News archive 2020

A train of the Bernese Oberland Railway

Local energy transition experiments for a low-carbon society

In the Canton of Bern’s Oberland-Ost region, a pilot project is starting aimed at creating and testing innovations on behalf of a climate-neutral tourism region. The innovations will be developed collaboratively by the Regional Conference Oberland-Ost, key local stakeholders from business and civil society, the Canton of Bern, as well as scientists from CDE and the new Wyss Academy for Nature. More information

Illicit financial flows: Monitoring tool for North–South policy coherence

Illicit financial flows: Monitoring tool for North–South policy coherence

Together with NADEL/ETH and SDSN Switzerland, CDE has developed and implemented a methodology that makes it possible to measure how coherently Switzerland is positioned in terms of development policy. More information

Theresa Tribaldos

“Crops from mountain regions are crucial to our food systems”

Together with the University of Bern’s Institute of Geography and its partner in Kenya, CDE leads the UNESCO Chair on Natural and Cultural Heritage for Sustainable Mountain Development. Theresa Tribaldos discusses the significance of the International Mountain Day and why lessons from the Netherlands could be valuable for mountain regions. More information

Prof. Dr. Chinwe Ifejika Speranza

CDE Board member is awarded ERC Consolidator Grant

Prof. Dr. Chinwe Ifejika Speranza has obtained an ERC Consolidator Grant for her project SUSTAINFORESTS. The aim of the project is to study the roles of forest patches in the highly fragmented agricultural landscapes of the rainforest and savannah zones in the West African countries of Togo, Benin, Nigeria, and Cameroon. More information

Lilian Trechsel, Theresa Tribaldos, Heino Meessen

Intergenerational tandems for a better academic culture

How can we ensure the transfer of knowledge between generations, in a way that is beneficial to both sides? Scientists at CDE have tested a system in which young researchers and experienced scientists learn from each other in tandem. They have now been awarded the “Prix Lux”, the Equal Opportunities Prize of the University of Bern. More information

Policy Brief 17

Unlocking knowledge for sustainability

The pandemic has made it clear: the gravest threats we face today transcend national boundaries, are inextricably linked, and demand joint, knowledge-based actions in response. This policy brief outlines lessons from CDE’s long-term experience in tackling shared challenges through inclusive, globe-spanning research and education. More information

Land leases and concessions in Laos

Land leases and concessions in Laos

The new CDE publication “Land Leases and Concessions in the Lao PDR: A Characterization of Investments in Land and Their Impacts” presents an integrated analysis of the 2017 national land concession inventory, an assessment of investment quality in Laos, and other national socio-economic and environmental datasets. More information

Sustainable Mountain Development Series

Vibrant mountain communities

A new volume of the Sustainable Mountain Development Series presents ten examples of how regional development can be fostered in line with local people’s visions. The key to sustainable change lies in targeted political interventions that support inclusive planning, access to public services, and collaboration among actors. More information

Elisabeth Bürgi Bonanomi

“We need a legal system for the 21st century”

Swiss citizens will vote on the Responsible Business Initiative (Konzernverantwortungsinitiative) on 29 November 2020. How much would actually change if the initiative were to pass? And what would a “yes” or “no” vote mean for Switzerland’s role in sustainable development? Elisabeth Bürgi Bonanomi, law expert at CDE, offers a legal perspective. More information


SHOWCASE – Integrating biodiversity into farming

The EU-funded project aims to achieve a breakthrough in the integration of biodiversity into farming, by linking science with agriculture, society, nature conservation NGOs, and communication. The CDE-led part of the project seeks to resolve trade-offs related to farming and the management of large carnivores in Europe such as wolf and lynx. More information


Ecological infrastructures in rural landscapes

CDE’s new project on “Environmental policies for ecological infrastructures in rural landscapes (EMERALD)” examines to what extent incentive programmes contribute to the creation of an ecological infrastructure in the Canton of Bern. The aim is to generate recommendations for policymakers in Switzerland and abroad. More information

