Day 2 - Seminar in Switzerland

Sustainability in Focus

During the second day of our Seminar in Switzerland, we focused on sustainability in the Swiss tourism and financial sectors, highlighting its importance and application in these sectors. 

The day included engaging presentations, an insightful visit from the American Embassy, and perspectives from Canadian ambassadorial students from Sheridan College Toronto. 


Our week is filled with enlightening presentations in preparation for our upcoming study trip to North America. One of these presentations was given by Swisstourism, who introduced us to the Swisstainable program. This pioneering initiative aims to redefine sustainable tourism in Switzerland. This blog post explores the goals of Swisstainable, the benefits of participation, the impact on Swiss tourism and the planet, and the key takeaways from the presentation.

Charting a Sustainable Future for Swiss Tourism

Swisstainable sets a bold vision for the future of tourism in Switzerland, with its primary goal being to make a significant contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals set for 2030.
Swisstainable aims to position Switzerland as a forward-thinking tourism destination by offering transparency and orientation to guests regarding sustainable offers. Its mission is to highlight and enhance the visibility of existing sustainability efforts, ensuring successful, future-oriented development of Swiss tourism. This initiative aligns with global sustainability goals and ensures that Switzerland remains a top choice for conscious travelers.

Advantages for a Greener Future

Participating in Swisstainable offers numerous benefits. It provides an opportunity for businesses and destinations to review and further develop their operations towards sustainability. Positioning as a responsible entity not only increases competitiveness but also enhances visibility and promotion by tourism umbrella organizations. Moreover, it boosts attractiveness in the labor market, inviting like-minded individuals to join the cause. Being part of the Swisstainable community promotes collaboration and exchange, which significantly contributes to Switzerland’s sustainable development. This collective effort helps make Switzerland a model for sustainable tourism worldwide.

As we began to explore the principles of sustainable tourism, we examined the relationship between Swiss tourism, its people, and the health of our planet. The Swiss Tourism Federation is the focus of this discussion. It is an organization that promotes a comprehensive approach to tourism that considers the interrelated aspects of ecology, economy, and society. This approach aims to balance the benefits of tourism with environmental stewardship and social well-being.

The Swiss Tourism Federation advocates for ecological sustainability and recognizes the importance of preserving Switzerland’s pristine environments. This approach benefits both the environment and the economy.

They are committed to implementing sustainable practices in the tourism sector to safeguard the nation’s stunning vistas and natural resources, ensuring a legacy of natural beauty for future generations.

The Federation prioritizes sustainable tourism as a driver of innovation and competitive advantage, adopting an economic approach that transcends short-term gain. This perspective aims to distribute tourism’s economic benefits across Swiss communities, supporting their prosperity and resilience.

Socially, the Federation’s ethos is rooted in inclusivity and the rich tapestry of Swiss culture.

By promoting tourism as a means of cultural exchange and mutual understanding, they aim to create experiences that not only revolve around travel but also enrich the community, strengthen the social fabric, and foster global connections.

Key Takeaways: Embracing Sustainability in Travel Post-Covid

The presentation by Swisstourism was enlightening, emphasizing the move towards sustainability in the post-Covid travel industry. We learned about the importance of discovering less frequented destinations, embracing the ‘less is more’ philosophy, and the growing emphasis on short, sustainable trips planned with minimal environmental impact.

This has inspired us to think critically about our travel choices, encouraging us to seek out and support initiatives like Swisstainable that strive for a balance between enjoying the world’s beauty and preserving it for future generations.

Written by Luca Richner, Samuel Ris

Sustainability in the Financial Sector

The afternoon of the second day of our Seminar in Switzerland started with a workshop led by Senior Consultant Alexander Jahn and Consultant Matyusha Ebrahimi from KPMG’s Financial Sustainability Consulting Team. On this note, we would like to thank KPMG for the long-lasting partnership since 2018. 

Why sustainability in the Financial Sector? 

After a short introduction to KPMG and its high efforts to establish a highly diverse work environment, Alexander explained the concept of sustainable finance and why financial institutions should consider implementing it. The benefits of sustainable finance cover risk mitigation, enhanced reputation, and various market opportunities.  

Challenges in Sustainable Finance are the lack of standardization, the lack of data quality, education in the market, and the need for increased awareness of financial institutions for sustainable investment options like sustainable funds or green bonds. 

Three arguments that every financial institution should consider if thinking about including sustainable investment options are the ever-changing market environment and the political and regulatory initiatives that are forcing the financial industry to act. 

Furthermore, Alexander talked about the expectations financial institutions have on corporations. Namely, transparency through ESG data and reporting and the improvement of ESG performance and management of ESG risk. 

Recent Developments in Sustainable Investments 

Matyusha proceeded with a statistic of how sustainable funds behaved over the last ten years (2012 to 2022). We saw that especially in the last 5 years there was a significant increase in sustainable funds worldwide with a first decrease from 2021 to 2022.  

