Switzerland’s main event at the UN HLPF

Shaping Resilient Societies: Can One Succeed?

Switzerland’s main event at HLPF New York, 9 July 2021

The COVID-19-led crisis has accelerated existing trends; it has deepened inequalities and highlighted vulnerabilities. As such, it represents a setback towards the achievement of the SDGs which, now more than ever, provide a framework for fairer, more resilient and more sustainable societies. 

For this reason, the Federal Council of Switzerland has identified the three topics of 'sustainable consumption and production', 'climate, energy, biodiversity' and 'equal opportunities' as priority issues, and has set goals for the period up to 2030, as well as strategic domestic and foreign policy guidelines for federal government policy. The strategy also sets out how the economy, the financial market and the education, research and innovation sectors can drive forward sustainable development and the framework conditions that are needed to do so.

This event addressed the current crisis and how to brace for future shocks through transversal, cross-sectoral and cross-societal responses. Leading experts highlighted the rationale toward developing sustainable and resilient societies, arguing that this transformation can only take place if pending challenges are co-defined, response mechanisms codesigned, recovery policies complemented and co-monitored by all stakeholders involved. They reflected on data ecosystems, as a tool for evidence-based decision making, as well as compounding effects of global dynamics of change, demographic shifts, urbanization and growing inequalities.
They showed that, in addition to measuring progress, data fosters accountability and that data and monitoring are necessary to ensure no one is left behind.

“Shaping Resilient Societies” Initiative

Taking the COVID-19-led situation and the national and international strategies into account, the University of Zurich (UZH) and the University of Geneva (UNIGE), in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), launched the “Shaping Resilient Societies” initiative one year ago. With a transversal and multi-stakeholder approach, the initiative is dedicated to building resilient and sustainable societies to future shocks. More specifically, it aims at better understanding crises response mechanisms in Switzerland and beyond. Believing that global resilience and sustainability are only achieved through a cross-sectoral and cross-societal approach, the Shaping Resilient Societies community is both diverse and interdisciplinary: it is composed of 60 experts from scholars to private and public sector practitioners through governmental and non-governmental officials.