Crop irrigation

Mitigating water stresses that hamper crop production

The general goal of the new EU-funded project OPTAIN is to identify most efficient and easy-to-implement techniques for the retention and reuse of water and nutrients in small agricultural catchments. In the project, CDE leads the Swiss case study and a work package on measures and indicators. More information


CDE researcher awarded ERC grant

For his project “Is environmental justice necessary for human well-being? Comparative analysis of certification schemes, inclusive business, and solidarity economy strategies (COMPASS)”, Christoph Oberlack of CDE and the Institute of Geography, University of Bern, has been awarded research funding from the European Research Council (ERC). More information

Lemur, Madagascar

Global interests collide in Madagascar

In the wake of rising global prices for vanilla and clove, local farmers in Madagscar are growing more of these crops – often at the expense of forests. Nearby the conservation areas of Masoala and Makira, CDE researchers have shown just how strongly the global competition over land and resources impacts local development. More information


Sustainable plant protection transition: a global health approach – SPRINT

The new, EU-funded research project SPRINT, of which CDE leads a work package, aims to develop an integrated approach for assessing the impacts of pesticide mixtures on the health of ecosystems, plants, animals, and humans, and to identify pathways for transitioning to more sustainable farming practices. More information

Anne Zimmermann

“Outside pressure is forcing universities in the direction of sustainability”

How can transformation of everyday thinking and behaviour for sustainable development be anchored and qualitatively secured at universities? This question will be discussed by experts from science, quality assurance, and university teaching – as well as interested parties from civil society – at the Higher Education Summit, held virtually from 31 August to 2 September 2020. More information

Annual Report 2019

CDE Annual report 2019

Highlights in the last year include CDE’s organization in Bern of the Open Science Meeting of the Global Land Programme, as well as the release of the Global Sustainable Development Report, which CDE Director Peter Messerli co-authored and presented to the UN General Assembly in September 2019. CDE was also extensively involved in the founding of the new Wyss Academy for Nature. More information

Christoph Bader

“We need fundamentally different economic forms”

Constant economic growth fuels more consumption and CO2 emissions. But instead of consuming more, we could reduce working hours – resulting in a triple gain: better quality of life, fairer societies, and reduced CO2 emissions. CDE researchers show how it could work in a new working paper. More information in German

Agricultural cooperatives_Finding strength in numbers

Agricultural cooperatives: Finding strength in numbers

Despite their fundamental importance, many small farmers lead lives of deepening vulnerability – caught between subsistence strategies threatened by ecological degradation and commercial food systems that devalue them as cheap labour. Alternative agricultural models are urgently needed. More information

Peter Messerli

“It was time for me to say: Let’s have another go at it!”

For ten years, Peter Messerli was one of CDE’s two directors. As of 1 May 2020, he will lead the new Wyss Academy for Nature. In an interview, he discusses what has changed, the role played by science, what he is looking forward to – and what he will miss. More information

Extractive industries in Madagascar

Governance processes and impacts of extractive industries in Madagascar

In Madagascar, a hotspot of global biodiversity, problems associated with the extractive industries have increasingly given rise to political, economic, social, and ecological crises over the past two decades. A new CDE research project is pursuing one main objective: that of generating scientific and practical transformation knowledge to enable more sustainable mining investments. More information

MRD Nepal Kenya

Education for girls in Nepal, fire management on Mount Kenya

What does it take to enable successful higher education for girls and thus support sustainable development? In the new issue of “Mountain Research and Development”, a study from Nepal presents possible pathways. Further topics include integrated monitoring of biodiversity and ecosystem services in Colombia and the characterization of forest fires on Mount Kenya for improved fire management. More information

Blooming coffee plants

Links between biodiversity and coffee farmer practices in Bolivia

In Bolivia, more than half of the coffee is grown under shade trees in agroforestry systems. In a new partnership, researchers from CDE and the Institute of Geography (both University of Bern) are joining with the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Bolivia, to document biodiversity on different high-quality coffee farms and analyze its interactions with Bolivian peasant farmers’ management decisions. More information

