Top news from our partner swissinfo

  • Switzerland sees record number of cross-border workers

    Wed, 13 Nov 2019 14:00:00 GMT

    The number of people from neighbouring countries commuting to Switzerland for work each day reached a record 325,000 this year. The increase was felt especially in cantons Ticino and Geneva. Following a slight drop in 2018, the Swiss job market is once again attracting cross-border workers in historically high numbers. Some 325,291 people entered the country each day in the third quarter of 2019, beating the previous record of 316,491 set in 2017. Experts attribute the upward trend in large part to the stable Swiss economy and a stable labour market. + Learn more about the phenomenon of cross-border workers in Switzerland Leading the jump in cross-border workers are French residents (+7,166 in a year) and Italians (+5,551). The number of Germans commuting to Switzerland, however, remained stable (+25). Several factors could explain these differences, according to Giovanni Ferro Luzzi.  “I think the job market situation in Germany is better than in France or Italy, whether ...

  • ‘The clown is the ultimate punk’

    Wed, 13 Nov 2019 11:00:00 GMT

    If the Swiss are known for anything it’s their precision, timekeeping or watchmaking perhaps – and probably not their comedy. But Switzerland also has its own traditions when it comes to making people laugh, and Martin Zimmermann stretches the limits of conventional Swiss comedy, as seen in two plays he's brought to Zurich. Zimmermann is not just faithful to this honourable lineage of Swiss clowns, of which Grock (1880-1959), Dimitri (1935-2016), and Gardi Hutter (born 1953, and still very active) are some of the most notable names. The performer, director, choreographer and set designer from Zurich also mixes drama, tragedy, irony, dance and acrobatics, conveying his message in a universal language to audiences from Tokyo to New York. Celebrities such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Isabelle Huppert and Jane Birkin are said to be among his fans. Zimmermann was born in 1970 and grew up in a small town near Zurich, in a family of cheesemakers. Even as a child he loved to imitate the ...

  • Geneva exhibition examines human struggle between war and peace

    Wed, 13 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    Is war the future of man? This philosophical question is at the centre of an exhibition on war and peace at the Bodmer Foundation in Geneva, which features priceless manuscripts, books and other documents, including part of Leo Tolstoy's original manuscript for "War and Peace" and a 4,500-year-old peace treaty.   “If this exhibition had been held 30 years ago, it would have been marked by incredible optimism,” writes curator Pierre Hazan in the exhibition’s catalogue. “However, three decades on, there has been a brutal change of perspective.”  You only have to follow the daily news to realise this; the United Nations Security Council remains paralysed by conflicts involving the world’s major powers in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf. The UN has also been sidelined in southern Asia, where tensions are again on the rise in the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan, both of which possess nuclear weapons.  “Man’s responsibility to decide between war and peace is more ...

  • Why are the Swiss debating stockpiles of coffee?

    Tue, 12 Nov 2019 10:42:00 GMT

    The Swiss government has delayed a decision to scrap the nation’s 15,000-tonne strategic coffee bean reserve after the proposal prompted public and industry jitters. Here’s what you need to know about the issue and why it's been brewing for months.  Why is Switzerland squirrelling away coffee beans in the first place?  Self-reliance is an integral part of Swiss history and economic policy, and the country stocks food, medicines and oil in large quantities to cope with possible shortages.  The three-month coffee reserve aims to insulate the land-locked nation from supply disruptions, historically driven by concerns about global conflict although now facing the more immediate threat of global warming and low water levels on the River Rhine shipping route.  Why are the coffee reserves suddenly in the news now?  The government got coffee lovers buzzing in April when it said it would no longer stockpile coffee after concluding the low-calorie beverage was not vital for life and ...

  • Raising two children in Switzerland costs at least half a million francs

    Tue, 12 Nov 2019 08:00:00 GMT

    In a rich country, having children can easily become a luxury. On average, direct costs associated with raising a child are CHF 1,200 to 1,800 per month and that’s not including some of the most expensive childcare in the world and indirect costs. Love is priceless as the saying goes. But between guitar lessons, trips to Disneyland, and iphones, the costs quickly add up. Even before the birth of their child, many parents don’t hesitate to spend thousands of francs on clothes, strollers, and child car seats to welcome their little one into the world. Even without excessive consumerism, raising a child is expensive in Switzerland. But, how much does it cost exactly? What are the basic direct costs of raising a child? There are two official data analyses on the subject that have been widely referenced. The first is called “The cost of children in Switzerland” (in German), from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO). The authors calculated that in 2009 the average cost of raising a ...

