154 participants at last year's #GREENSUMMIT2017!

In a range of keynotes and presentations from politics, markets, and the society, regional and international experts discussed sustainability. Green Summit 2017 saw industry representatives present current sustainable projects, an IT workshop focusing on sustainability in the Digital Age, next to presentations of practically relevant research from sustainable financial academics. Other presentations tackled renewables, e-mobility, and the emergence of sustainability reporting.

Unconditional basic income

Prof. Dr. Martin Wenz delivered food for thought, giving his presentation on „unconditional basic income and sustainability“, summarizing its pros and cons. Setting the stage, Wenz started with a quote from Siemens AG’s own Joe Kaeser: “The unconditional basic income is inevitable; so that we can prevent to leave behind those who no longer can keep up with the global pace.” So too, Wenz associated problems with a basic income payable irrespective of a person’s age, marital status, income, or occupation. While today, the state takes care of the people’s needs, in the case of an unconditional basic income, the government’s fiduciary duties would end with the payment of a bill. On one hand, an unconditional basic income would liberalize markets and incentivize young entrepreneurs to take on risks, on the other, the loss of social security would elevate the tension in today’s businesses.

„Coalition of the willing“

Thomas Vellacott, CEO to WWF’s Switzerland branch, delivered the day’s main keynote on the upheaval that would have to be anticipated by the economy and society following the transition to global sustainability. Vellacott declared this transition to have become a reality. As much as major enterprises and nations have realized a preservation of the status quo to be inadequate. For the first time in the world’s history, economic growth has continued without an increase in CO2 emissions. China turning away from coal power and automotive, an industry expecting greater changes now than in the past 50 years, show sustainable investments to have merit. On the other hand, Vellacott emphasized how society would be “hit” by the changes associated with the transition, various occupational areas being affected. He called for a “coalition of the willing”: “Climate change leaves no time”.

Panel discussion

In a panel discussion led by CSSP’s Oliver Oehry, Prince Michael of Liechtenstein (Industrie und Finanzkontor Est.), Thomas Vellacott, and Brigitte Frey (Climate Change and Sustainability Service) tackled the impacts of sustainability. Prince Michael saw no question of timing in sustainability. Long-term decisions should foster financial benefits. Where regulation always is authored in the spirit of its circumstances and should be resorted to “as sparingly as possible”, competition is the most apt control device. In contrast, Frey doubted the speed of change if the transition to sustainability is not accompanied by regulation. Especially the impact of major enterprises on the society should be governed by means of regulation. Vellacott did not engage in the juxtapostion of liberalization and regulation. He instead advocated the increasing transparency as enforced by market demand, the technical opportunities arising through peer-to-peer transparency, as well as the disclosures as mandated by regulation. There was the agreement among the panel participants of needing to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society; as much as digital communication and the flow of information are essential contributors to this transition.

Zurich Klimapreis – Contributions to climate protection

Closing the program, Zurich Switzerland announced the Switzerland and Liechtenstein winners of the 2016 Zurich Klimapreis. The projects, ranging from industrial production, over consumer staples, logistics, mobility, to real estate and living, were nominated on the basis of their contribution to climate protection and sustainability. The Green Summit 2018 received Solaxess SA (Neuenburg) as guests, whose photovoltaics modules had secured the 2016 win.