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© Michael Epprecht, 2020; Limestone landscape in Savannakhet province

Wyss Academy provides feedback to draft Swiss national strategy on Education, Research and Innovation 2025-2028

In the future, Switzerland’s yardstick for a good research project should not be the number of publications associated with it - but the contribution it makes to dealing with societal challenges. And research cooperation with the global south must be strengthened. These and other recommendations were addressed by the Wyss Academy for Nature to Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, in today's statement on Switzerland’s draft Strategy for Education, Research and Innovation 2025-2028. 

Click here for the statement (in German).


Scaling from 5000 to 100’000 bunds: Making Northern Kenya greener  

At the Wyss Academy for Nature, we want to do things differently. We are seeing promising results of our approach in Northern Kenya: The semi-arid landscape there is turning a little greener. We are combining a known method to protect precious water and soil, semi-circular bunds, with traditional systems and our solutionscape approach to assure long-term success. This youth-led initiative by the Green Earth Warriors, with the Wyss Academy as catalyst and technical expertise by Justdiggit, has expanded to involve around 500 households and three local women’s groups - the Twiga Mamas, the Chui Mamas and the Naitutum Women’s group – and has scaled up from 5000 to 100’000 projected bunds within only a few months. Through our integrated monitoring and evaluation system, we can provide data on this approach for like-minded partners. Hopefully, other regions may benefit from this solution. 


Wyss Academy provides feedback to Swiss Federal Council on International Cooperation strategy 

Swiss international cooperation should help ensure that the fight against climate change does not happen at the expense of the poorest and most disadvantaged - and needs sufficient funding to do so. International cooperation and research must be more closely linked - and measures for Ukraine require a separate legal basis for funding that lies outside of international cooperation. These and other recommendations were addressed by the Wyss Academy for Nature to Swiss Federal Councillors, Ignazio Cassis and Guy Parmelin, in a statement sent today on Switzerland's draft Strategy for International Cooperation 2025-2028.


Click here for the statement (in German). 

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We are thrilled to announce our support and participation in the upcoming Spirit of Bern, on August 24th. 

This year's event is centered around nutrition and brings together a diverse spectrum of experts from politics, business, science, and practitioners. 


Our goal? Learn and also have the chance to exchange knowledge about this important topic. Our dietary choices have tremendous influence over our health, well-being, as well as on the world around us.  With the global food system confronting multifaceted challenges, such as climate change, the world's growing population, and the pressing demand for healthy eating, this is a current and relevant topic. We are looking forward to insightful dialogues! 


«Es braucht wieder mehr Weitsicht und Engagement»

Interview mit Nachhaltigkeitsexperte Peter Messerli von der Wyss Academy for Nature an der Universität Bern

Mit der Agenda 2030 hat sich die Staatengemeinschaft 2015 einen wichtigen Werte-Kompass für eine weltweit nachhaltige Entwicklung gegeben. In diesem Jahr ist «Halbzeit». Eine Pandemie, die Klimakrise und der Krieg in der Ukraine sorgen für grosse Rückschritte. Was es nun braucht, erklärt Peter Messerli* im Interview mit Polit-Sichten. Für ihn ist klar: Vielversprechende Ansätze liegen längst auf dem Tisch. Was fehlt, ist Mut, Engagement und der politische Wille.


Hier können Sie mehr über dieses Interview erfahren. 

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With a multitude of experts around the world working on the issues surrounding our climate, biodiversity, and land use for the past few decades – why has progress been so slow? How do we ensure that all this knowledge is used where it is needed? At the heart of the Wyss Academy for Nature lies the desire to better combine knowledge with action.  

In 2022, all units within this young organization became fully operational. 61 key staff in Switzerland, Kenya, Madagascar, Peru and Laos put its Strategy for 2022-2024 to the test and working together, sought and tested solutions to our complex, interconnected problems.  


You can read more about this in the Wyss Academy Annual Report for 2022, which is now online.


New Briefing Paper on the management of the protected areas' buffer zones in Madre de Dios

Management of the protected areas’ buffer zones is essential to ensure the integrity of these areas and the socioeconomic wellbeing of its inhabitants. In this briefing paper, researchers from the Wyss Academy for Nature, Conservación Amazónica - ACCA, and the Centre for Development and Environment of the University of Bern highlight the innovative strategic plan of the Tambopata National Reserve Buffer Zone in Madre Dios, in the Peruvian Amazon, and its potential for replication in other protected areas of the country. Read the paper here.

Photo: ©Pavel Martiarena


New opening: Head of Communication & Digital Transformation Analyst

The Wyss Academy for Nature at the University of Bern is happy to announce the opening of two positions: Head of Communication and Digital Transformation Analyst. Qualified candidates motivated to contribute to sustainable transformations for nature and people through innovative solutions, are invited to submit their applications.

