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Swiss Resources Forum 2016 – Meeting Report (in German)
Authors: Mathias Schluep, Rafael Widmer, Cecilia Matasci, María Lucía Híjar (WRF)
Publication date: 2017
This is an analysis of the first Swiss Resources Forum (rf-ch), “Ressourcen Forum Schweiz”, held on 1st December 2016 in Dübendorf, Switzerland. The Swiss Resources Forum was created to establish an active interaction and communication about the sustainable use of resources, in particular of raw materials, between decision-makers in politics and business, actors from the research sector as well as civil society representatives in Switzerland.
Natural resources are a foundation for the social and economic well-being of our society. If they were not available in sufficient quality or quantity, our economic system and quality of life of the population would be compromised. The exploitation of natural resources is not sustainable and muss be rethought. Research activities about this issue have often concentrated on the problem and its solution within separated stakeholder groups, without adequate interaction and systemic thinking.
The first conference, named rf-ch 2016, focused on the following raw materials categories: ores, industrial and construction materials. The rf-ch 2016 provided six plenary speeches as an introduction to the thematic focus From the Energy to the Resource Revolution. Interactive workshops took place focusing on issues such as Target Visions for a Resource-Saving, Future-Oriented Switzerland; Mechanisms of Action for a Resource-Efficient Infrastructure as well as Life Cycle and Resource Efficiency of Infrastructure. Poster presentations displayed the most important activities for the sustainable use of resources in Switzerland. A final panel discussion with the title Resource Revolution – Quo vadis? discussed the future and unanswered points of the conference.
The rf-ch 2016 was able to provide multiple entry points tackling the challenges on the pathway to a resource revolution in Switzerland. Firstly, a change in our values is needed in order to create a raw-materials efficient economy. Switzerland can follow international objectives, as for example the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Secondly, our current economic system is heavily dependent on the supply of critical raw materials. Therefore, besides efficiency and diversification strategies for the use of these resources, efforts for more sufficiency may be needed. Finally, the different stakeholders need to get together in order to find common solutions for contributing to the resource revolution. Many different stakeholders have currently opposed interests, hence dialogue and consensus finding is key for a raw materials-efficient economy. Despite these difficulties and challenges a path towards a resource revolution exists. A positive example comes from the building sector with its many ongoing initiatives. These show the vast potential of action and indicate that a higher raw materials efficiency is certainly possible.
The first Swiss Resources Forum established a basis for knowing where Switzerland stands regarding the raw materials issue, which developments are possible and which options for action exist. On this basis, the rf-ch shall continue to develop innovative and effective solutions for the sustainable use of raw materials in Switzerland, using the format of a recurring event. Nonetheless, the rf-ch should not only be perceived as a conference but more as building a community which wants to ensure its long-term impact. Thus, the dialogue is continuously fostered and visions developed, and solutions will be supported and implemented on a long-term basis. The results of the conducted participants’ survey showed a vast interest among the participants in favour of such continuation of the Swiss Resources Forum.