News archive 2023

Christmas card

Best wishes for the holiday season and a happy New Year

The team at the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) wishes you a happy and peaceful New Year. We invite you to join us in taking a concrete – and hopefully inspiring – look ahead to 2024. More information

Cocoa fruits

Exploring pricing models in cocoa value chains

The cocoa industry has long suffered from the problem of poverty among small-scale cocoa farmers. This new project aims to foster peer learning and sharing of knowledge about pricing schemes targeting a living income in the cocoa value chain. More information

Tatenda Lemann

“We still have scope to adapt our land management”

The slogan for World Soil Day on 5 December 2023 sounds a bit banal: “Soil and water, a source of life”. But - because of a dramatic development - “we urgently need to foster discussions at all levels about why and how we use soil and water,” says CDE scientist Tatenda Lemann. More information

Sustainability Day of Bern's Institutions of Higher Education

Sustainability Day of Bern’s Institutions of Higher Education

The look back. More information in German



Together with its partners, WOCAT contributes to various side events. More information

Woman shopping in a supermarket-small

True Cost Accounting for Food in Switzerland (TRUE COST)

The prices of food rarely reflect the real costs to the environment or human health. This is because the real costs of cheap food are “externalised”. In this project, CDE and its partners are exploring how best to implement true cost accounting in Switzerland for a more sustainable food system. More information

Lilian Trechsel

“We must try to stand certain things on their head”

Many universities have taken up the cause of sustainability. But what about its practical implementation? In Bern, a great deal is happening right now. For example, the universities have joined forces to promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). CDE scientist Lilian Trechsel heads the ESD programme at the University of Bern, and she’s convinced the universities can learn a lot from each other. More information in German

2030 agenda

Accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda

In September 2024, the UN will convene a Summit of the Future. It aims to breath new life into the multilateral system so that it can deliver on the promises of the 2030 Agenda and its goals. Researchers at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and CDE are looking for new ideas on how to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Participate now! More information

Sustainability Day of Bern's Institutions of Higher Education

Sustainability Day of Bern’s Institutions of Higher Education

Join us on 3 November 2023 at vonRoll, Fabrikstrasse 6/8, Bern. More information in German

Rural area in Madagascar

Climate-resilient cocoa landscapes in Madagascar

In the Sambirano watershed of Madagascar, small-scale farms grow high-quality cocoa. Building on the achievements of initial work of Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and the cocoa sector, this new project aims at collectively engaging local stakeholders in the development of a sustainably managed landscape in the Sambirano Valley. More information

Cartoon Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Helvetia, Tell

Switzerland’s new international cooperation strategy is not ambitious enough

The Swiss Federal Council has presented its draft Dispatch on International Cooperation 2025–2028. The proposal could be more ambitious and more coherent with existing strategies in other respects. In its response to the ongoing consultation, CDE shows how. More information in German

Landscape Laos

Sustainable land management and investments in Laos

A new project aims to improve the sustainability of land management and governance in Laos by means of enhanced knowledge, capacities, and processes in both government and the private sector that promote quality investments and climate-resilient practices. More information

Landscape Georgia

New transit routes are reshaping Georgia

Roads, rails, ports – projects aimed at launching or expanding transit routes from Asia to Europe are mounting. In the middle of it all are the countries of Central Asia and the South Caucasus. What do the mega-infrastructure projects mean for the local populations? This question was studied in a CDE pilot project on Georgia's west-east axis. More information

Open door

How much do we need for a good life?

We can’t ignore the facts: In high-income countries, we must thoroughly change our consumption habits and our ways of working if we want to stop harming the climate and the environment. A team of CDE researchers is investigating how we can make progress on this – and they’ve recently come up with concrete ways of doing so. More information

Fishers and fish trader in Ghana. Photo: Vanessa Jaiteh

Making fish imports to Switzerland more sustainable

Switzerland imports 96% of its fish. Given their environmental and socio-economic effects, existing measures are insufficient to ensure sustainable fisheries production – especially in terms of social dimensions such as labour and human rights. Our new project aims to chart a path forward towards more sustainable fish imports. More information

