Beth Krasna, Acting President from May 2019 to January 2020

Dear readers

Klimajugend — Climate youth has been chosen as word of the year for 2019 in the German-speaking region of Switzerland. The French-speaking cantons call it vague verte, and the Italian-speaking part of the country refers to an onda verde. They all refer to the same issues of climate change and sustainability, issues which the ETH Domain takes seriously. For example, more than half of the 350 laboratories at EPFL are engaged in research on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. With its competence centres on nutrition, climate change and urban development, ETH Zurich is a world leader in teaching and research on sustainable development. The research institutions of the ETH Domain are making significant contributions towards the sustainable restructuring of the Swiss energy system. They play a central role in practical research and knowledge transfer in the area of the environment.

The ETH Domain is also a beacon institution in construction and operation. It has further reduced environmental pollution in recent years, and its energy efficiency has increased by more than a third since 2006.

In 2019, the two Federal Institutes of Technology either achieved good grades in most relevant international university rankings or maintained their very good rankings. They continue to be among the best universities in the world. The external evaluation of the ETH Domain, which is performed every four years, also highlighted the exceptional quality of the two universities and the four research institutes. The ETH Domain also celebrated an anniversary in 2019 as EPFL turned 50. The onetime Ecole Polytechnique de l'Université de Lausanne has grown into a world-class university, which has made a major contribution to making the French-speaking part of Switzerland a thriving region.

The two Federal Institutes of Technology and the four research institutes are committed to working together to find solutions to the many challenges facing our society. The impact of climate change is paramount. Consequently, the ETH Board would like to focus research in the ETH Domain more specifically on this issue. The ETH Board took the landmark strategic decision in September 2019 to establish a research institute for environment and sustainability and to pool the strengths of WSL and Eawag in the medium term. The ETH Board feels sure that this will boost scientific competence, cooperation within and outside the ETH Domain, as well as the quick transfer of knowledge further. The new research institute will also help to ensure that the ETH Domain remains well positioned in the future and can hold its own in the face of international competition – in the interests of the Swiss economy and society.

Zurich/Bern, January 2020

Beth Krasna
Acting President ETH Board

 

Beth Krasna was Acting President of the ETH Board from May 2019 to January 2020 after the previous President Fritz Schiesser retired at the end of April, having reached retirement age. In February 2020 Michael O. Hengartner took over the presidency.