  • How well does the new Swiss asylum system work?

    Mon, 11 Nov 2019 15:40:00 GMT

    The Swiss asylum process was streamlined in March, but critics have raised serious objections.  What is it about?  The reform, which aimed to create a more efficient process, was accepted by two-thirds of voters in a nationwide ballot in 2016 and came into effect across Switzerland on March 1, 2019. The introduction was staggered over several phases. As part of the overhaul, the asylum process must in principle be completed within 140 days. It ends with the deportation of asylum-seekers whose requests have been turned down.   Asylum centres have also been reorganised.  What are the main elements of the reform? People who have filed a request for asylum in Switzerland are allocated to one of six national centres across the country. Most asylum-seekers stay in the same accommodation while their applications are examined. Some applicants, however, are transferred from a national to a cantonal centre as their requests need more time to be processed.  The requirements ...

  • Why are Swiss mums assumed to be ‘stay-at-home’?

    Mon, 11 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    A reader asked if it’s true that Swiss women tend to become stay-at-home mums once they have children. Although the data clearly shows this is no longer the case, women do commonly shoulder most of the childcare and housework, and are more likely to step back from their careers once children come along.  Much has changed in the last 30 years. Whereas in 1991 about 40% of mothers were not in paid work, today only a small proportion of women with children – about one in five – are stay-at-home mums, the Federal Statistical Office reports.   The office also reports that most women, especially those with a post-secondary education, return to work within the first year after giving birth.  That said, the majority of working mothers in Switzerland are employed part-time (see infographic below), whereas the European Union average is about 37%.  In fact, the most common arrangement for Swiss couples with children these days is strikingly reminiscent of the traditional family model of ...

  • They do what? Five frankly bizarre Swiss traditions

    Mon, 11 Nov 2019 10:28:00 GMT

    Christmas is coming, the goose is getting decapitated. Yes, it’s St Martin’s Day, which in central Switzerland involves beheading poultry with a sabre and pulling funny faces in exchange for cheese. However, this is far from the only unusual Swiss custom. Brace yourself for five of the weirder ones.  Gansabhauet  The unwary traveller will get a shock passing through the central Swiss town of Sursee on November 11, St Martin's Day. On a stage in front of the town hall, a dead goose hangs from a wire. Lots are drawn among those interested in taking a swing at the bird with an antique cavalry sabre. Clad in a red cloak, a blindfold and a golden mask shaped like the sun, they try their luck one by one.  Between rounds of the Gansabhauet, which dates back to the 19th century, if not earlier, children get a piece of cheese for making silly faces and the braver ones climb a pole to fetch a present from a tree. After two geese are gone, one after the other, there’s also a potato ...

  • Headwinds knock Swiss watchmakers’ growth expectations

    Mon, 11 Nov 2019 09:34:00 GMT

    ​​​​​​​ The turbulence resulting from the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong might have been shrugged off by Swiss horologists had it not come at such a transformational time for the watch industry. Many manufacturers had been banking on 2019 as a year of calm, a time to recover after a challenging 2018. Instead they face a situation where analyst estimates point to a fall from 4% global growth to near zero, and a longer-term contraction in their largest market of up to 40%. The traditionally conservative Swiss industry is struggling with two linked structural trends. The first is a shift to direct retail operations to try to improve margin and inventory management, and control branding. The second is the need to accommodate the growing resale market in Swiss watches in the age of ecommerce. In recent years, Richemont brands Cartier, IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre have all had to buy back stock from retailers to support pricing, for instance. Yet the move to direct selling, away ...

  • When the world is in a fever, stable Switzerland feels it too

    Sun, 10 Nov 2019 14:00:00 GMT

    Not much has been written so far about the historical significance of the recent Swiss elections. Yet a look back in history can help us understand the nature of the parliament that has just been elected. Since the 1990s, the usual pattern has been polarisation. The right-wing Swiss People’s Party, the left-wing Social Democrats or the Greens would add to their support, either simultaneously or in turn. The two ends of the political spectrum diverged more and more. This time both People’s Party and Social Democrats lost out. The trend also affected the Radical Liberals. Only the Christian Democrats managed to hold onto their traditional vote, more or less. In fact, all the governing parties saw their share of the popular vote go down. The Greens and Liberal Greens, two parties not represented hitherto in government, added considerably to their popular vote. About the author Claude Longchamp is one of Switzerland's most experienced and highly-regarded political scientists and ...