Photo: ©Pascale Amez

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Wyss Academy Symposium 

On August 24th 2022, we met – in person and online – for the inaugural Wyss Academy Symposium. It was a chance to demonstrate holistic pathways towards a systemic transformation – in the fields of climate, biodiversity and land use – and network with like-minded experts from around the world. We had the pleasure to co-create the Working Sessions and the Ideathon with Impact Hub Bern & Scaling4Good.

"It was a valuable and inspiring experience to co-create the Wyss Academy Symposium which brought together researchers, practitioners from the field and civil society for finding new pathways for addressing the most pressing challenges of our times." Regula Lenz, Managing Partner, Impact Hub Bern


"Inviting people from different backgrounds allowed to gain insight in different perspectives. It is this variety of perspectives, which makes transformation complex and challenging, but it will make approaches for pathways more robust." Katrin Hauser, President Scaling4Good association

Photo: ©Pascale Amez


How global warming affects astronomical observations

A team of researchers led by the University of Bern, NCCR PlanetS and the Wyss Academy for Nature, including Dr. Marie-Estelle Demory has shown in a study how one of the major challenges of our time – anthropogenic climate change – now even affects our view of the Cosmos


New opening: Professorship in Environmental Governance and Global Development

The Wyss Academy for Nature at the University of Bern is happy to announce the opening of an open-rank Professorship in Environmental Governance and Global Development. Qualified candidates motivated to contribute to sustainable transformations for nature and people are invited to submit their applications:


Bern as a circular society pioneer? Bern Sustainability Days / 21.09.2022

The Wyss Academy will delve into these topics in a workshop at the Bern Sustainability Days. // Wednesday 21. September 2022, 16:00 - 17:30 at Kochergasse 4, 3011 Bern

To attend the workshop and learn more about the Programm, more informations can be found here.


Tatjana von Steiger to become new President of the Board of Trustees at WWF Switzerland

Tatjana von Steiger, Head of Global Policy Outreach at the Wyss Academy for Nature, will take over the role in September of 2022 from Kurt Schmid, whose term on the Board of Trustees is coming to an end after nine years. Von Steiger is very excited about her new role and sees it as a great responsibility: "Climate change, biodiversity loss and growing inequalities require advocates and institutions like the WWF to work toward a transformation of systems, so that they can continue to serve people and nature in the future. In doing so, it is central that WWF Switzerland always critically reflects on its own strategy, and remains agile and adaptive so that it can adequately respond to change and continue to effectively advance its mission."

Tatjana von Steiger leads and coordinates the Wyss Academy's relations with actors in various global bodies, as well as at the interface of science, politics and society. From 2001 to 2020, von Steiger worked at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). For the last three years, she was Deputy Head of the SDC's Global Cooperation Department. Before that, she worked on the development of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as Minister and Team Leader for Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Affairs at the Swiss Mission to the UN in New York.

"I would like to express my sincere thanks to Kurt Schmid for his inspiring and committed work as President of the Board of Trustees," said Thomas Vellacott, CEO of WWF Switzerland. "In Tatjana von Steiger, WWF Switzerland will be gaining a personality as President who has shown a persuasive commitment to sustainability in her career to date, and who understands how to win over partners from various areas of society, the public and private sectors, science, philanthropy and civil society for joint action in favour of people and nature."


Armando Valdés-Velásquez joins the South America Hub as Senior Advisor

We are thrilled to announce that our South America Hub team is growing! We wish a warm welcome to Armando Valdés-Velásquez, who will our senior advisor within the South America Hub.🌿 Read more about it in this short interview.


What does the Oberland-Ost as a climate neutral region look like?

On June 17, 2022 the CDE hosted together with the Wyss Academy and the Canton of Bern a workshop to define possible pathways with different stakeholders from tourism, municipalities and local businesses. 👉 

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Our 2021 Annual Report is now available

At a time in which the world's attention has been captured by one crisis after the other - most recently, the war against Ukraine - we must not neglect one of the most enduring and potentially, most threatening crises that humanity faces today: the imminent threat to its environment. The Wyss Academy was founded to provide a new approach to dealing with this crisis and its interconnected problems. Having made considerable steps toward becoming fully operational over the past year, we now look forward to new projects, and to further growing our initial efforts.

