«Swiss Resources Forum» at Empa
The Resource Revolution in Switzerland has begun
The first Swiss Resources Forum held last week has revealed an overwhelming interest in raw materials and sustainable resources management and technologies. Participants from Swiss industries discussed with Swiss policymakers and researchers how to secure the supply of critical metals and other resources needed for renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies, innovation and economic growth. Future resource-efficiency strategies should also contribute to sustainability and human development in developing countries. It was stated that Switzerland not only needs an Energy Revolution (away from fossil fuels) but also a Resource Revolution.
Matthias Bölke, swisscleantech-president and CEO & Country President of Schneider Electric and Feller AG estimated that resource efficiency must increase with a factor 3 to keep global temperature rise below the 2 degrees Celsius. “There is an enormous potential to boost efficiency, in particular in the building and construction sector”. Gunther Stephan, president of Swiss National Sustainability Research Program (NFP 73), emphasised the importance of a permanent exchange of knowledge between researchers and decision-makers in industry and governments. Other speakers included Kurt Lanz (economiesuisse), Peter Waeber (bluesign technologies ag), Karine Siegwart (Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN), Brigitte Buchmann (Empa), Bruno Oberle (EPFL), Patrick Wäger (Empa), Annick Lalive d’ Epinay (city of Zürich), Adriaan Slob (TNO, the Netherlands) and Patrik Geisselhardt (Swiss Recycling). The panel discussion was moderated by Barbara Dubach (engageability).
As Mathias Schluep (WRF) pointed out, “the debate around the resource issue is not as easy to communicate as for example climate change related discussions”. This challenge was addressed during the Swiss Resources Forum workshops, where a wide range of solutions and opportunities for Switzerland were presented. Furthermore, participants got to know important Swiss key initiatives and projects by means of interactive poster presentations during the Resources Market. A visit to the NEST modular research and innovation building of Empa and Eawag was included in the program. In the NEST building new technologies, materials and systems are tested, researched, and validated in realistic conditions.
The multi-stakeholder conference was organised by a wide range of Swiss partners, including the World Resources Forum (WRF), FOEN, Empa, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences a+, the Swiss Network of Mineral Resources (NEROS), the Foundation “Entwicklungsfonds Seltene Metalle” (ESM), Ecos and the Swiss Sustainable Business Network (Öbu). The Netherlands was the first guest country, emphasizing the potential for good cooperation between Swiss and Dutch companies in resource-efficient solutions.
A full report reflecting the plenary discussions, as well as outcomes of the various workshops will be published in the weeks to come.