  • Climbing among falling mountains

    Sun, 10 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    There are people in the Alps who have mastered the balance between life in the mountains, and life at home. Climber Dan Moore explains why he doesn't count himself among them.  In the mountains, you have only two choices: go up or down. On a micro level you take this step or that, one of which may lead you home safely, the other of which may kill you.  The mountains can be brutal in this respect, but they are also brutally honest. Though unforgiving of total negligence, they are ready to offer unmistakable, instant feedback for any minor errors and provide an unbiased reflection of your personal character at any given moment – how did you act when the weather turned bad - methodically, recklessly? To me, the human world seems infinitely more complex and confusing in comparison. Not to mention how full it is of endless tasks and the focus on material gain.  Physically, the mountains offer very little in return for my efforts. They might even require me to leave material behind; ...

  • Plane parts, trains and automobile stickers

    Sat, 9 Nov 2019 16:00:00 GMT

    Almost every article published by swissinfo.ch contains a percentage, an age, an amount of money or some other figure. Here’s a round-up of some of the most interesting statistics to appear in the past week’s stories. Monday 8 The number of men, aged 30-50, arrested in a forest in the French Ain region, west of Geneva, who were in possession of weapons and explosives and are suspected of planning an attack on a van carrying precious metals in Switzerland.  Tuesday 19 Switzerland’s position in an annual ranking of English-language skills. It slipped from 15th place in 2018. The Dutch once again came first in the survey by EF Education First.  Wednesday 62 The number of double-decker express trains that Bombardier promises to deliver to Swiss Federal Railways by summer 2021. Deliveries should have been made as early as 2013 but have been fraught with technical problems. Thursday 5 The price of a “Stick'AIR” environmental sticker (in Swiss francs) that cars – Swiss ...

  • How Switzerland froze when the Berlin Wall came down

    Sat, 9 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    Swiss politicians kept a close eye on the fall of the Berlin Wall exactly 30 years ago, but the mood of celebration was mixed with a sense of clumsiness and helplessness. Faced with the end of the Cold War, many people didn’t know what to say or do.  On November 9, 1989, the Iron Curtain separating East and West Germany turned from a death strip into an old concrete wall. The joy was also great in Switzerland: radio stations repeatedly played David Hasselhoff’s song Looking for Freedom, which became the anthem of the end of East Germany.  Standing in front of people clambering over the Wall, Swiss public television’s Berlin correspondent spoke excitedly of a “historic moment”. Many newspapers celebrated the opening of the East German border as the “twilight of the gods” of post-Communist Europe.  They were proved right: in the following weeks peaceful revolutions spread through the majority of Communist countries in Europe.  Hesitant reaction  Officially, however, Switzerland ...

  • Red Sea coral spotlights Swiss ‘Science Diplomacy’

    Fri, 8 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    Coral from the Red Sea is special for its exceptional ability to withstand the effects of climate change, but the countries whose scientists can help protect it don’t always get along. Switzerland is working to bring them together through so-called “Science Diplomacy”, an area which the Alpine country is increasingly involved in.  “At the end of the century it’s projected that we will have lost 90 percent of our coral reefs because the temperature will get too warm,” says scientist Anders Meibom of the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), which is leading the coral research project.  “But in the Red Sea we are quite sure that we have a population that can withstand these temperatures and still be fine, provided of course that the corals are not killed by local pollution in the region.”  Special coral from the Red Sea  Coral is our underwater forest, providing food and oxygen for the water and the ecosystem around the reef. Coral lives in symbiosis with algae, ...