Neusiedlersee Biotop

INSPIRE – Integrated spatial planning for biodiversity conservation and human development

The INSPIRE project unites experts from Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Austria, UK, and Switzerland in its mission to improve the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity across Europe and beyond. CDE is leading project efforts to integrate realm- and sector-based nature protection policies. In addition, CDE is supervising the monetary valuation of ecosystem services across study sites. More Information

Two earth spheres on a balance

Agreement on Agriculture reimagined

In the project “Agreement on Agriculture Reimagined – Towards a model Agreement on Agriculture Trade for Sustainable Development (AoA TSD)”, a group of experts from the global North and global South is exploring ways to redesign global agricultural trade to support sustainable food systems in diverse contexts. More information

Coffee washing station in Western Rwanda

Bittersweet fruits of ‘miracle growth’: Identifying poverty and labour dynamics

Based on evidence from the coffee heartlands of Rwanda and Laos, this policy brief highlights tools for measuring the impacts of agricultural growth on poverty in rural areas. And it emphasizes the oft-overlooked importance of labour dynamics in such settings. More information

The community of the “undisciplined” marches on

This spring, the Global Land Programme, an international network of land system specialists, moved its coordination office from CDE to the University of Maryland in the US. More information

Jean-David Gerber

“We want to spark a post-growth debate based on concrete examples of commons initiatives”

Cities have become one of the main settings for addressing rising resource use and growing inequality. Commons initiatives can play an important role here – and also be a way of countering the rising costs of rent, believes Jean-David Gerber, Professor at the University of Bern’s Institute of Geography and CDE member. More information

Heinzpeter Znoj

“Today, sustainability is also understood as a market”

Heinzpeter Znoj, professor of social anthropology at the University of Bern and president of the CDE Board, will transition to professor emeritus status. How does he view today’s sustainability debate and the role of transformative science? (The interview is also published in our Annual report) More information

Annual Report 2022

CDE 2022 Annual Report

Our 2022 Annual Report provides both a look back and a look forward. On the one hand, its featured stories and conversations demonstrate the importance of cooperation between policymaking and robust science – a combination that characterizes all of our activities. On the other, they illustrate how CDE researchers are innovating to make the world a better place for all. More information

On the way towards more sustainable land-based investments in Laos

In 2022, the government of Laos halted 170 land concessions that did not fulfil its minimum requirements. How did it come about that this Southeast Asian country reassessed its land concessions with a view to sustainable development? CDE scientists Michael Epprecht and Vong Nanhthavong offer answers in our new video. More information

Cover-Bild der Publikation "Klimaneutrale Region Oberland-Ost: Von der Vision zum Handeln". Samuel Bucheli

Climate neutrality: The Oberland-Ost region steps forward with a vision

How can a whole region become climate neutral? The just published German-language brochure “Climate Neutral Region Oberland-Ost” presents the vision pursued by the Oberland-Ost region in the Swiss canton of Bern and shows how the goal of climate neutrality can be achieved. More information in German

Kenyan farmers

CDE at the IASC Conference in Nairobi

The XIX Biennial IASC Conference “The commons we want: between historical legacies and future collective actions” combines a future-oriented research and practice perspective with a look back, as many legal and structural legacies predetermine possible development pathways. More information

Overused and eroded versus well-managed land in Tajikistan

Solutions for a d(r)ying world?

On 10 May, the University of Bern will host a high-level event with Ibrahim Thiaw, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The topic could hardly be more pressing: How can we achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030? More information

Thomas Breu

“The EU handles research cooperation with Africa in a much more forward-looking way than Switzerland”

While the EU is boosting its research cooperation with Africa and creating innovative funding instruments, Switzerland clings to old approaches. “The potential of countries in the global South isn’t recognized,” says Thomas Breu, Director of CDE and President  of KFPE. More information

Solidarity economy – an alternative economic model for a sustainable food system?

