The Swiss Sustainability Week (SSW) promotes sustainability at Swiss higher education institutions and in society at all levels. For this purpose Local Sustainability Weeks (LSW) are initiated, networked and supported at various higher education institutions throughout Switzerland. The format of the Sustainability Week was born in Zurich and has become a success story. A Sustainability Week means that during one week all participating institutions become a think tank for sustainability. Through various free events like lectures, panel discussions, workshops etc. we want to set a focus on sustainable development. Further on we are engaged in higher education politics in order to set concrete demands to our institutions and turn them into role models for a sustainable future.
The main goal of the SSW is the promotion of sustainability at Swiss higher education institutions and in society at various levels though local sustainability weeks. This is achieved through the following principles:
1. Switzerland-wide networking and cooperation
2. Implementation of the national VSS and VSN demand paper at the higher education institutions
3. Education and inspiration of students, academics and the public through events during one week
The Swiss Sustainability Week also operates sustainable itself through underlying principles (i.e. no flights, vegetarian food at apéros, transparent and democratic organization, etc.).
What we understand as sustainable development
The Swiss Sustainability Week considers four main aspects for its understanding of sustainability:
1. Priority model of sustainability (a.k.a. strong sustainability)
2. Local, regional and global relations
3. Inter-generational effects
4. Stepping in action personally, politically, societally
The priority model not only contains the three dimensions ecology, society and economy, but relates them to each other and represents a priority relationship. This fortifies the notion that society is dependent on an intact nature and that the economy moves within the boundaries of society and ecology. This clarifies that protecting ecosystems has the highest priority in decision making, followed by social and then economic aspects. Sustainability is taking place not just locally, but regionally and globally as well. It is important to consider the big picture in decision making instead of focusing i.e. on local effect only. Efforts on different levels should be related to each other and not be exclusive. At the same time, our actions should not only allow today’s but also future generations to satisfy their own needs and to live a decent life. Sustainability is versatile and complex. Therefore it must be promoted holistically from a personal, societal and political perspective.