Global change, such as population growth, land degradation and climate change, has a much greater impact on developing countries than on Switzerland and other developed countries. In poor countries even small changes may lead to existential difficulties.
Prof. Hans Hurni, director of the National Competence Center for Research «North-South» discussed the challenges regarding water supply. He showed that, within a watershed, water usage and pollution up-streams may cause serious conflicts with down-stream communities. While this is presently of no concern for Switzerland we may face similar water distribution and pollution challenges in the coming decades.
Hurni points out several needs for action:
- enhanced cooperation between countries within the same watershed
- long term adaptation strategies
- more efficient water usage
Additional actions for Switzerland:
- stronger focus of the international cooperation on global change issues and adaptation measures in contrast to instant problem solving
Health is another critical topic which particularly affects developing countries. Prof. Marcel Tanner, director of the Swiss Tropical Institute in Basel, shows, that development is tightly linked to health. Global change puts additional pressure on the health problem. Of special concern from a health point of view are climate change, population dynamics and -structure, migration, urbanization, fresh- and waste water, and changes in land use. As many of these issues are interconnected, the societal, health and ecological aspects should be tackled together. Both speakers stressed the importance of research partnerships as a stable means to transfer knowledge and technology.