At its meeting on 13 July, the ETH Board approved “Joint Initiatives” of the ETH Domain Institutions covering “Energy, Climate and Environmental Sustainability” and “Engagement and Dialogue with Society”. The ETH Board is thus boosting the activities covered by the “Strategic Areas” of the ETH Domain, as defined in its Strategic Plan 2025–2028. In addition, the ETH Board has appointed Dr Thomas Wohlgemuth as the new member of the WSL Directorate with effect from September.
Launch of Joint Initiatives on Energy, Climate and Environmental Sustainability
In its Strategic Plan 2025–2028, the ETH Board defined “Strategic Areas” (SA) and launched “Joint Initiatives” (JI) on two of them. These initiatives strengthen the cooperation and coordination between the institutions of the ETH Domain in relation to the selected Strategic Areas.
Six Joint Initiatives within the Strategic Area “Energy, Climate and Environmental Sustainability” are being cofinanced with a budget of around CHF 30 million. These include initiatives to develop sustainable materials using waste from food production and to promote the use of wood in the construction industry. Various other initiatives aim to find solutions for the challenges that climate change presents for ecosystems and biodiversity as well as for energy security. There are also plans to set up a Swiss centre for net zero emissions.
Joint Initiatives on Engagement and Dialogue with Society
In the Strategic Area “Engagement and Dialogue with Society”, four “Joint Initiatives” will receive total cofinancing of around CHF 7 million from the ETH Board. This includes a platform for dialogue between science and society in order to promote mutual understanding and develop educational opportunities for researchers as part of the cooperation with civil society. Further dialogue formats are being planned, together with exhibitions on important themes such as energy and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. A real-world laboratory is being set up in conjunction with Aargau Jura Park, enabling researchers to discuss sustainability issues directly with the 32 municipalities of Jura Park so that they can work together to develop local measures and solutions. There are also plans for a national centre for the preservation of biodiversity, which will collect scientific knowledge about this topic and share it with all interested parties.
New member appointed to the Directorate at WSL
The ETH Board has appointed Dr Thomas Wohlgemuth as the new member of the WSL Directorate with effect from 1 September 2022. This appointment brings the members of the WSL Directorate to seven, of whom three are women and four men. Dr Thomas Wohlgemuth is head of the “Disturbance Ecology” research group at WSL and deputy head of the Forest Dynamics research unit. He is a recognised expert in forest and disturbance ecology with particular reference to the biodiversity and climate change aspects. These key topics for the future are given high priority at WSL. Thomas Wohlgemuth is replacing Prof Andreas Rigling, who is moving to ETH Zurich after 13 years in the WSL Directorate.