  • Fighting food waste with your eyes, nose and tongue

    Fri, 8 Nov 2019 15:19:00 GMT

    Two-thirds of the food thrown away in Switzerland could have been eaten. A new label on foodstuffs wants consumers to be much more discerning when deciding what ends up in the bin. It seems that “use by” and “best before” – two legally-required date labels – sometimes get mixed up in consumers’ minds. While “use by” means an item would likely be spoiled after that date, “best before” means exactly that: the item will taste its best if you eat it beforehand. But many people throw away food as soon as it passes this date – without evaluating whether it’s still edible. To prevent this from happening, Swiss food companies are adding another line: “often good for longer” [oft länger gut / souvent bon après]. The initiative comes from the creators of the Swiss branch of Too Good To Go, an international mobile app that makes it easy to buy surplus baked goods, salads and buffet leftovers at discounted prices. This new way of labelling products should encourage consumers to use their ...

  • From yodel to bebop

    Thu, 7 Nov 2019 15:00:00 GMT

    Over a decade ago, Gabriela Martina left her home in the countryside of Lucerne to study jazz in the United States. Today, the vocalist and composer lives in Boston and teaches at her alma mater, Berklee College of Music. Martina tries to mix her Swiss yodelling roots with jazz, soul, RnB, gospel and blues. Her latest album, Homage to Grämlis, tells stories about the farm where she grew up with her parents, grandmother, two sisters and a brother. Many of the songs are about how they tended animals and the land. It’s bittersweet as the family recently had to give up the farm. When we first met Martina, the traditional building was undergoing renovations in preparation for the new tenants. She herself was preparing to perform at a local yodel festival: Later, we met Martina across the Atlantic, on the lively campus of Berklee in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. It’s here that she has been able to develop and thrive as a musician. She’s founded her own booking agency, Red ...

  • Inside Roche: Taking on the tech sector

    Thu, 7 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    Job titles like “real-world data scientist” or “digital transformation manager” hardly make you think of an established Swiss pharmaceutical company. But with its big bet on data and digitilisation, Roche needs a new crop of specialists. Now it just needs to woo them. There are still plenty of lab coats and business suits in the halls of Roche tower 1 in Basel. But in her jeans, blazer and sneakers, Istanbul-born Neyran Erlevent is less of a novelty than she would have been a decade ago. “I had no idea what a pharma company did in the digital field when I saw the job opportunity,” she says. “But I had all the digital skills they were looking for, so I applied and got the job.” Neyran received her MBA in e-commerce and digital marketing in the United States and spent several years working at an e-commerce start-up before joining Roche in Turkey, Spain and Canada and ultimately moving to the company headquarters in Basel. She is a digital transformation programme manager in ...

  • Using lake water to help reduce Switzerland’s carbon footprint

    Thu, 7 Nov 2019 10:04:00 GMT

    ​​​​​​​ Swiss lakes offer huge potential as renewable energy sources that can be used to cool and heat buildings. Geneva is expanding a pioneering thermal exchange project to help meet its climate goals, while other regions are taking the plunge.  After transport, the second and third biggest sources of national greenhouse gas emissions are Swiss industry (20% of total in 2017) and households (18%). In Geneva, buildings occupied by firms and residents account for half of local CO2 emissions. The Geneva authorities, businesses and institutions keen to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels are therefore seeking new ways of saving energy.  Just north of the city, the local power company, Services industriels de Genève (SIG), is expanding a thermal exchange network that uses water from the lake to cool and heat local buildings.  Launched ten years ago, the “Geneva-Lac-Nations” scheme currently serves the United Nations headquarters, the International Committee of the Red Cross, ...

  • Despite criticism, Switzerland continues to incarcerate minors

    Wed, 6 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    Each year, around 20 minors are locked up in Swiss prisons for various lengths of time. Their requests for asylum having been rejected, the authorities place them in detention before their expulsion from the country. Despite strong criticism, the Swiss parliament refuses to ban the practice.    Switzerland is one of 196 countries which has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which stipulates that the detention of a minor must only be used as a last resort and for the shortest amount of time possible. However, each year, around 20 children are locked up in different prisons around the country.    In 2017 and 2018, 37 minors were placed in detention in Switzerland for periods of two to 120 days, according to the latest report from the National Commission for the Prevention of Torture (NCPT). They were asylum seekers aged between 15 and 18. Their demand for asylum having been rejected, they were imprisoned while waiting to be expelled from ...

