News archive 2022


Christmas, poinsettias, and vertical farming

What would Christmas be without poinsettias? Only very few of them are cultivated by high-tech robots. But visiting TU Munich, CDE director Sabin Bieri received one that was. And seeing the possible future of plant farming inspired her to write about it. This is the first post of “sabinbieri's wire”. More information

Elisabeth Bürgi Bonanomi

“We show how Switzerland could boost sustainable trade”

Trade rules are a key lever to foster sustainable and diverse food systems and curb unsustainable ones, says Elisabeth Bürgi Bonanomi, senior legal expert at CDE. Together with a research team, she presents how corresponding rules could be designed in accordance with international law. More information

Measuring the impact of climate conversations

What effects do to small group conversations about individual climate protection behaviour have on participants’ personal ecological footprint? CDE's new Working paper examines this question. More information in German

Theresa Tribaldos and Sabin Bieri

“Diverse and regional nutrition makes us more resilient”

In the latest issue of the University of Bern’s magazine, Sabin Bieri and Theresa Tribaldos of CDE call for a move away from standardized food production and processing. More information

“Indigenous knowledge can’t be kept in a museum”

Much is at stake at next week’s UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15). CDE scientist Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel says: “If we want to conserve biodiversity, we need to understand its connections with local knowledge, values, and worldviews – and to tackle all of these dimensions together.” More information

Empty sardine tin

In search of sustainable fish

Fish is considered healthy and tasty, but there are reports of overfishing, antibiotic-saturated aquacultures, and fishing methods that destroy marine ecosystems. As a result, many Swiss consumers rely on private eco-labels, guides, or goods labelled “regional” or “Swiss”. A CDE study finds that this is not enough – and highlights what is needed. More information in German

Carolina Adler

“Mountains are taking the heat”

The 27th edition of the UN Climate Change Conference will take place from November 7-18, 2022. Carolina Adler, Executive Director of the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), CDE scientist, and one of the lead authors of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report will be present in Sharm el-Sheikh. More information

coffee bags

Commodity supplier? No, coffee entrepreneur!

CDE doctoral student Samuel Brülisauer visited some of new “coffee farmers” in Peru – and now kicks off our new blog: “Coffee Corner”. In this space, CDE staff and students will share their insights into coffee and cocoa production and the associated value chains, with a focus on sustainability. More information

Rennende junge Menschen

Fostering inner dimensions for sustainability in higher education

Led by CDE, a new project brings together eight leading higher education institutions and academies dealing with the topic of sustainability and holistic teaching and learning. With a view to pioneering teaching-and-learning, it focuses on inner dimensions and promotes inner transformation for sustainability. More information


Game changers for change agents: Sustainable Development Goals in dialogue (ChaCha)

How can we break down complex sustainability challenges for the younger generation? Our new project creates a gamified experimental space in which high school and vocational students are given the opportunity to negotiate promising levers for sustainability transformation with scientists and policymakers. More information

Mega-infrastructure project

Mega-infrastructure projects: Engaging with the giant

CDE has launched a transformative research initiative: the “Mega-infrastructure projects” transformation stream. The aim is to generate scientific evidence to support local communities near large infrastructure projects. The initiative will enable people to organize themselves and influence infrastructure development so that it is equitable and incorporates their interests. More information

Thomas Breu

“We have waited far too long for politicians to act”

There are many reasons why implementation of the 2030 Agenda is stalled. One reason, believes CDE Director Thomas Breu: “We don’t just need alarm bells – we also need positive stories and narratives that show something is possible.” Science should play a strong role in providing such stories. In addition, a coalition of science and society is required to bring about the necessary changes. More information

digital tools

Transformative science in the digital space

How can we organize co-creation, if we cannot work closely with others? This requires a conscious use of digital tools and a critical reflection about their influence on our interactions: how does the online environment influence communication? A CDE research team provides an overview that translates experiences of researchers and lecturers into hands-on guidelines ready to use. More information

CDE Annual Report 2021

CDE’s Annual Report 2021

The coup in Myanmar had a profound impact on all our work there. Crises like this show that long-standing partnerships are key for sustainable development. They also demonstrate the need for systems approaches. Read more and explore how we co-produce knowledge for sustainability transformations and how we forge pathways to sustainable futures. More information

Tobias Haller

“The SDGs run the risk of becoming an anti-politics machine”

The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are also attracting criticism. Tobias Haller warns: “Because commons are not included in the 2030 Agenda, state elites and private individuals can continue to legitimize the grabbing of such resources – not least through the SDGs themselves.” More information

Coffee harvesting

Wake up, smell the coffee and play the game

What’s the story behind all these cups of coffee consumed day in, day out? How is coffee produced, processed, and distributed? Who are the players involved? Our new Lao Coffee Game takes you to a coffee-producing region in southern Laos and lets you be the players. More information

Christoph Bader

“If we continue at this rate, we won’t get anywhere by 2050”

In early May, the Swiss Federal Council presented its second country report on implementation of the UN sustainable development goals. Christoph Bader, CDE researcher and economist, accompanied the report scientifically and says: “It addresses many things, but fails to draw the logical conclusion that we have to make radical change.” More information in German

Nicole Harari

“We have to do a better job of tapping the synergies between the three Rio Conventions”

It is far less in the public eye than its sister conventions on climate change and biodiversity, but no less important: the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). At COP15, CDE will be the first Swiss university institution to be officially accredited as a partner of the UNCCD. More information


CDE/WOCAT at the UNCCD Conference in Abidjan

The theme of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) is “Land. Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity”. CDE researchers with the WOCAT network will lead various sessions at the Rio Conventions Pavilion and at side events presenting their latest land degradation and Sustainable Land Management (SLM) tools and methods, findings, milestones, and project achievements.