Christoph Oberlack

“Sustainable Development needs local knowledge and global learning”

An international network of scientists has developed an approach aimed at supporting decision-making for sustainable development: the archetype approach. One of the specialists in the field is Christoph Oberlack, a researcher at CDE and the Institute of Geography at the University of Bern. He describes new ways in which sustainability research can support policy and practice. More information

Nische Gesellschaft

From niche to society: social innovations for sustainable consumption

Repair cafés and projects in community-supported agriculture or the sharing economy show how our society can use fewer resources and thus operate more sustainably. In a new project, a team of CDE researchers are investigating how such initiatives can take root and achieve broad impact. More information


Investments by the super-rich drive deforestation

Wealthy individuals are increasingly investing in agriculture. Their investments boost production of plant-based raw materials for human consumption, industrial uses, and animal fodder. The resulting capital flows directly contribute to deforestation in the global South, especially in the tropics. That is the conclusion of a new study by the University of Bern’s Centre for Development and Environment (CDE). More information

UNCCD - WOCAT Partnership

UNCCD and WOCAT extend their partnership

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the WOCAT initiative, hosted at CDE, have renewed their partnership indefinitely. UNCCD representatives and CDE senior scientist/WOCAT director Hanspeter Liniger signed the partnership agreement last week. More information

Würfel SDGs

The future is sustainable – it's in our hands! Bachelor & Master Summer School 2020

This year, in an international summer school, CDE is offering students a chance to deepen their knowledge of sustainable development and to acquire the competencies needed to act as change agents. More information

Think new and act differently: CAS Sustainable Development

From knowledge to action towards the 2030 Agenda: The CAS Sustainable Development offers space for reflection, conveys knowledge, presents fields of action, and provides support for putting theory into practice. Register for this continuing education course today and learn to be a networked thinker and doer. More information in German


Making land deals more sustainable: The example of Laos

Since 2006, the strategy for development of Laos has included making money from land. Mandated by the Lao government, CDE scientists have developed an index – the first of its kind – that assesses the quality of land deals and points the way towards more sustainable investments. More information

Woody Weeds

Study calls for rapid action to stop spread of woody weeds in Eastern Africa

Invasive alien species are threatening large tracts of rangeland and causing biodiversity loss in Eastern Africa. An international team of scientists, including of CDE, are now warning that woody weeds like Prosopis juliflora risk invading vast new areas. They recommend a coordinated management plan to curb their spread. More information

Master's open days

Master’s open days, 10-11 March 2020

Information events on the master’s minor programme in sustainable development will take place on 10 and 11 March 2020, from 13:15 to 13:45, in Room 105 at the University of Bern’s main building. More information

Grand-Prix of Bern

Sustainable events: On the way to zero waste?

The Sustainable Events Forum 2020 – organized by SchweryCade and CDE – took a critical look at the sustainability of major events and showed that there are no simple solutions applicable to all events. Nonetheless, much can be improved – if it’s done right. More information in German

Umweltforschungspreis 2020

Presentation of the Bernese Award for Environmental Research

Ninety percent of Swiss floodplain soils contain microplastic. Where does it come from? And: How are Swiss politics shaping the transition to renewable energy? Answers to these questions will be provided at the award ceremony for the Bernese Award for Environmental Research on 5 March 2020. More information

Guidelines for virtual conferencing

Guidelines for virtual conferencing

Building on experience garnered during the COPERNICUS Alliance Online Conference 2019, the Copernicus Alliance leadership team and CDE researchers developed guidelines on how to prepare, host and evaluate virtual conferences. More information

land use, CDE-led study

When the meanings of a place collide

A CDE-led study on a nature reserve in the US state of Oregon demonstrates how land use, power, and place claims interact and shape socio-ecological developments over the long term. More information