You can read about the progress made in 2021 in many fields, and the challenges we had to address in our new Annual Report, linked here. This year, we optimized it for you for online viewing. For a detailed look at our finances, the Financial Report can also be accessed online


The Regional Hubs Teams are growing

We are thrilled to announce that our Regional Hub teams are growing! We wish a warm welcome to Sheila Funnell and Benson Okita, who are joining the East Africa Hub and to Miguel Saravia, who will be directing the South America Hub.🌿 Read more about them on our Regional Hub pages.


Swiss Science celebrates Hansjörg Wyss

More than half a billion Swiss francs have been granted over 10 years to groundbreaking research
projects in Switzerland within three different Wyss centers in Zürich, Geneva and Bern, including the Wyss Academy for Nature. This makes entrepreneur and philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss one of the major private donors for Swiss science. Wyss was celebrated today as the laureate of the 2022 Gallatin Award of the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce. The laudatory address was given by Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin. Read more about this award in the accompanying press release and fact sheet.

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Wyss Academy joins swisscleantech

"How do we move from proven knowledge to sustainable action?" This question is equally central for the Wyss Academy for Nature and swisscleantech. The Wyss Academy has joined swisscleantech and looks forward to this future partnership.

Both organisations aim to find sustainable solutions to climate change and place great emphasis on innovation, networking and knowledge exchange. This work requires collaboration and thus the involvement of civil society, business, politics and science. Numerous touch points exist in their activities in Switzerland, such as in the fields of circular economy or CO2-neutral tourism regions - the Wyss Academy thus accompanies the tourism region and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Oberland-Ost towards CO2-neutrality. On the topic of climate-neutral cities, swisscleantech recently co-organised an event and invited members of the public to a discussion on sustainable travel with Google Switzerland, myclimate, the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and AccorHotels.

"A just and sustainable world is possible. Addressing climate change requires a broad coalition and a shared vision based on factual evidence. We look forward to this partnership," says Matthias Schmid-Huberty, COO of Wyss Academy for Nature.

"The Wyss Academy for Nature and swisscleantech are united by the goal of making much faster progress in climate protection. Both organisations bring together business, science and politics. That is why we are looking forward to exchanging knowledge and working together on concrete projects." says Fabian Etter, Co-President of swisscleantech.

Read more about this news and the swisscleantech organization (in German and French) on the swisscleantech website.


Wyss Academy gains Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee of the Wyss Academy for Nature was constituted in December of 2021. This independent unit of international experts plays an important role in ensuring that the Wyss Academy remains an impact-driven organization. Its members, nominated for 3 years, provide recommendations and strategic advice to the Board of the Wyss Academy, to its Director and to its Executive Management. The Wyss Academy is delighted to introduce the current members of the Committee on the following page.

Image by Matthew Smith

Statement on Swiss environmental act revision

In February, the consultation procedure on the partial revision of the Swiss environmental protection act was opened. The Wyss Academy for Nature has submitted its statement. The Wyss Academy considers the partial revision of the environmental protection act to be a cautious but important step in the right direction. Overall, however, the revision falls short in its ambitions.

For the full Wyss Academy statement (in German), please click here.

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Wyss Academy presents 15 Bern Hub projects

At a media event on September 21st, representatives of the Canton of Bern and of the Wyss Academy for Nature presented 15 projects entrusted to the Bern Hub of the Wyss Academy. Using the example of the Lörmoos raised bog nature preserve, they demonstrated how new solutions are being devised with a systemic approach, at the intersection of the areas of climate change, biodiversity and land use.


According to Peter Messerli, Director of the Wyss Academy of Nature, a combination of science, practice and innovation is essential: "At the same, it is more urgent than ever that we rigorously transform knowledge into action."


More information can be found in our media release, available in German and French


Wyss Academy Declaration on Food Systems

The Wyss Academy for Nature has issued a Declaration on Food Systems as official feedback to the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit. The declaration is the result of the very first Wyss Academy Dialogues with Purpose, a series of workshops in which participants from four regions (Central Europe, East Africa, South-East Asia and South-America) discussed region-specific challenges with a wide range of global stakeholders, representing the areas of science, policy, civil society and the private sector.

The Wyss Academy Declaration on Food Systems calls for a fundamental transformation of economic, social, and financial systems, in order to harmonize food systems and nature conservation and foster just relations between people and nature. Despite significant differences in perspective, three opportunities for harmonizing food systems with nature conservation, climate protection, and human wellbeing were identified as relevant across all regions: promoting opportunities for youth within the agri-food system, realizing nature-positive and just food production, and bridging the disconnect between consumers and producers in order to achieve fairer food supply chains. The declaration proposes several principles and entry points as a foundation for its call to action.


The full declaration as submitted to the UN Food System Summit 2021 can be found here.


