Sustainability Week 2020: A tough edition

This year’s edition was tough as a lot of Sustainability Weeks had to deal with the coronavirus pandemic creeping up. However, the local organizers handled it really well and a lot of the planned events could be held with some restrictions. However, four Sustainability Weeks had to be cancelled. Even though we are sad that some Sustainability Week Teams did not get the chance to see the fruits of their hard work, we are proud of the creativity, dedication and team spirit displayed by all the members!

Visitors at the Sustainability Week Lausanne.

The Swiss Sustainability Week 2020 started off with the opening event in Bern on the 27th of February – with approximately 200 attendees! The Opening Event was organized by the Sustainability Week Bern, BENE (association for sustainable development at the university of Bern) and the Sustainability Week Switzerland, who invited the interested public and all Local Sustainability Weeks to reflect on climate justice. Speakers from different disciplines and backgrounds, among them representatives of Caritas and Biovision, talked about their view on climate justice and motivated the visitors to act. Over the past decades it has become clear that the ones who contributed most to climate change will not have to bear the main burden of its consequences. Questions about justice and responsibility for the climate crisis are therefore increasingly the subject of political and social debates. The event was held in German with live translation in French.

After the Opening Event, the local sustainability weeks started to be implemented. All over Switzerland, more than 400 volunteers have planned 15 Local Sustainability Weeks with over 300 events this year. In 2020, we were able to extend our reach and involve 35 Higher Education Institutions, as compared to 25 in 2018. Unfortunately, the Sustainability Weeks in Rapperswil, Lugano, Geneva and Valais had to be cancelled completely because of the coronavirus. The other 11 Sustainability Weeks could take place, even though some cities had to deal with restrictions and several events could not be carried out because of the circumstances. In every case the uncertainty and rapidly changing official measures meant a lot of additional work for the organizers. The effect of the virus was also clearly impacting the number of visitors. Approximately 7,500 people attended the events, as compared to 17,000 in 2019. 

If you want to know more about how the Local Sustainability Weeks dealt with the situation in Switzerland and abroad, check out this article (in German) published on FHnews. And if you are interested in getting an impression of what the Sustainability Weeks 2020 looked like, you can check out the photo gallery on the same website.

We would like to thank everybody who has been involved in making this year’s edition of the Sustainability Week happen and all the visitors for showing your interest and support. Together, we can make our schools, our communities, and our world more sustainable. See you again in 2021!

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