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  • Wed, 29 Jan 2020 10:00:00 +0000: Where consumers and farmers pull together - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Volunteers invest effort and money in a Swiss farming initiative near Bern with the aim of showing solidarity with like-minded people and harvesting top-quality organic vegetables. “You’ve raised false expectations!” says a middle-aged man after swissinfo.ch approaches the chicken enclosure with a camera, increasing the cackling by several decibels. “The chickens think you’re going to feed them.”  Around 40 solidarity farms Swiss agriculture is under pressure. The pricing policy of large distributors and importers is forcing farmers to get more and more out of their land. Some farmers want to escape this trend.  According to the Cooperation Centre for Solidarity in Agriculture, there are around 40 farms in Switzerland that involve consumers in the farm work. One of the aims of their initiatives is to promote understanding and appreciation of farm work.  Christoph Schüep’s day job is that of a food industry biologist, but on the Radiesli farm, which means “radish”, he’s one of ...
  • Wed, 29 Jan 2020 05:00:00 +0000: Support for social housing collapses, anti-homophobia reform remains solid - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    A proposal to combat real estate speculation has lost public support and is unlikely to win a majority in a nationwide vote in Switzerland on February 9, according to pollsters. Opponents of a proposal for tighter anti-homophobia rules are also set to fail.  A people’s initiative that calls for a 10% quota of social housing is backed by just over 50% of respondents taking part in a nationwide poll commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).  An opinion poll published on Wednesday shows the margin between supporters and opponents has shrunk to 6%, down from 30% in a first survey published in December. For details see graphic below:  “Criticism of the initiative - expected high administrative costs and the risk of an investment freeze for renovation projects - have won the upper hand,” says Lukas Golder, co-director of the leading GfS Bern research institute, which carried out the poll.  Left-wing parties and women in urban areas still support the proposal, the ...
  • Tue, 28 Jan 2020 14:00:00 +0000: Why we’re nostalgic for snow-covered Alps - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    As white winters become less common, we are becoming ever more wistful for pastimes associated with them, like skiing. Do you agree with me? In mid-January the authors of the Financial Times business and finance column, Lex, chose to highlight declining snow cover in the northern hemisphere, focusing on the Alps, and the financial losses faced by ski resorts in the coming decades. Lex stated that the total number of days people skied in the Swiss Alps declined by nearly a quarter between 2009 and the 2017-18 season. I would argue that for the Swiss who are skiing less often or have given up the sport entirely, warmer winters make them cherish even more their memories of slaloming down virgin-white slopes on seemingly endless crisp, cold and clear winter days. Why? I can’t say for certain, but the Swiss Alpine Museum is making a similar bet. The museum has been asking the public to contribute their old ski gear, photos, trophies and even x-rays of bones broken in skiing ...
  • Tue, 28 Jan 2020 11:07:00 +0000: The last Swiss Holocaust survivors  - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The commemoration held to mark the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp has shone the spotlight on the events of the past. Some of those who lived through the Holocaust live in Switzerland.  Estimates put the number of Holocaust survivors living in Switzerland at around 400. In 2016, some of them were photographed by Beat Mumenthaler, film-makers and other multimedia journalists. The idea was to showcase the faces of these men and women, who have been marked by their remarkable lives and their experiences. The portraits have been gathered into an exhibition, entitled The Last Swiss Holocaust Survivors, on the initiative of the Zurich-based Gamaraal Foundation. This organisation was founded in 2014 by Anita Winter, the daughter of two German Holocaust survivors. Its aim is to support survivors and to ensure that the memory of these events is passed down to younger generations. Since 2017, the travelling exhibition has been shown at places such as the United ...
  • Tue, 28 Jan 2020 08:00:00 +0000: Zurich Airport looks to Asia to expand its airports business - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    The company recently won a bid to build and run an airport near India’s capital and has its sights set on other emerging markets in Asia.   In November 2019, Zürich Flughafen AG (Zurich Airport) won a 40-year contract to build and operate the planned Noida International Airport in Jewar, located around 80km from the country’s capital, New Delhi. With an investment of CHF650 million ($670 million) expected for the first phase of construction, passenger traffic is forecast at 12 million per year when it becomes operational in four years’ time.   The investment marks a return of the Swiss company to the subcontinent and the whole of Asia. In 2001 it became part of the new era of privatisation in India with a winning bid for the Kempegowda International Airport. This month Zurich Airport was the only shortlisted bidder that met the official requirements for the construction and operation of the Nijgadh International Airport in Nepal.   swissinfo.ch asked CFO Lukas Brosi to shed ...
