Science depends on community service, that is, on individuals working for the collective good. An obvious example is reviewing scientific manuscripts and proposals. Of course, as scientists, we also need to have our own manuscripts and proposals reviewed so providing these services is not entirely altruistic. Organizing sessions or symposia at conferences also brings professional benefits of visibility and networking.
But what about activities that extend beyond the scientific community? The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) is a global network established in 2012 by the UN Secretary-General. SDSN mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development. SDSN has national and regional networks worldwide, including SDSN Switzerland. Today, SDSN Switzerland counts 37 universities, research centers, civil society organizations, student associations and other knowledge centers (including Eawag) as members and 3 government agencies and foundations as partners.
I see the SDSN Switzerland network as a benefit for Eawag. We share common goals with the other members and partners. By pooling our expertise, capabilities, and contacts, the SDSN Switzerland network can add value to our individual activities and projects. This increases our potential to contribute to the transformational change needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the Agenda 2030 and to fulfill the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
But why take on a leadership role as co-Chair of SDSN Switzerland? Since its launch in February 2018, SDSN Switzerland has been ably led by co-Chairs Urs Wiesmann and Océane Dayer. As an emeritus professor, Urs decided last year that he wanted to have more freedom to travel and more time for other activities (both of which seem a bit ironic now). Urs and the managing director of SDSN Switzerland, Andreas Obrecht, asked me if I would be willing to consider becoming co-Chair. For me, this offered an interesting opportunity to work with the members of the SDSN Switzerland Leadership Council, its Executive Committee and Secretariat. I fully support the SDSN goals and, as co-Chair, I hope that I can bring the leadership experience that I have gained at Eawag to this organization. I also feel that I could use my own professional network to support SDSN Switzerland and help it grow. Lastly, I hope to use my position as co-Chair to foster cooperation among the members and partners of SDSN Switzerland.
I know that many of us at Eawag participate in many national organizations (listed here). I invite all of you to consider whether these organizations might benefit from membership or partnership with SDSN Switzerland. Individuals are warmly welcomed to sign up for the SDSN Switzerland newsletter here.