Local energy transition experiments for a low-carbon society

On the way to a climate-neutral region: A train of the Bernese Oberland Railway travelling through the project region. Photo: Berner Oberland Bahn


Climate change poses major challenges to tourism and mountain regions. It demands comprehensive changes in housing, transport, and the economy. If the necessary transformations are tackled actively and planned jointly, this can open up many great opportunities for regional development.

Pilot project for innovations in the Bernese Oberland region

“Local energy transition experiments for a low-carbon society” is a pilot project for promotion of such joint processes. It aims to develop and implement ideas towards a climate-neutral society in the Swiss Alpine region “Oberland-Ost” (Canton of Bern).

Emphasis is placed on locally adapted energy innovations that are co-initiated and co-developed by local stakeholders. Experiences gained in implementation can also be used to identify and address hurdles in the institutional framework. Lastly, the selected innovations can be evaluated regarding how well they contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Project activities

Key stakeholders from the region, municipalities, local tourism and business, and civil society are working together with scientists from CDE and the Wyss Academy for Nature, as well as federal and cantonal representatives, in order to:

  • conduct a problem analysis aimed at determining key areas for development;
  • develop different visions for a climate-neutral tourism region and identify possible ways to achieve it;
  • plan a “transition agenda” with concrete steps, and implement them in an experiment phase;
  • evaluate the process and derive lessons from it.

Role of science

The role of the researchers is to organize and moderate the process together with the Office of Environment and Energy of the Canton of Bern. Additionally, the researchers prepare scientific background information, calculate energy use, and identify good examples from other regions. They record the views of residents and vacationers, in addition to accompanying implementation of the “experiments”.

Workshops with local and regional stakeholders and qualitative and quantitative surveys are conducted alongside scientific research.

By documenting and publicizing the whole process and its results, the goal is to take the knowledge obtained and put it to use in the development of other regions.