SDC Expert Network for Sustainable Development
The 2030 Agenda encourages the public, private and civil society sectors to become actively involved in the dialogue on sustainable development. This year's edition of Rendez-vous Bundesplatz answers the call with a light show that will transform the Federal Palace into Planet Hope. SDC specialists cross national borders, putting their expertise and resources to work to carry out a variety of projects to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
In honour of Rendez-vous Bundesplatz, the Federal Square is decorated with the 17 symbols of the sustainable development goals of Agenda 2030. © FDFA
The tenth edition of Rendez-vous Bundesplatz invites visitors to Bern to explore and discuss the issue of sustainability, one of the cornerstones of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs' (FDFA) Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–2023. Switzerland works towards sustainable development that takes account of three dimensions in equal measure: the environment, the economy and society. Promoting environmental protection, sustainable use of natural resources and sustainable economic and social development are key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which call for cooperation across national borders.
This is where the international cooperation of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) comes in. In what ways is Swiss development cooperation linked to the issue of sustainability and what role do SDC experts deployed around the world play in efforts to achieve the SDG?
SDC experts implement global programmes and long-term projects on the ground
The SDC is carrying out five global programmes focused on climate change and environment, food security, migration and development, water and health. SDC experts are working on a wide range of projects in cooperation with local authorities worldwide, both in emergency situations and long-term projects.
Cooperation in Eastern Europe is a good example: "Switzerland supports what is called “the localisation of SDGs” in Bosnia and Herzegovina in different ways and most of our projects, be it in health, in economic development and job creation, in democratisation and in improving access to basic services for all, even the most excluded, contribute to this effort" explains Deputy Head of Mission Barbara Dätwyler Scheuer from Sarajevo. SDC support for an initiative proposed by the local population is a case in point: "I like very much the example of the city of Bijeljina “Partnership for sustainable development” which has used the SDG framework in a very innovative way with the banking sector in search of solutions for clean energy. This is a concrete contribution to fight climate change locally, and to make sure that everyone has access to affordable and sustainable energy" adds Ms Dätwyler Scheuer.
From climate to education, with the fourth sustainability goal of the 2030 Agenda. For Switzerland, this is a significant tool for reaching people. For example, the education projects carried out in Afghanistan have enabled 19,800 pupils who were forced to leave public schools because of the conflicts and the violence that accompanied them to return to school. By providing school materials and creating remedial classes and safe learning environments, teachers are able to support children in the face of trauma and guide them in their learning. In response to the increase in enrolment rates, a project supported by the SDC is dedicated to improving the quality of education. In cooperation with the Afghan authority responsible, the project offers in-service training to teachers and teacher candidates in 18 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces so that children and young people can benefit from better primary and secondary education.
The sixth of the 17 SDG – access to drinking water and sanitation for all – takes us to the Middle East. The SDC's Global Programme Water has launched the Blue Peace initiative to promote integrated and sustainable management of transboundary water resources between various countries, including Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey and Iraq. The Blue Peace initiative faces a number of challenges, as pressure on freshwater resources is increasing because of urbanisation, population growth, rising per capita consumption and climate change, which further exacerbate water scarcity in the region. The initiative is a concrete contribution to the preservation of peace and security: "This initiative is helping people to understand the importance of thinking outside the box when it comes to water management. It also facilitates dialogue and exchanges despite the region's instability," adds Mufleh Al Alaween, Blue Peace Middle East's regional coordinator in Amman.
Companies and private organisations also have a decisive impact on economic, social and ecological development in poor and emerging economies. Nine out of ten jobs in developing countries are created by the private sector. Partnering with the private sector to implement development projects enables the SDC to achieve its own 2030 Agenda objectives – primarily combating poverty – more effectively. The public and private sectors cooperate in many areas, including joint projects leading to the creation of new products, services, technological developments and innovative business and financing models that benefit poor and marginalised population groups.
The Geneva-based Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), for example, works to implement SDG 3, which focuses on health. Co-founded by the SDC's Global Programme Health, its mission is to guide the discovery, development and delivery of new anti-malarial drugs. Established through a public-private partnership involving several countries, the MMV works with pharmaceutical partners, academic institutions and affected countries to reduce costs and ensure equitable access to high-quality medicines for the most vulnerable groups, such as children and pregnant women. SDC specialists are working to ensure that the innovations developed in partnership with the MMV are sustainable and to promote dialogue between the various partners involved.
Gender equality is another key SDG. The Swiss Capacity Building Facility (SCBF) platform launched by the SDC comprises around 25 partners, mainly Swiss financial institutions and investors. In 2018, the SCBF launched an innovative project in collaboration with the Jordanian Microfund for Women (MfW) to introduce a loan programme tailored to Syrian refugee women. The project provided loan services to some 4,000 Syrian refugee women, enabling them to start a business (such as tailor's shops) and achieve economic independence.
For this tenth edition of "Rendez-vous Bundesplatz" the coloured symbols of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals will emblazon the Bundesplatz in Bern. The light show entitled 'Planet Hope', which was scheduled to run from 16 October to 21 November 2020, has been suspended due to the new Covid-19 measures of the Canton of Bern. The possibility of resuming the show at a later date is currently being discussed with the City of Bern.
The topic of the tenth edition of Rendez-vous Bundesplatz is Planet Hope: a projection on the theme of sustainable development and the importance of safeguarding the planet. © RvB2020