  • Swiss politics goes Green with a capital G

    Wed, 6 Nov 2019 15:23:00 GMT

    The surge in support for Green parties in the Swiss elections suggests that the Alpine country is shying away from right-wing populism and euroscepticism, says a former British Minister of State for Europe. The Swiss election to their 200-strong federal parliament has seen the biggest win for green politics ever in Switzerland and a significant defeat for anti-EU, and anti-immigrant political forces. The traditional parties close to Swiss business and banking like the Radical-Liberals and Christian Democrats are, like Swiss glaciers, getting slowly smaller as the new divide in the Alpine country is between opposing variations of populism. The conservative right-wing Swiss Peoples’ Party have campaigned for a quarter of a century against Europe and above all against immigration of any sort – from Europe, from Muslim regions of the world, and from the conflict zones of North Africa and the Middle East caused by Western interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria. But they now face ...

  • What prison is like for failed asylum seekers

    Wed, 6 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    Thousands of unsuccessful asylum seekers are imprisoned each year in Switzerland before being expelled from the country. swissinfo.ch spoke to two of them.  In Switzerland, as in several European countries, it is possible to end up in prison without having committed a crime. The Federal Act on Foreign Nationals gives cantons the possibility to lock up failed asylum seekers before their expulsion. This measure of restraint, specific to asylum seekers and foreigners, is called “administrative detention”. It can extend to a maximum duration of 18 months for adults, and 15 months for minors between 15 and 18 years old.  The imprisonment of minors under age 15 is prohibited under the law. The use of administrative detention varies greatly from one canton to another, but between 2011 and 2017, it was used an average 5,800 times each year across Switzerland.  We met with two adult migrants who had experienced administrative detention in Geneva and agreed to tell their stories. As their ...

  • Why is solar power struggling to take off in Switzerland?

    Wed, 6 Nov 2019 13:19:00 GMT

    Solar energy is the main source of renewable energy in Switzerland, after hydroelectric power. But its potential is far from being exploited, according to industry experts.  In 1982 Switzerland became the first country in Europe to connect a photovoltaic plant to the electricity network. Ten years later it inaugurated what at the time was the continent’s largest solar power station. And in 2015, the world’s largest off-grid solar panel system on the roof of a sports stadium started operating in Biel.  Today, Switzerland is one of the most innovative countries when it comes to solar energy, as witnessed by the ground-breaking Solar Impulse and PlanetSolar projects. However, solar power is struggling to break through at a national level. How much electricity is produced using solar?  There are around 85,000 photovoltaic installations in Switzerland, with an overall power of 2,172 megawatts (at the end of 2018), according to the industry association Swissolar. The panels cover 13 ...

  • Trophy hunters pay thousands to kill iconic Swiss animal

    Wed, 6 Nov 2019 09:42:00 GMT

    Previously extinct in the Swiss Alps – and prized for their impressive horns – ibex have become a valuable source of income in western Switzerland. A report by Swiss public television, RTS, explains how canton Valais earns about CHF650,000 ($656,000) per year selling day permits for ibex hunters and charging hefty fees for their souvenirs: the horns of the fallen animals. An ibex with metre-long horns yields CHF13,000, with every extra centimeter costing another CHF500. The most impressive specimens are worth as much as CHF20,000. Roughly 100 hunting permits are granted per year. The canton is not the only one earning money. Travel agencies sell ibex-hunting packages that handle the administrative details and include accommodation and a wildlife guide. The RTS report aired on Sunday includes this video that had been posted online. It features an American tourist near Ardon: In a Skype interview with RTS, American hunter Olivia Opre described her experience as “a wonderful ...

  • What Geneva's Uber policy means for the company

    Tue, 5 Nov 2019 13:55:00 GMT

    It’s not the first time Uber has faced some bumps on the road in canton Geneva. But the latest move requiring the ride-hailing company to treat drivers as employees could spell big changes for the ride-sharing enterprise.  The thousands of diplomats, business travellers and tourists arriving at Geneva airport every month may soon need to return to hailing a taxi or hopping on a train to get to the city centre.  Last week, the Geneva cantonal authorities determined that based on the law on taxis and transport, Uber drivers should be Uber employees. Hence, they are entitled to social benefits including paid holidays, sick leave and pensions.    For Roman Künzler of the trade union Unia, this decision is a long, hard-fought success. “We hope that the precarious conditions for drivers come to an end now and Uber complies with the law,” Künzler told swissinfo.ch.  Battling the behemoth Uber faces a long list of legal battles as cities revisit and rewrite the rules to rein in the ...

  • Why is plastic so hard to recycle?

