Production and consumption – in a cycle of sustainability

The new module of the CAS Sustainable Development shows how patterns of production and consumption could be structured to benefit ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable development.

Mountain Research and Development Vol 37, No 2 available online and open access

Papers in this issue cover mismanagement of irrigation water and landslips in Pakistan, a review of climate change impacts on ecosystem services in high mountains, maize diversity and poverty reduction in Guatemala, a new approach to assessing tap water recharge in Japan, a method for measuring bark biomass in Nepal, and the habitat ecology of a profitable but endemic resource in Tibet. More information


CDE is part of a new European Training Network on telecoupling

Consumption of food has an impact on the environment and societies in regions producing agricultural goods. Consumers, businesses, and politicians worldwide are increasingly demanding that land use must become more environmentally and socially sustainable. In response, scientists from eight European universities and several international partner organizations from business and civil society have developed a joint graduate school to better integrate research, innovation, and social responsibility. The graduate school is financed by Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. More information

Safer mountains

Safer lives and livelihoods in mountains

Natural hazards occurring in mountains threaten the lives of people in rural settlements and in the growing urban centres in mountains. A new publication presents 15 case studies from mountain regions around the world, illustrating the efforts and experiences of public and private actors to implement the 'Sendai Framework’s' four priorities for action. Messages for policy-makers emphasize the need for mountain-specific disaster risk reduction policies – ideally, integrated with development activities and climate change adaptation measures – to make livelihoods in mountains and beyond safer. More information

illicit financial flows

Curbing Illicit Financial Flows from Resource-rich Developing Countries: Improving Natural Resource Governance to Finance the SDGs

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 requires developing countries to mobilize greater domestic resources to finance and implement the goals. One promising avenue to strengthen their the tax base of resource-rich developing countries, and thus fund their development, is to effectively reduce commodity trade-related illicit financial flows (IFFs). A new research project within the Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development (r4d programme) seeks to improve the understanding of commodity trade-related IFFs. (Photo: Inked Pixels/shutterstock). More information


Kick-off meeting for a sustainable Switzerland

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) – an initiative initiated by the previous UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012 – appointed CDE and Biovision Foundation as the co-hosts for a SDSN branch in Switzerland. The kickoff meeting took place on Friday, 5 May 2017, in Bern – bringing together around 40 representatives from the Swiss research and science community, government, business and civil society.

Energy: transitioning sustainably

The new CAS Sustainable Development module introduces you to international, national, and cantonal energy policies as well as innovative and encouraging initiatives launched by communities and businesses. With the instruments taught in the course, you will develop forward-looking approaches for supplying energy and using resources sustainably.

cooperation agreement University la Frontera, Chile

CDE and partners sign cooperation agreement with University of La Frontera, Chile

A cooperation agreement was recently signed between CDE, the Institute of Geography, and the UNESCO Chair on Natural and Cultural Heritage for Sustainable Mountain Development, all at the University of Bern, and the University of La Frontera, Chile. The goal is to promote exchange among researchers and students and implement joint projects for sustainable development. In addition, the cooperation enables CDE to expand its network of partners in South America. More information

Staying on course through evaluation

Interested in getting to know evaluation tools in the field of sustainable development, both in theory and in practice? Take the training module “Staying on course through evaluation” of the Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) programme in Sustainable Development. The tools will enable you to assess concrete measures and projects with a view to sustainable development.

Does use of the “Dyker” reduce soil erosion and waterlogging in conventionally farmed potato fields?

Researchers of CDE are currently examining the effects of a device called “Dyker” on several potato fields in the Frienisberg area near Bern, Switzerland. The study is part of the European RECARE project. The Dyker consists of a set of wheels with three inclined shovels each. Attached to the rear end of the planting machine, it digs holes into the bottom of the furrows between the potato hills. The holes are intended to improve water infiltration and to help retain water near the plants, while preventing waterlogging and stagnant water in depressions and minimizing surface runoff and soil erosion. More information

Mountain Research and Development

Call for papers: Exploring the links between water, food, energy, and mountain ecosystems

The connections between food, water, and energy constitute a complex system that interacts with mountain ecosystems and factors of change. Mountain Research and Development is looking for papers that assess experiences of negotiating synergies and trade-offs among water, energy, and food; that analyze the dynamic interplay between these interconnected services and mountain ecosystems; or that offer agendas for future research or policy aiming at increasing the equitability and sustainability of trade-offs and synergies in mountain areas. Abstracts are due by 24 April 2017, full papers by 1 August 2017.

saja landscapes unesco world heritage

Landscape quality in the World Heritage region: examples from Valais

The Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage region is characterized by cultural landscapes of high aesthetic, cultural, and ecological values. Meadows, alpine pastures, landscape mosaics with dry and irrigated patches, impressive hedges and solitary landmark trees, steep terraced vineyards, and huddled villages with closely clustered traditional wooden buildings are their hallmarks. The intensively farmed plains with their varying crops have qualities as well. But what is the outlook for the World Heritage region’s valuable landscapes? Can their qualities be preserved in light of ongoing structural changes in agriculture? More information


Mountain research and development

Mountain Research and Development Vol 37, No 1 available online and open access

This issue offers 14 peer-reviewed articles focusing on questions related to water, risk reduction, energy, land use change, biodiversity, vegetation ecology, conservation, gender policy, ethnobotany, indigenous knowledge, economic opportunities, mobility, and glacier monitoring—always with sustainable development in mind. Geographically, papers present insights from Nepal, China, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Ecuador, and Colombia. More information


Sustainable development: Theoretical bases for implementation

Do you need to set sustainability goals in specific fields of activity and formulate appropriate measures? We can provide theoretical bases for the implementation of sustainable development. Find out more and register.


Master’s open days, 7–9 March 2017

Precise information, focused decisions: The master’s open days provide an opportunity for future students to inform themselves about the fields of study they are interested in. Information events on the master’s minor programme in sustainable development will take place on 7 and 9 March 2017, from 13:15 to 13:45, in Room 215 at the University of Bern’s main building. More information

Sustainability3: Networking and Creating Synergies – Sustainability Day of Bern’s 3 Institutions of Higher Education

It is our pleasure to invite you to the first jointly organized Sustainability Day of the PHBern, the University of Bern, and the Bern University of Applied Sciences, taking place on 6 April 2017. Its theme will be “Sustainability3: Networking and Creating Synergies – Sustainability Day of Bern’s 3 Institutions of Higher Education”. It is intended to raise the visibility of sustainability issues in the teaching, research, and operations of Bern’s institutions of higher education. Our overall aim is to foster dialogue in the area of sustainability within and between the respective schools. More information

Peter Messerli

Peter Messerli named co-chair of UN Global Sustainable Development Report

Peter Messerli, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Bern, has been selected as co-chair to lead the group of scientific experts tasked with drafting the upcoming UN Global Sustainable Development Report. Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Peter Messerli and Endah Murniningtyas from Indonesia to serve as co-chairs. The first report is slated for release in 2019.