This film uses four best practice examples from Switzerland and France to show how solidarity economy strategies in agriculture, processing, and trade are helping to transform today’s unsustainable food system by building alternative value chains. The film is available in German, French, and Italian on CDE’s YouTube channel. More information

Arid landscape

In the heart of empty Spain: The uncertain future of olive oil

Join our PhD student Léa Lamotte on her trip through sparsely populated landscapes that produce olive oil for a large part of the world market, and learn more about the challenges facing Spanish cultivators. More information

Aye Aye, a long-fingered lemur

Call for consideration of social aspects when implementing the 30x30 biodiversity conservation target

The outcome of the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Conference (COP15) was widely hailed as groundbreaking. Now researchers, including Julie Zähringer from the Wyss Academy for Nature and CDE (both at the University of Bern), are calling to include social aspects when implementing the 30x30 biodiversity conservation target. More information

a boat

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. You can be a part of this change: Join us at the 2023 International Summer School on Sustainable Development. More information

Community garden

COMMONPATHS – Transition pathways to urban sustainability

Why do certain urban commons projects succeed while others fail? In Ghana and Switzerland, the COMMONPATHS research project is investigating how to improve the conditions for success of commons movements. More information

Ravaka Andriamihaja

“Diversity is the key to decolonizing research”

North–South research collaboration is still largely determined by the economic and political power imbalance between the global North and South, as well as by colonial patterns. So, it’s high time to decolonize research. CDE scientist Ravaka Andriamihaja investigated the issues at stake for the Swiss Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE). More information

Farm in Cambodia

Climate-resilient integrated farming systems in Cambodia and Laos

Our new project aims to improve the development of small-scale farming in Laos and Cambodia through novel approaches in three areas: farming systems, scaling up pathways beyond the farm level, and education and capacity building. More information

Bettina Scharrer

“Further loss of soil fertility and biodiversity will cause yields to decline”

In spring, the Swiss parliament will likely postpone the environmental and climate targets in agricultural policy proposed by the Federal Council in June 2022. A scientific panel called for a very different course of action at the recent first Swiss Food Summit. Bettina Scharrer of CDE was one of the main authors of the relevant scientific report. Is the Swiss parliament heading in a direction that puts the country’s food security at risk? More information in German

Local workshop in the Peruvian Amazon

Indigenous knowledge for conservation governance innovations

In a new project CDE and the Wyss Academy for Nature are investigating the outcomes of Indigenous-led governance schemes and their potential for other forest frontier contexts. More information

Growth trajectory

Pigou and “The value of the whale”

How can we solve human-made environmental crises? In her blog post “Conversation killer”, CDE director Sabin Bieri shows why we need a substantial debate about innovative solutions beyond the free-market mainstream. More information


Talking and writing about mobility in the context of sustainability

Our new project “Language Compass on Transportation and Public Space” has two goals: Raising awareness and developing a language guide for language use that portrays resource-conserving transportation forms in a positive way and promotes changes in mobility behaviour. More information

Markus Giger

Working for land rights – with nuance, but a firm commitment

Markus Giger has worked at CDE for 30 years – until recently as co-leader of its Sustainability Governance Impact Area – and is one of the leading figures behind the global Land Matrix network. His is the story of a scientist who did not view himself as one for many years. 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

coworking space

SWEET Lantern: Living Labs – interfaces for the energy transition

In order to promote the energy transition in Switzerland, scientists from several universities and living labs have launched the “Lantern” research project. Specialists and citizens are collaborating to find solutions to foster decarbonization in people’s lifestyles and ways of working. More information

menu card

Amazonia: The bittersweet taste of chocolate

During her research, our PhD student Léa Lamotte came across the “Western lifestyle” – in a place where people are looking for alternatives to rainforest destruction. In her first blog post in our “Coffee Corner”, she takes us on a journey to Amazonia. More information


Mitholz: How does the clearing of the former ammunition depot affect the residents of the village?

Starting in 2030 or even earlier, part of the population of Mitholz, a village in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland, will be relocated for an expected ten years. CDE is accompanying the remediation from a social science perspective and examining questions related to quality of life and residents’ attachment to their home village. More information

Shifting cultivation - Jhum

Jhum – Naga Shifting Cultivation

The film by Resource Rights for the Indigenous People (RRtIP) and CDE highlights the importance of customary systems of Indigenous peoples and the contribution these systems have to food security and livelihood protection of remote Indigenous peoples. More information