    Tue, 5 Nov 2019 16:27:00 GMT

    Plastic is all around us: it’s so present in our everyday lives we don’t just find it in our cupboards and on our desks, we even find it inside human bodies. A study published by the University of Newcastle found plastic traces all the way inside our muscles.  For a material that’s so intrinsic to the way we live, recycling plastics is surprisingly difficult, and still seems to be a riddle in Switzerland. As waste management is in each canton or commune’s hands, and since there aren’t many suitable sorting facilities in the country, many plastics rarely have a chance to be recycled. Instead, today most of it is burnt along with regular waste, generating energy to supply Swiss households with electricity and heating.  Changing our habits to consume less of this material might help to solve the riddle, but in order to make plastics more recyclable from the outset, a fundamental shift in production is needed, something that’s outlined in what experts call the ‘vital recycling chain’. 

  • Is blockchain real estate in need of renovation?

    Tue, 5 Nov 2019 15:56:00 GMT

    Our regular analysis of developments in the world of fintech and Crypto Nation. Property has for some time been hailed as prime real estate for blockchain disruption. The incorruptible ledger will replace mountains of paperwork while interested parties will have a sovereign claim to validate transactions in property sales. We are also told that smart contracts will replace notaries, speeding up transactions and cutting costs. And the nimble blockchain will make short work of carving up shares of buildings into bite-sized chunks for small investors. So it comes as some surprise that one of Switzerland earliest blockchain real estate projects, SwissRealCoin, has been put on ice as it figures out “new set-up options”. Insiders are privately saying the market is not yet ready for blockchain innovation. SwissRealCoin simply arrived too early with a great idea – which included a stablecoin pegged against its property portfolio. It seems the Swiss financial regulator was also of the ...

  • Swiss-made ankle bracelets ride global prison reform trend

    Tue, 5 Nov 2019 09:01:00 GMT

    Electronic monitoring of convicted offenders is now being used in many countries for short sentences. Swiss company Geosatis has become one of the principal suppliers of electronic ankle bracelets worldwide. “Today it is being more and more realised that imprisonment may not be the best solution for small offenders. In jail they may be subject to negative influences from prisoners who have committed more serious crimes. They are also completely cut off from the world: when they are released they often feel lost, they no longer have work or sometimes even a home,” says François Vigier, communication manager for Geosatis. According to him, electronic monitoring helps low-risk criminals reduce the risk of reoffending compared to being stuck in jail. Several countries have reached the same conclusion. First introduced in the US in the 1980s, electronic monitoring is today being used or experimented with in about forty countries, including Switzerland. Around the world there are about ...

  • How important are university rankings?

    Tue, 5 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    Swiss schools tend to do well in university rankings. But how are they regarded by the institutions themselves, and why do the results vary so much?   While some argue that league tables help assess quality in an increasingly global, competitive and diverse environment, others say they can lead universities to focus on rankings-friendly research over teaching and social responsibility. Critics have also pointed to league tables favouring the advantage enjoyed by the top 200 unis, many of which are in Europe and North America.   The Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich is generally Switzerland's highest-ranked university, with its Lausanne counterpart, EPFL, coming in second. However, there are others snapping at their heels: the University of Geneva now has two Nobel Physics Prize winners, which could affect its position in these lists.  In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University 2020 rankings, Switzerland had more top-200 universities per capita than any ...

  • Reversing climate change requires more of everyone

    Tue, 5 Nov 2019 08:13:00 GMT

    Contributor Gordon Langlois argues that in the fight to address climate change, measures need to be explored beyond adjusting consumer habits. He calls for a bolder approach in Switzerland, where plastic use and a throwaway culture undermine progress, and challenges industrial players to do their part.  On the weekend, I decided to make a salad to accompany the steaks we were grilling for dinner. I managed to use up most of the produce in my refrigerator; cherry tomatoes, organic cucumber, mixed green lettuce, yellow peppers, fresh mozzarella. With every item I used, I threw out a plastic container. Every single one.   We have been inundated with news that our globe is passing a point of no return when it comes to global warming. Slowly we are using more green transport, getting our energy from renewable resources and making sure that we recycle… but that got me thinking that maybe therein lies the problem. The challenge to drastically reduce our carbon footprint needs more ...