“It’s not enough to treat justice as a subcategory of ‘social issues’”

“If we fail to address issues of justice – from the perspective of everyone concerned – there’s a risk that sustainability will remain an empty phrase”: That’s the conclusion that Elena Zepharovich comes to in her CDE doctoral dissertation, for which she received the 2021 Bernese Award for Environmental Research of the University of Bern. More information

Farmers working in the fields, Laos

Land deals increase income, but not well-being

Laos has managed to generate an economic boom, reducing poverty and creating a significant number of jobs in rural areas. A Lao researcher examined the data as part of his doctoral studies at CDE – and the results are sobering. More information

Summerschool 2022

Online Summer School on Sustainable Development

Achieving human well-being and eradicating poverty for all people on earth – while protecting our planet’s climate and biodiversity – will require transformative change. CDE’s International Bachelor and Master Summer School on sustainable development is an opportunity to deepen your understanding of these issues – through creative, interactive, and participatory learning. More information

Mountain farming in the dry region of Ladakh

Promoting innovations in mountain areas – PRIMA

PRIMA is a new project led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and implemented in collaboration with CDE. Its overall goal is to promote collaboration among partners and across mountain regions on innovative approaches that provide mutual benefits and enhance the effectiveness of action towards inclusive sustainable development in mountains. More information


BIO-TRADE – Protecting biodiversity through regulating trade and international business

International supply chains accelerate habitat degradation far from the place of consumption. The BIO-TRADE project analyses how Europe can protect biodiversity elsewhere in a socially inclusive way through effective, fair, and coherent regulation of trade relations, supply chains, and “no net loss” biodiversity policies. More information

Unai Pascual

“Biodiversity, perhaps even more so than climate, touches all of our lives”

People have widely varying views on human–nature relationships. “The urgent changes needed to protect the environment must respect this diversity – beyond the existing power imbalance between the global North and South,” says Unai Pascual. More information

Astrid Zabel

“The highly local nature of biodiversity is an asset”

Switzerland has stepped in with various instruments to halt species loss – so far, with limited success. CDE scientist Astrid Zabel explains why biodiversity goals often fail to materialize, and which instruments can promote species conservation. More information

Container port

The price of fairness: Tackling mispricing of commodity exports from poor countries

For decades, countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have remained trapped in poverty despite continuously exporting valuable commodities with which they are richly endowed. CDE's new policy brief introduces a raft of measures that can be taken to stop revenue losses from trade mispricing. More information

“Achieving species conservation goals requires indigenous knowledge”

Rich countries must ask themselves what they have contributed to biodiversity loss. There is no need to negotiate this – it’s something they can check themselves and say: “We will stop this.” So says Boniface Kiteme and asks: “What role should poor societies play in achieving global biodiversity goals?” More information

Julie Zähringer

“The real question is: What do we have to protect biodiversity from?”

The negotiations in preparation for the upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference will enter a next round in Geneva. The stakes are high. In a joint series of interviews with their experts, CDE and the Wyss Academy for Nature are illuminating some of the most important aspects of the negotiations. We start with Julie Zähringer. More information

CDE scientist Theresa Tribaldos appointed UNESCO Chairholder

CDE scientist Theresa Tribaldos has been appointed holder of the UNESCO Chair on Natural and Cultural Heritage for Sustainable Mountain Development by the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris. The UNESCO Chair is based at CDE and the Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland, and co-held with CETRAD in Nanyuki, Kenya. More information

Kulinata FoodSaveBankett

Cities for sustainable food systems

Many cities have put food policy on their municipal agendas as a way of progressing towards sustainability and climate goals. But they face considerable gaps in knowledge on how they can achieve a sustainable food system. In a new project, researchers of CDE and HAFL work with ten Swiss cities to develop a knowledge base, scenarios, and options for action. More information

satellite image

Land use scientists urge policymakers to adopt new approaches to addressing global crises

Climate change, biodiversity loss, and other global crises require new approaches. That's the conclusion of 50 leading international land use researchers, including experts from CDE. In a groundbreaking study, they call on policymakers to act on behalf of sustainable, equitable solutions to our most urgent global challenges. More information

Black cardamom

Black cardamom – a way out of poverty?

Agricultural exports featuring more value added will generate jobs, higher incomes, greater tax revenues, and foreign-exchange earnings. That’s the theory anyway. Is it true that agricultural products will open up new opportunities for rural women? An international research team led by CDE has put this idea to the test by analysing Nepal’s cardamom value chain. More information


Economic growth, critiques of growth, and (post-)growth society from the 19th century to the present

Fifty years of “Limits to Growth” and 30 years of “Sustainable Development”: What has changed – and what hasn’t? Historians, economists, sociologists, and CDE researchers provide an overview of the central issues of economic growth and related critiques in this University of Bern lecture series. More information in German