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Collaboratio Helvetica

collaboratio helvetica: Together for a better world  

Photo: John Patrick Walder
Photo: John Patrick Walder

Wouldn’t it be nice if the world were a better place? Hardly anyone would have an issue with that question, but the idea of what a better world would look like is bound to differ. The UN asked this question anyway, and after many years of discussion issued a list of 17 points in September 2015. The list is made up of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – on an economic, social and ecological level, including goals to end hunger and poverty, as well as gender equality and quality education for everyone.

Collaboratio helvetica is now advocating to reach these and other SDGs relevant for Switzerland, such as sustainable consumption and production, and fighting climate change. For this the pioneering project aims to bring a variety of players around one table to achieve more through a joint effort.

Photo: John Patrick Walder
Photo: John Patrick Walder

A joint approach

For Stefan Schöbi, Director Engagement Migros, the greatest potential of the project lies, in addition to its concept, in the fact that it structurally strengthens the Swiss co-working industry, which, because of its diversity, has not yet been able to adequately serve as an opinion leader or developer. “We believe that significant social challenges are best approached collectively,” says Schöbi.

The idea behind collaboratio helvetica has existed for some time, but in December 2016 a group of the project’s initiators began working on the final touches by founding an association. At the end of January 2017, Oswald H. König and Nora Wilhelm were named co-directors, marking the official kick-off for the project.

Just one month after being appointed, König and Wilhelm invited an initial group of players from all around Switzerland to a co-creative workshop. In addition to the founding organisations Impact Hub Zürich, Impact Hub Bern, Impact Hub Geneva and Coworking Switzerland, the workshop included representatives from think tanks like foraus, euforia and Greenbuzz, from Swiss federal offices like ARE (Federal Office for Spatial Development) and FOEN (Federal Office for the Environment), as well as from associations like economiesuisse and WWF. The mission was to define challenges, make suggestions for solutions, but especially also to determine the conditions and needs of the players involved. Reflecting the diversity of the group of 30 players were their expectations – despite this, a common, consistent level of energy and motivation was palpable. “There will continue to be friction in future,” says König, “but this is important and necessary for collaboration, because it is the only way we can really reach the core of the issue, in which creativity and new ideas can develop.”

"There will continue to be friction in future but this is important and necessary for collaboration."

The United Nations’ SDGs form the framework for the establishment of collaboratio helvetica, but the initial focus will be on those areas with a need for action in Switzerland – such as access to sustainable energy or sustainable economic growth. “Before change can be brought about, it is most important to recognize the fact that change is necessary,” explains Wilhelm. Collaboratio helvetica is currently still in what König and Wilhelm call the “inspirational phase”: “We are gathering all the information that’s out there, and will use that to create our continuing concept.”

The collaboratio helvetica website is currently under construction and will be up shortly.

Links with more information:
Agenda 2030 for sustainable development