  • Why Nestlé won’t meet its zero-deforestation pledge

    Mon, 4 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    When it came under fire from environmental groups over its harvesting of palm oil, Swiss food giant Nestlé committed to eliminating deforestation from its supply chain by next year. But it will take another three years to come close to accomplishing that goal.   The year 2010 was a tough one for Nestlé. In March of that year, the environmental activist group Greenpeace uploaded a disturbing video to YouTube that equated eating a KitKat bar – a brand owned by Nestlé – with killing orangutans. Partly as a result of the campaign and the public’s response to it, the company temporarily cut its ties with controversial Indonesian palm oil supplier Sinar Mas and committed to ending deforestation in its supply chain by 2020.   However, Nestlé recently admitted that it will not be able to meet that deadline. Instead, the food producer will have to settle for a 90% deforestation-free supply chain by the end of next year.   “The remaining 10% will be achieved and we will continue our ...

  • Mozambique: How a peace deal gets made

    Sun, 3 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    Mirko Manzoni, the former Swiss ambassador and now UN Secretary General's Personal Envoy for Mozambique, is the man being hailed as architect of that country's recent peace deal.  In his new UN role he will be helping to consolidate the peace. This may not be easy, especially after recent elections in which the ruling party won a landslide victory and the opposition is claiming massive fraud.  But Manzoni is used to tough situations. He talked to swissinfo.ch about the ups and downs of the peace process and how things were often difficult. Subscribe to this podcast, The Swiss Connection, for example on Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM or Spotify to ensure that you don’t miss the next episode.

  • The race for Swiss Senate seats is open

    Sat, 2 Nov 2019 14:00:00 GMT

    Just when you thought that the elections for the Swiss parliament were over, the suspense continues in many parts of the country with run-off polls for Senate this month. The October 20 parliamentary elections resulted in landslide gains for Green parties and caused a shock for the political right and the left in Switzerland as they both lost seats in the House of Representatives. It was also a historic result for women who increased their representation by 10% to a record 42%. The question now is whether the so-called “Green wave” will be confirmed in the second round of elections to the Senate taking place over the next four Sundays in 13 of the country’s 26 cantons. The new parliament will meet for its first session on December 2. Why are the run-off polls necessary at all? It’s because it has only been possible to allocate 24 of the 46 Senate seats so far. In all the other cases, none of the candidates won the necessary absolute majority of more than 50% of the votes cast ...

  • Spas, Syria and the demise of the call box

    Sat, 2 Nov 2019 16:00:00 GMT

    Almost every article published by swissinfo.ch contains a percentage, an age, an amount of money or some other figure. Here’s a round-up of some of the most interesting statistics to appear in the past week’s stories. Monday 20 The number of health spas with which Switzerland’s tourism marketing company has teamed up in a campaign to boost health tourism.   Tuesday 3 A large-scale operation across three Swiss regions led to house searches targeting 11 people with suspected links to Islamist terrorist groups. The police raids were launched in the cantons of Zurich, Bern, and Schaffhausen, and involved some 100 officers.  Wednesday 150 The number of people on Syria’s Constitutional Committee, which launched a first meeting in Geneva this week. Syria’s government and opposition agreed last month to form the committee in what the UN called “the first concrete political agreement” aimed at mapping a path to peace.  Thursday 1 The number of telephone boxes left in ...

  • A Zurich restaurant serves its main dish on the wall

    Sat, 2 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    In an age of star chefs and gourmet world rankings, the Kronenhalle restaurant in Zurich stands out: nowhere in the world is the art of gastronomy so richly paired with art itself. The collection of modernist masterpieces on its walls is finally getting a catalogue. “Pays de Rêve” tries to be faithful to the restaurant’s close contact with the artists it hosted for decades. It is a sophisticated coffee-table book filled with archive images and a series of photos of the artworks in their restaurant context (see gallery, above). The editors also commissioned four young Zurich writers to publish literary texts that evoke the timeless atmosphere – past and present – of the Kronenhalle. Intellectual fistfights The book perfectly encapsulates the Kronenhalle’s position in the cultural life of the city, even though the many contributors are too young to have experienced the restaurant's heyday when Swiss writers Max Frisch and Friedrich Dürrenmatt went there for their intellectual ...

