In our “Spotlight”, you can read articles and updates on

  • CDE research
  • project implementation
  • science/policy issues in the area of sustainable development and the environment

28 July 2022

Engaging with the giant

Designed to boost economic growth, mega-infrastructure projects usually allow other concerns to fall by the wayside – especially sustainable development. Therefore, CDE has launched a new, transformative research initiative. The aim is to generate scientific evidence to support local communities near large infrastructure projects.

14 July 2022

“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 can and should play a strong role in providing such stories.

8 June 2022

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

Half-time for the 2030 Agenda: besides a clear delay in terms of their implementation, the 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.”

31 May 2022

“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. Has Switzerland truly made (almost) no progress towards the 2030 Agenda? CDE researcher Christoph Bader accompanied the report scientifically.

10 May 2022

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

From 9 to 20 May 2022, 197 parties are meeting for the UNCCD COP15. The goal is to halt desertification, land degradation, and drought, and to preserve land for future generations. In the interview Nicole Harari, CDE researcher and member of WOCAT's executive team, explains the issues.

28 April 2022

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

“If we fail to address issues of justice 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.

7 April 2022

Land deals increase income, but not well-being

Lao PDR 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.

18 March 2022

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

The state of the climate and that of biodiversity are closely linked. “They are also linked to crucial issues such as justice, values, and the well-being of all,” says Unai Pascual, IPBES member and Associated Scientist at CDE.

9 March 2022

“The highly local nature of biodiversity is an asset”

More than a third of Switzerland’s species are endangered. The Confederation, cantons, and municipalities have 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.

1 March 2022

“Achieving species conservation goals requires indigenous knowledge”

Rich countries must ask themselves what they have contributed to biodiversity loss. So says Boniface Kiteme, head of CETRAD, partner organization of CDE. Ahead of the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference, he asks: “What role should poor societies play in achieving global biodiversity goals?

24 February 2022

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

In 2022 a new global framework for biodiversity will be decided. One demand ranks very high on the agenda for negotiation: the “30 by 30” initiative. Is this approach properly targeted? An interview with Julie Zähringer, Professor for Land Systems & Sustainability Transformations.

3 February 2022

Black cardamom – a way out of poverty?

Agricultural exports featuring more value added will generate jobs, higher incomes, greater tax revenues. Governments and development practitioners act on it in hopes of fighting poverty in the global South. But is it true? An research team led by CDE has put this idea to the test by analysing Nepal’s cardamom value chain.