Bern, Press releases, 08.12.2014

At the annual Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) end of year event on Monday evening, Swiss President Didier Burkhalter announced the winners of the "Youth and Ideas" competition he launched during the Ambassadors and International Network Conference in Milan in August. Open to the youngest FDFA employees, the idea of the competition was to launch projects to put forward the values Switzerland's foreign policy must promote according to the Federal Constitution. These are peace, human rights, democracy, sustainable development and the alleviation of poverty. The jury said all of the 41 projects entered were of the highest quality. A prize was awarded to the best three.

On the stage with the young winners of the competition, Lausanne singer Bastian Baker (centre), the President of the Swiss Confederation, Didier Burkhalter, and his wife. ©

The projects awarded a prize by the head of the FDFA concern the use of new technologies in education  (collection of used mobile devices, smartphones and tablets in Switzerland for use in the education of refugees in refugee camps); initiation of a participatory funding platform for social projects; creation of a network of "Maisons de la paix" based on the Geneva model (which would act as satellites to the "Maison de la Paix" in Geneva  – “PeaceSat”).

The projects were put forward by young members of the Human Security Division (HSD) in Bern and the consulate general in Stuttgart, and by two young members of the Europe, Central Asia, Council of Europe and OSCE Division (ECACOD) in Bern. A fourth project, entered by a young staff member at the Swiss embassy in Buenos Aires received a special award. Designed to reduce drop-out rates among school children, this project uses second-hand bikes from Switzerland in Argentina to allow school children to get quickly from their homes to school, which is sometimes a very long way away.

In total, 41 projects were submitted between August and September by young staff members of the FDFA working in the four corners of the world. The competition was part of the theme chosen for the 2014 Swiss presidency: "Switzerland and the world: youth, work, openness". The projects submitted had to promote the values of Switzerland's foreign policy and international cooperation: peace, human rights, democracy, sustainable development and alleviating poverty. The projects were evaluated by a jury presided over by the former ambassador, Pierre Combernous, on the criteria of relevance, originality, feasibility and effectiveness. The FDFA will consider the possibility of implementing these four projects.

Mr Burkhalter announced the prize winners during the annual FDFA end of year event, to which he invited 300 young people he had met during various events this year. This year's performer was Bastian Baker, a young Swiss singer who embodies the values of youth, work and openness.

At this event, Mr Burkhalter was also pleased to announce that Bastian Baker had agreed to become a project ambassador as part of the "Democracy Without Borders" initiative, launched on 10 August with the backing of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). As project ambassador, Bastian Baker will take part in the "Nile Project" in Egypt to promote the sustainable use of the Nile Basin through music, education and innovation.  Musicians from the 11 countries the Nile flows through are already involved in the project, making Switzerland the 12th country to send a musician.

Further information:

Democracy without borders

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