  • Mon, 27 Jan 2020 14:00:00 +0000: Why Switzerland’s dual-track education system is unique - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Young people used to be faced with making a definitive career choice aged 15 in Switzerland. But nowadays they can change direction later on, thanks to increased flexibility in Switzerland’s education system. Increasing numbers of young people are choosing the classic Swiss baccalaureate (school leaving certificate which opens the door to university), university and then job track, reports say, because it’s easier or because it’s considered more prestigious. Others – still around two-thirds of school leavers – choose vocational training: an apprenticeship and then a job. Until a couple of decades ago it was either “job or university” when leaving school (obligatory schooling ends at the age of 15-16 in Switzerland but thinking about potential careers starts one or two years earlier) and they did not overlap. If you wanted to change profession or studies, you had to start over. But this has changed. + Are 14 -year-olds ready to make a career choice? Apprenticeships, a Swiss ...
  • Mon, 27 Jan 2020 13:05:00 +0000: Trust is what makes Davos work, but it is also its biggest problem - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Our analysis of what the biggest global companies in Switzerland are up to. This week: reflections on WEF 2020 in Davos. It’s easy to come to the World Economic Forum in Davos with a good dose of scepticism, yet most people leave with a sense that it was worthwhile. But not because it is improving the state of the world. There are few events on the planet where in the span of a few hours you’ll meet the Dutch CEO of the largest Japanese advertising company, the Moroccan founder of a California-based gene sequencing start-up, a Swiss ambassador and a South African model and lawyer with albinism. This is the magic of Davos. CEOs, Nobel prize winners and cultural icons hand out business cards to journalists as if they were their most trusted peers. The trust and kindness among a carefully-selected and vetted group of some 3,000 individuals is what makes Davos work. But it is also the event’s Achilles’ heel. Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, who created a stir by raising the issue ...
  • Mon, 27 Jan 2020 11:00:00 +0000: How do ‘baby boxes’ work in Switzerland? - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Switzerland offers an emergency solution for desperate mothers who want to give away their infant anonymously. A near tragedy shook Switzerland at the very start of the year: a passerby discovered a newborn baby at a waste-collection point in canton Bern. The little girl, in a state of hypothermia, was in critical condition. The mother was soon located by the police. She explained that she had deliberately chosen a busy place to abandon her child, in the hope that she would soon be found.  However, Switzerland has an emergency solution for desperate mothers: several hospitals in the country have set up “baby boxes”.   What are “baby boxes”?  Baby boxes are an arrangement that enables women to abandon their newborn babies without endangering the infant while remaining anonymous. Some hospitals thus install a kind of hatch in a discreet location on their premises. The mothers can open a window and lay their baby in a heated crib. An alarm goes off after a while and staff come to ...
  • Mon, 27 Jan 2020 10:00:00 +0000: Why it’s never too late to learn from Holocaust survivors - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    On the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, a Holocaust survivor talks about his time recovering in Switzerland and the president of a survivor support foundation discusses the importance of educating people about what happened.  Around 450 Holocaust survivors live in Switzerland. Globally, numbers vary greatly. The continued threat of anti-Semitism has forced them to protect their identity.  Thomas Geve survived four concentration camps. He arrived at Auschwitz II-Birkenau aged 13 and was liberated from Buchenwald aged 15. He has never forgotten the time he spent on the Zugerberg mountain in central Switzerland. In the summer of 1945, he and 106 other children were sent by the Red Cross to Switzerland to begin their recovery from the horrors they had experienced inside Hitler’s concentration camps.  Charlie Inglefield is the editor and co-author of Thomas Geve’s forthcoming book, The Boy Who Drew Auschwitz. Zug’s attractive Alpine scenery, together with care ...
  • Sun, 26 Jan 2020 14:00:00 +0000: The environment is her priority, social issues too - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    She is the first Green parliamentarian from Ticino to be elected to the House of Representatives. At 36, Greta Gysin has served at all three levels of the Swiss federal system. Her top priority is the environment, followed a close second by workers’ rights. Sincerity and politics are what Gysin is all about. “Since I was a child, I have felt a great need to state my opinion clearly. Yet always with an attitude of respect,” says the new member of parliament, as she sips a cappuccino in a café in Zurich’s main railway station. Respect for others was a basic value her parents taught her, and she has made it her guiding principle. When she was a teenager in secondary school, “my need to say my piece took on more and more of a political flavour”, she recalls. Around this time, her involvement in politics went a step further than talking to school friends. Gysin was a member of the Youth Parliament in her canton. Last October, Swiss citizens elected the most female parliament in the ...
