Swiss research and innovation to protect the environment: A longstanding tradition
In 2021, the Swiss Embassy in Australia organized several events celebrating the contribution of Swiss research and innovation in the field of environmental protection. Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are critically important for the Earth’s climate and ocean systems. Understanding how they respond to global warming – and how they responded to previous episodes of climate change – is a key objective for polar researchers. Their findings, in turn, are essential if we want governments to take information-based decisions for the future of the planet. Antarctic science is globally important, yet scientists from many nations lack access to Antarctica. Coordinated international efforts and collaboration is therefore crucial.
In this spirit, the Embassy of Switzerland in Australia celebrated in 2021 more than a century of scientific collaboration in Antarctica between Switzerland, Australia and the United Kingdom. The celebrations in Hobart, Australia’s gateway to Antarctica, included the unveiling of a memorial commemorating the contribution of Dr Xavier Mertz from Basel to the first Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1914), as well as a seminar with three leading polar scientists who shared their perspectives on current areas of research focus and future cooperative endeavors and an official reception.
The full day program contributed to promote the Swiss higher education system and brought the Swiss and Australian polar communities closer together. In addition, it offered a platform for the Swiss Embassy to communicate the importance of polar research and Switzerland’s engagement to combat climate change to a broad public given the presence of four national networks covering the different events.
The Swiss Embassy also presented the exhibition 'Can tech save the world? Swiss solutions to protect the environment' in collaboration with Presence Switzerland (PRS) through an ongoing roadshow spanning multiple cities. In 2021, presentations in Hobart in collaboration with the University of Tasmania and in Canberra with the Science Diplomats Club raised the profile of Switzerland’s innovation system and its cleantech start-ups by showcasing specific examples of technology transfer across industry and academic silos.