What it takes to protect biodiversity

The need for transforming human-environmental systems has become all too apparent. In an article in Rural 21, the International Journal for Rural Development, Dr. Peter Messerli, Director of the Wyss Academy for Nature and Tatjana von Steiger, the Wyss Academy's Head of Global Policy Outreach review the prospects for putting such a transformation into practice. In doing so, they stress that reconciling human with environmental well-being requires a fundamental rethink process in which many voices need to be heard. Read More


New forms of engagement at the Wyss Academy

The exhibition and meeting space "Habitat" of the Wyss Academy for Nature in Bern will newly present the work "Morphologies", which explores the moment of wonder towards nature that is common to art and science. At the same time, the Wyss Academy is addressing a pressing issue in the field of sustainable development: Engaging with people from research, politics, business, and agriculture on four continents, the second round of the Wyss Academy Cross-Regional Dialogues will take place on July 15th, discussing viable approaches to a sustainable food system. Read More


Wyss Academy Cross-Regional Dialogues on May 25

The Wyss Academy for Nature is organizing a series of workshops on ‘harmonizing food systems and nature conservation – towards just nature-people relations’. A cross-regional online dialogue will be held on May 25 from 10:30 to 12:30 am (CET) for Switzerland and Laos and from 3 pm to 5 pm (CET) for Kenya and Peru.
A synthesis will summarize the insights gained from the cross-regional dialogue and these will be discussed during a global dialogue on July 15. The results of the whole process will be synthesized in a Wyss Academy Declaration and submitted to the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021.
If you are interested in joining the regional dialogue, please register under the following link: After your registration you will receive the agenda and the link to the meeting.


Johann Schneider-Ammann joins the Wyss Academy Board

The Wyss Academy for Nature is delighted to welcome former Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann as a new Board member. The Swiss entrepreneur and politician was a member of the Federal Council from 2010 to 2018, and in that capacity held the office of President of the Swiss Confederation in 2016. He was head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER). Born in Sumiswald in the canton of Bern, Mr. Schneider-Ammann studied at the ETH in Zurich and at INSEAD in Fontainebleau. As an entrepreneur, he was Chairman of the Ammann Group and held several board of directors mandates. He was also Vice President of Economiesuisse, the umbrella organization for Swiss business. Peter Messerli, Director of the Wyss Academy is very pleased about Johann Schneider-Ammann's acceptance. "Mr. Schneider-Ammann's international expertise, his numerous contacts and his roots in the canton of Bern represent an enormous opportunity for our cause."

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Dr. Elke Kellner receives Global Marie Curie Fellowship

Despite near-global consensus on Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, unresolved and politically contentious trade-offs have undermined implementation. It is widely agreed that the goals will only be achieved if trade-offs are addressed and transformed. This is the subject of the GOVTROFF project, recently awarded the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship. Working together with the Wyss Academy for Nature at the University of Bern and the University of Arizona, Dr. Elke Kellner aims to understand how complex multi-level trade-offs are addressed in multi-actor, multi-interest governance systems at UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and how they can be transformed to meet emergent 21st-century environmental and social threats. Read more

Image by Noah Buscher

Circular economy? SHIFT on May 4 - Wyss Academy to take part in debate

Do we need to reassess the question of economic growth? What is value-adding? Wyss Academy member Tatjana von Steiger will explore these and other questions in a panel discussion at the SHIFT 2021 online event in Bern, Switzerland. SHIFT Switzerland aims to promote the transition to a circular economy. At SHIFT 2021 on Tuesday, May 4, the event will be broadcast live from the Kursaal Bern (in German) - with a digital audience. Participation welcome! Click here to register

Image by Markus Spiske

Transformation of a system: Consultation on the Sustainable Development Strategy 2030

The Swiss Sustainable Development Strategy 2030 should contribute to system transformation. Switzerland’s wealth heavily depends on a functioning global system. Therefore the Wyss Academy advocates that greater focus be placed on positive interactions between national and international measures. More importance should be given to sustainable production, especially the circular economy. Finally, we support more binding agreements in the involvement of different actors, so that Switzerland can achieve its goals and become a hub for sustainable financial services. Full Statement


Executive Council applies for a credit for innovative research and implementation center 

A world-leading research and implementation center is to be established in the field of nature and humanity at the University of Bern. The application-oriented center aims to improve nature conservation and environmental protection in line with the needs of economic and social development. The University of Bern, with the involvement of the Canton of Bern, will prepare a funding application worth CHF 100 million for the attention of the Hansjörg Wyss Foundation by April 2019. If successful, the university and the canton would each contribute CHF 50 million to this center over a period of ten years. The Executive Council will request a credit from the Grand Council in the 2019 spring session. 


The Wyss Academy's ongoing projects

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