  • Sun, 26 Jan 2020 10:00:00 +0000: Swiss students ‘becoming more stressed out’ - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    A national campaign to promote student mental health has been launched following concerns that the pressure on young people at university is too high. Students are reporting anxiety, depression and exhaustion as they try to cram in studies, part-time jobs and higher expectations. The campaign will conduct the first detailed national survey of student mental health to help pinpoint areas where action is needed. In the most recent University of Lausanne annual “how are you?” wellbeing survey of first-year students, over half of respondents reported stress due to studies and workload, while just under half said they were worried, anxious, tired or demotivated, said Swiss public television RTS. There are also reports that more students are consulting university counselling services: there was a jump of 50% in consultations in the period 2018-2019 at the University of Fribourg, and a rise of just over 20% in 2018 compared with 2017 at Zurich’s two universities. The universities of ...
  • Sat, 25 Jan 2020 10:00:00 +0000: Historic bravery rewarded with three days of women’s power - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    In a 300-year-old tradition, two Swiss villages see women stake their claim to power every January. The three-day festival is just for fun, but it has roots in an important historical event and it sets the stage for modern-day gender discussions. "Women's rule" is the order of the day - or rather three days - in Fahrwangen and Meisterschwanden in canton Aargau, and it's all down to the ladies' decisive role in the second Villmergen War in 1712, which pitted Zurich and Bern against the Catholic cantons of central Switzerland. The two villages were at that time ruled by Bern and Fahrwangen was a camp for Reformed troops.  The Catholics launched an attack while the men of the villages were away fighting and legend has it that the Bernese army commander sent the women to the woods to make noise and trick the invaders into thinking that they were an army of reinforcements. The war ended in a Catholic defeat.  The Bernese commander was allegedly so impressed with their fighting spirit ...
  • Fri, 24 Jan 2020 10:00:00 +0000: In Switzerland, having a child is becoming a luxury - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Women in Switzerland are having fewer children, and they are having them later. Many push back plans for a family because education and career take priority, or because they can’t find a suitable partner. This is first part in our series about parenting in Switzerland. A first child in your mid-thirties? This is no longer a rarity in Switzerland, where many women now decide to have a child quite late – on average, at the age of 30.9. Twenty years ago, the average age for having a first child was 28.3 years old. According to data from the Max Planck Institute and Vienna University, the age of a mother on the birth of her first child has increased in all Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) countries in the past decades. On average, women in OECD countries were 28.9 when they had their first child. But only in Spain were first-time mothers older than in Switzerland. Swiss couples are not just having children late, they are also not having many. Women ...
  • Fri, 24 Jan 2020 09:45:00 +0000: Switzerland and EU link CO2 emissions trading schemes - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Since January 1, Swiss companies have been participating in the European Union emissions trading scheme. The mechanism is based on the “polluter pays” principle.  What’s it about? The EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) is a climate policy tool that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions according to the principles of the market economy. It aims to lower the emissions of the companies that pollute the most.  How does it work? Each year, companies receive a certain amount of emission rights free of charge. The company that emits more than its share must buy additional credits, otherwise it will be fined. Companies that remain below the permitted levels can sell what they haven’t used.  This creates a CO2 market in which companies can exchange emissions rights. The total number of emission certificates is reduced every year.  Who is participating? In Switzerland, large companies with high greenhouse gas emissions are obliged to participate in the ETS. Medium-sized companies can ...
  • Thu, 23 Jan 2020 15:38:00 +0000: At Davos, climate change dominates discussions - Top news - SWI swissinfo.ch
    Nearly everyone at Davos spoke about climate change at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), overshadowing other conversations about fears over an economic downturn, populism, increasingly polarized societies and health crises.  There were sessions on “decarbonizing shipping”, “achieving net-zero carbon cities and buildings”, and “how stakeholder capitalism can help heal the planet.” It was clear to anyone who ventured to Davos that the forum's 50th edition had picked a theme this year.  Speaking on Wednesday, Britain’s Prince Charles said it was time for everyone in a leadership role to take action “at revolutionary levels and pace”.  “We are in the midst of a crisis that is now, I hope, well understood. Global warming, climate change, and the devastating loss of biodiversity are the greatest threats that humanity has ever faced and one largely of our own creation,” he said.  “It’s a big step forward that the powerful in Davos have brought the topic to the ...