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

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

1 May 2024

Panel discussion with Bernese politicians at Lerbermatt high school

High school students practised being change agents for climate action

How does climate policy work? Young people are particularly affected by it, but they often feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the issues and political processes involved. In April, we visited a high school and worked with students to change this. Politicians from Bern also joined in.

26 March 2024

Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel

“Indigenous knowledge can help design new paths to better futures”

Indigenous peoples manage and care for over one quarter of Earth’s land surface. Yet their perspectives remain insufficiently accounted for in debates on conservation of biodiversity and cultural landscapes. Affording this knowledge equal space is the goal of an international Congress in May.

5 December 2023

Tatenda Lemann

“We still have scope to adapt our land management”

The slogan for World Soil Day on 5 December 2023 is “Soil and water, a source of life”. The statistics make you sit up: Behind the numbers is a dramatic development that has barely registered with the public. “We urgently need to foster discussions about why and how we use soil and water,” says CDE scientist Tatenda Lemann.

26 October 2023

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: The universities have joined forces to promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Lilian Trechsel, CDE, is convinced the universities can learn a lot from each other.

17 August 2023

New transit routes are reshaping 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 does it mean for the local populations? A look at Georgia’s west–east corridor.

22 June 2023

The community of the “undisciplined” marches on

It was a busy seven years in Bern. This spring, the Global Land Programme, an international network of land system specialists, moved its coordination office from CDE to the University of Maryland. We wanted to know from the key people behind the scenes: What were the highlights? And what opportunities are opened up?

2 June 2023

“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, believes Jean-David Gerber. In a new research project with CDE, he investigates such forms of organization in both Switzerland and Ghana.

1 June 2023

“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?

27 April 2023

“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, Switzerland clings to old approaches. “The potential of countries in the global South isn’t recognized,” says Thomas Breu, Director of CDE. Yet now is when we urgently need more momentum to tackle global challenges and crises in concert.

4 April 2023

“Diversity is the key to decolonizing research”

North–South research collaboration is still largely determined by the 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).

23 February 2023

“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. A scientific panel called for a very different course of action. Bettina Scharrer of CDE was one of the main authors of the relevant scientific report.

1 February 2023

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

He has worked at CDE for 30 years and is one of the leading figures behind the global Land Matrix network. Shortly before his retirement, Markus Giger earned his doctorate with a dissertation. His is the story of a scientist who did not view himself as one for many years.