The first Swiss Resources Forum was held in Dübendorf, near Zürich, last week. It revealed an overwhelming interest in raw materials and resources management and technologies. Participants from Swiss industry 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.
The multistakeholder conference, organised by the World Resources Forum with a wide range of Swiss partners, brought together over 100 participants. A work visit to the NEST modular research and innovation building of Empa (Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) and Eawag (Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) was included in the programme.
NEST for innovation
In the NEST, new technologies, materials and systems are tested, researched, and validated in realistic conditions. The first implementation of the building technology “Mesh Mould” will be in NEST. Developed by researchers at the ETH Zurich, it received the Swiss Technology Award 2016, as reported here.
Switzerland not only needs an energy revolution (away from fossil fuels) but also a resources revolution, it was stated. Future resource-efficiency strategies should also contribute to sustainability and human development in developing countries.
Resource and information efficiency
Matthias Bölke, swisscleantech-president and CEO of Schneider Electric und Feller AG, estimated that resource efficiency must increase by a factor 3 in order to keep global temperature rise below the 2 degrees Celsius mark. “Enormous potential can be achieved in particular in the building and construction sectors.”
Gunther Stephan, president of the 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 (BAFU), Brigitte Buchmann (Empa) and Patrik Geisselhardt (Swiss Recycling). The panel discussion was moderated by Barbara Dubach from engageability.
The lunch offered at the Forum was climate neutral, thanks to GES members eaternity. The Netherlands was the first “guest country”, marking the potential for good cooperation between Swiss and Dutch companies in resource-efficient solutions.