  • When Zurich smelled the smoke of the ‘red terror’

    Fri, 1 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    In 1907 an attack on the police barracks in Zurich and a bomb blast that injured children sparked national outrage. Were the Russians behind it?   For police recruit Fritz Beck June 3, 1907 is a big day. At last, he can put on a uniform and perform his first night watch at the police barracks in Zurich. Shortly after midnight, four men ring the bell at the main gate and ask for admission. When he politely inquires what they wanted, one of the strangers pulls a pistol and storms into the lobby.   Beck is running for cover. He desperately tries to open the door to the guards’ room, but his rattling is in vain. His colleagues have holed themselves up and don’t even think about letting him in. In his desperation, he shouts for help. The only response he gets are several shots.   ‘No doubt – it must have been the Russians’ The first bullet smashes a glass pane, the second pierces through an office door, and the third gets embedded in the wall. When the alarm goes off, the intruders ...

  • When the world got its news from shortwave radio

    Sun, 3 Nov 2019 09:00:00 GMT

    What did SWI swissinfo.ch sound like for the first seven decades of its existence? The short answer: a radio station.  From the mid-1930s to 2004, Switzerland’s international service was Swiss Radio International (SRI). The first few decades of SRI’s existence were the heyday of shortwave – it was often the only way of getting news directly from other countries.  A brief history of SRI, the predecessor of swissinfo.ch, helps explain why you hear what you do in the video above.  What began as the Swiss Short Wave Service in 1935, would grow from broadcasting programmes in German, French, Italian and English to include other European languages and Arabic, and eventually change its name to Swiss Radio International. The international service was considered a voice of neutrality during times of war, first during World War II, followed by the decades of the Cold War and up to and including the first war in the Gulf in the early 1990s.  This decade would mark the beginning of the ...

  • A Zurich restaurant serves its main dish on the wall

    Sat, 2 Nov 2019 10:00:00 GMT

    In an age of star chefs and gourmet world rankings, the Kronenhalle restaurant in Zurich stands out: nowhere in the world is the art of gastronomy so richly paired with art itself. The collection of modernist masterpieces on its walls is finally getting a catalogue. “Pays de Rêve” tries to be faithful to the restaurant’s close contact with the artists it hosted for decades. It is a sophisticated coffee-table book filled with archive images and a series of photos of the artworks in their restaurant context (see gallery, above). The editors also commissioned four young Zurich writers to publish literary texts that evoke the timeless atmosphere – past and present – of the Kronenhalle. Intellectual fistfights The book perfectly encapsulates the Kronenhalle’s position in the cultural life of the city, even though the many contributors are too young to have experienced the restaurant's heyday when Swiss writers Max Frisch and Friedrich Dürrenmatt went there for their intellectual ...

  • The world's highest mountains hold vital climate change lessons

    Thu, 31 Oct 2019 15:00:00 GMT

    Swiss glaciologist Christian Huggel talks to swissinfo.ch about the effects of the climate crisis on high mountain regions, lessons learned between affected countries and the physical and existential impacts of melting glaciers on locals.  The University of Zurich professor was one of 200 scientists, government officials and practitioners in Geneva this week for the “High Mountain Summit” at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which aimed to push high-mountain region concerns up the agenda of the UN system. swissinfo.ch: You warn that globally we could “lose the cryosphere” – the Earth's snow and ice – this century, or at least 50% of all glaciers based on a low CO2 emissions scenario. What are the main potential consequences for Switzerland?  Christian Huggel: The water issue is central. Up to now Switzerland has always had enough water. It was never really a big issue in the past. But now things are changing – sometimes slowly, sometimes abruptly – due to longer ...

  • Inside Geneva: Potential and pitfalls for Syrian peace talks

    Thu, 31 Oct 2019 11:13:00 GMT

    This week, all eyes have been on a group of 150 people who arrived in Geneva. They’re there to try to work out the next steps for Syria, where war has raged for nearly a decade. In another “Inside Geneva” edition of our podcast, we’re asking whether these talks in Switzerland can lead to peace in Syria.  Host Imogen Foulkes and analyst Daniel Warner joined representatives from peacebuilding institutions in Geneva to discuss the ins and outs of the gathering. Who is – or isn’t – invited to the Syria Constitutional Committee? What does that mean for a possible deal? And can there be lasting peace in Syria without justice for the atrocities committed during the war? Subscribe to this podcast, The Swiss Connection, for example on Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM or Spotify, to ensure that you don’t miss the next episode.

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