International Conference of SUDAC – swissuniversities Development and Cooperation Network and KFPE. The focus was placed on research partnerships in and with the Global South. With its programmes Consortia for Education and Research (COFERs) and Clusters of Cooperation in the Global South (CLOC), swissuniversities provides important instruments to foster these research partnerships.
Some 140 participants discussed potential pathways towards implementing the 2030 Agenda, including how the scientific community and the responsible decision-makers in government can contribute.
Marina Carobbio Guscetti, President of the Swiss National Council and the highest-ranking Swiss official at the conference, is convinced that “national networks and international cooperation are essential if we are to master challenges like migration, climate change or social injustice”.
Boniface Kiteme, Director of the Center for Training and Integrated Research (CETRAD) in Kenya underlined, that “We should be hearing alarm bells when looking at the extremely low levels of investment made in research in low and middle-income countries” and he stressed that “capacity building goes far beyond the academic sector”.
“We are standing at the threshold of an all-decisive decade,” said Peter Messerli, co-chair of the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) and professor at the University of Bern. "A 'moon-shot’ mission for Sustainability Science is urgently needed to tackle global challenges!"
“Seed money works miracles,” was the résumé of Michael Hengartner, President of swissuniversities. Even modest funding can have a strong impact.
Ambassador Mauro Moruzzi emphasised that there is a lack of communication about the large amount of federal funding invested in research and university education.
“Help us to create solutions,” was what Tatjana von Steiger, Deputy Head of the Global Cooperation Department of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), demanded of the researchers and academics. She added "if we do not mange to solve the knowledge divide we will fail."
Jean-Luc Barras, Head of International Cooperation at the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), added that SNSF plans to develop instruments that transfer knowledge into policymaking and industry.
Marcel Tanner, President of Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) pointed to projects in francophone West Africa in the 1970s were participatory methods in the agriculture sector led to major transformations in farming. “We should never forget that great advances are possible.”
Christa Markwalder, National Councilmember warned that “we mustn’t forget that the private sector has an enormous amount of leverage”. Politicians rely on information from academia, she continued, and she is convinced that a more proactive communication strategy would further strengthen the impact of scholarly findings.