24 Jun 2016

WTI lands prestigious European research project

The World Trade Institute (WTI) has won sought-after European Union financial backing for a project examining the role of local authorities in tackling climate change.

It beat off competition from other applicants across the EU, receiving top marks for the project and winning funding of 2 million euros over three years.

Climate Security with Local Authorities (CLISEL) - From insecurity takers to security makers: mobilising local authorities to secure the EU against the impacts of climate change in Third Countries - comes under the umbrella of Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

The achievement is made all the greater by the fact that Switzerland is outside the EU and as a third country is not entitled to participate fully in Horizon 2020. This situation will apply until Switzerland extends rights on the free movement of persons to Croatia. Following the adoption of the mass immigration initiative  in a popular vote on 9 February 2014 and subsequent non-signing of the protocol on Croatia, the EU rejected Switzerland's full association to the Horizon 2020 package.

“This is the result of a tenacious approach and a search for strategic partners in order to win the project,” said Rosa Losada, who is part of the team coordinated by Elisa Fornalè.

The importance of networks

Joseph Francois, Managing Director of the WTI, underlined the fact that research nowadays is about networks and cooperation. 

“Networks are central to how knowledge is developed and disseminated. Equally important, cross-border cooperation in large-scale research projects is critical to the training and networking of the next generation of scientific researchers. 

“For topics ranging from the local impact of globalisation on workers to finding exoplanets in the great beyond, Swiss universities are world-class leading institutions precisely because they excel at the centre of such networks.  This also benefits industry, and serves to underpin the Swiss reputation for technical excellence," Professor Francois said.

For Koen Berden, Director of Outreach at the WTI, continued full access to the EU research space (i.e. Horizon 2020) cannot be underestimated.

“Access is not only important for the WTI as an interdisciplinary research institute, but also for all other universities and research institutes in Switzerland. Horizon 2020 projects allow Swiss researchers to be drivers and participants in global research networks that lead to innovation. This is vital for the city of Bern as well as Switzerland as a whole,"  Dr Berden commented.

The WTI is a state-of the-art research institute focusing on interdisciplinary research on trade and investment. It examines the global effects of large developments , such as mega-regional agreements like TTIP, TPP and CETA, as well as political developments like Brexit and sanctions on Iran.