What caught our attention was the dominating share of European investments in sustainable funds. It seems that the stricter regulations and heightened standards in the EU correlate to increased demand for sustainable financial products. 

Practical Challenges 

Alexander then brought us back to some practical challenges regarding sustainability in the financial sector. Challenges on the product level revolve around understanding customer preferences and training of client advisors, while on the entity level, unclear responsibilities and clear monitoring are among the main challenges. 

Case Study – Greenwashing Risk 

In the last part of the workshop, we did a case study on the topic “greenwashing risk”. We first discussed different aspects of greenwashing. One aspect is the problem that the term greenwashing is not a standardized term. Everyone can define greenwashing in their way and therefore use it to their benefit. Further, the occurrence of greenwashing is everywhere, it can pop up anywhere in the stakeholder environment. Lastly, greenwashing can be intentional or unintentional, where intentional greenwashing aims to increase demand, profits, and client engagement, whereas unintentional greenwashing stems from poor education and misinterpretation of laws. On this, we would like to quote Matyusha, who how we think brought it to the point with the following sentence: 

“It does not matter if greenwashing is intentional or not, it is misleading and therefore it is a risk.” 

Now, we had to classify six statements, and whether they incorporate greenwashing or not. To do that, we had a look at the major sins of greenwashing – lack of transparency and coherence, incorrect statements, misleading statements, and unverifiable claims. During the discussion, we learned that the classification boils down to the interpretation of each word of the statement and therefore is a regulatory grey area. The biggest takeaway here is that transparency will go a very long way. Communicating and reporting sustainability efforts in a clear and precise way can combat greenwashing very effectively. 


If we now draw the line to this year’s topic “how collective actions make the world more sustainable and its three pillars: people, planet, and prosperity. We think that sustainability in the financial sector promotes all three pillars simultaneously. Through the exclusion of unsustainable corporations, these corporations are sanctioned, and sustainable corporations are promoted. This rewards adherence to human rights, positive impact on environmental actions, and an overall sustainable business model. 

Written by Joel Chretien, David Luterbacher 

Fostering cultural harmony

Canada is the second largest country in the world by area. When most people think about Canada the following things first come to mind: remote nature areas, massive area of land, friendly and accommodating people. Canada has a whole bunch of opportunities; this drives the immigration to Canada. Although there is more immigration Canada is a united nation with many different cultures and different origins of people. Due to the wasteness of Canada, there are differences within the country. Each province has its specific economic and social sector in which they thrive in. And not to forget the split of Canada in the English-speaking part and French-speaking part 

Switzerland and Canada are quite like each other in their culture. The difference of the two countries in the Hofstede cultural dimensions is small but mostly recognizable in the long-term thinking. The Swiss people tend to think more in the long term than the Canadians. But Switzerland and Canada have a strong and robust relationship with each other. Canada produces raw material that Switzerland can use and produce new products. As a sign of the strong relationship of the two countries, the growth of exports to the other country can be seen. Each country had an average export growth of 7.3% between 1995 and 2014 in the trades between each other. Further Canada can be seen as the “big brother” of Switzerland. 

Although the United States and Canada are neighbors, they share less cultural properties opposed to Canada and Switzerland. In Canada there is a feeling of togetherness like a mosaic. Where in the U.S there is more of the feeling of unity. They have the ideology of the melting pot. The togetherness is achieved by adapting some cultural values of Canada and keeping your own cultural values and mostly open-minded communication within the society. 

Sheridan College has approximately 26’000 students, of which there are 3’500 foreign exchange students. Most of the foreign students come from the Indian subcontinent. This diversity of students is also mirrored in society. Because of the immigration is Canada a mosaic of different cultures and cultural values. And not a melting pot of the cultures as in the United States. 

In the discussion with Ambassador Sherry and Gautam from Sheridan College, we looked at the complexities of cultural collaboration in approaching sustainability issues. Exploring the essentials for solving such problems, we identified key elements. 

The main points of working intercultural together on sustainable problems include fostering confidence and creating a safe space for open discussions and embracing opportunities. Confidence is important for sharing diverse perspectives and for that a safe space is needed.  

There are barriers to cultural collaboration that are expressed in a lack of listening, bias and a lack of respect. Bias and uncontrolled emotions hinder open communication and create barriers to a true understanding of different cultures. 

We can foster change by nurturing deep ideas. To drive this change, we must not only think, but also act by becoming a role model for others and inspiring them. An open mindset and an appreciation of different perspectives strengthen our impact on initiating positive change. 

A good tool to address personal and environmental problems are the three C’s. Curiosity, the first C, stands for investigating similarities between two things or persons or even countries. The second C stands for competence. Which means knowing what you are talking about and being well-read in the topic. The last C is the most important one, collaboration. The goal of collaboration is to find like-minded people like yourself, that want also to make a change in finding solution. These three C’s can anyone implement and apply personally and for environmental or social problems.   

Written by Lydia Gross, Vincent Romer

Impressions of the Day