Every Degree Matters – Mobilising Finance for People and Planet


Climate change and finance are intrinsically tied to each other. Join us on 26 February 2020 for a summit where we explore how to put finance at the service of people and planet.

Let's Move from Words to Action

Climate change is a fact. In Alpine regions, melting glaciers are silent witnesses to the constant rise in temperatures on earth. In Switzerland and neighbouring countries more and more people call for action against climate change. Cities are declaring a climate emergency. Laws to reduce CO2 emissions are being worked on.

Within the economy, the financial sector plays a pivotal role in the transition towards a climate-neutral society. Many banks are in agreement and are committed to reducing the carbon emissions caused by their operations. 

On 26 February 2020, Alternative Bank Schweiz hosted a summit in association with WWF Schweiz to explore how to put finance at the service of people and planet.

More than 300 people attended the event. Among them were representatives of Swiss banks, NGOs, regulators, politics and academia, as well as representatives from Climatestrike Switzerland and values-based banks from all over the world.


Part 1: Future Lab

Imagining a climate-neutral financial centre and creating viable ways to get there. Change is possible!
The first part of the summit provided a platform for discussions bringing together different actors in order to develop an agenda based on a shared vision. The vision was jointly developed beforehand by ABS, WWF and representatives of the Swiss Climate Youth Movement.


Climate change and the role and responsibility of finance: 
«If nature loses, the financial industry will too.»

Keynote speech by Margaret L. Kuhlow, Finance Practice Leader, WWF International

Watch the keynote speech by Margaret L. Kuhlow (vimeo.com)
See the PowerPoint presentation by Margaret L. Kuhlow (.pdf)


Vision of the future: 
It is 2030 and the Swiss financial centre is climate neutral

Before the summit, representatives of Alternative Bank Schweiz, WWF Schweiz and Climatestrike Switzerland developed a vision of the future for the Swiss financial centre. It depicts how four key actors of the financial system and those shaping it will act in 2030 if the Swiss financial centre were fully climate-neutral by this date.

Take a look at Vision 2030 (.pdf)


Change is possible: 
«The financial system won’t change if we leave it to the professionals.»

Keynote speech by Otto Scharmer, Senior Lecturer MIT Management Sloan School / Co-Founder of the Presencing Institute

Watch the keynote speech by Otto Scharmer (ottoscharmer.com)
See the PowerPoint presentation by Otto Scharmer (ottoscharmer.com)


How to reach the goal of a climate-neutral financial centre:
Group discussions (fishbowl conversations)

Summit participants were invited to establish dialogue and discuss the vision developed by Alternative Bank Schweiz, WWF Schweiz and representatives of Climatestrike Switzerland. Discussions were held in four different groups, one per key actor treated in the vision:

  • Financial institutions and their shareholders
  • Private and institutional customers
  • Policymakers and regulators
  • Education and academia

The goal was to jointly determine which steps each actor needs to take to make the vision a reality.

Read a summary of the ideas developed in the group discussions in the summary of the Summit on the pages 4 - 6 (.pdf)


Part 2: Evening Conference

Finance must and can care for the climate. What is the best way?
In the second part of the summit, key representatives and decision-makers from the Swiss financial centre presented their positions, reflecting on the ideas presented and developed in the first part of the event.


Financing Change, Changing Finance: 
«Roll up your sleeves, and do it now.»

Keynote speech by Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of the Club of Rome

Watch the keynote speech by Sandrine Dixson-Declève (vimeo.com)
See the PowerPoint presentation by Sandrine Dixson-Declève (.pdf)


Finance must and can care for climate:
«There is not enough time to wait another ten years.»

Panel discussion with

  • Jörg Gasser, CEO SwissBanking
  • Margaret Kuhlow, Finance Practice Leader WWF International
  • Oliviero Reusser, Representative of the Swiss Climate Youth Movement
  • Tamara Vrooman, CEO Vancity Credit Union
  • Fritz Zurbrügg, Vice Chairman of the Governing Board of the Swiss National Bank

Read a summary of the panel discussion in the summary of the Summit on the pages 7 - 8 (.pdf)


Closing remark by Alternative Bank Schweiz:
Take young climate activists as a source of inspiration

Martin Rohner, CEO of Alternative Bank Schweiz

Read a summary of Martin Rohners closing remark in the summary of the Summit on page 8 (.pdf)


Closing remark by Global Alliance for Banking on Values: 
«The bank’s carbon footprint reflects the real economy.»

Peter Blom, CEO of Triodos Bank and Chairman of the Board of GABV

Read a summary of Peter Bloms closing remark in the summary of the Summit on page 9 (.pdf)

Watch the recap video


The hosts

The conference is co-hosted by Alternative Bank Switzerland (ABS) and WWF Switzerland. It takes place during the Annual Meeting of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) which ABS is a member of.

The summit venue

The summit takes place at the Hotel Bellevue Palace in the heart of the city of Bern and right next to the Parliament Building.

> read more


Sustainability and climate awareness

Sandrine Dixson-Declève

Sandrine Dixson-Declève

President, Club of Rome

Sandrine Dixson-Declѐve has 30+ years of European and international policy, business leadership and strategy experience with a particular focus on EU and international climate change, sustainable development, green growth, conventional and sustainable energy solutions and sustainable finance.

She divides her time between lecturing, facilitating difficult conversations and advisory work. She holds several advisory positions for the European Commission, sits on multiple Advisory Boards and is a Senior Associate and faculty member of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and a Senior Associate for E3G. Sandrine Dixson-Declève was recognised by GreenBiz as one of the 30 most influential women across the globe driving change in the low carbon economy and promoting green business. 

Jörg Gasser

Jörg Gasser

CEO Swiss Bankers Association (SBA)

Jörg Gasser has long-standing experience in domestic as well as international politics, diplomacy and financial market policy. He began his career at the International Committee of the Red Cross. In senior positions with the Swiss government, including Policy Adviser in the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Secretary General of the Federal Department of Justice and Police and afterwards of the Federal Department of Finance, he advocated for a sustainable and competitive business location and financial centre. Most recently, he was State Secretary of the State Secretariat for International Finance. In 2018, the magazine Bilanz designated him one of the leaders in digitalisation in Switzerland. Jörg Gasser has been CEO of the Swiss Bankers Association since May 2019. 

Margaret L. Kuhlow

Margaret L. Kuhlow

Finance Practice Leader, WWF International

Margaret L. Kuhlow leads WWF's Finance Practice, providing strategic direction and thought and content leadership to WWF's global engagement with the finance sector. She was Vice President of Investment Policy at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and was a member of the team that established and implemented the U.S. Government's Millennium Challenge Corporation, leading the new agency's approach to environmental and social assessment of major investment projects. In her 25-year career she has lived and worked extensively in developing and emerging markets, and has broad sectoral experience in sustainable investment, project finance, and grant making. Margaret Kuhlow holds a Master in Public Policy, International Trade and Finance from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. 

Oliviero Reusser

Oliviero Reusser

Representative of the Swiss Climate Youth Movement

Oliviero Reusser was born in July 1997. He began his studies in Political Science & Arabic at the University of Zurich in the summer of 2015, and graduated in the winter of 2019. Oliviero Reusser has been active in the Swiss climate strike movement since December 2018. His organizational activities: general national coordination, knowledge sharing, administration, social media, project management.

Otto Scharmer

Otto Scharmer

Senior Lecturer MIT Management Sloan School / Co-Founder of Presencing Institute

Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer in the MIT and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. He introduced the concept of “presencing”—learning from the emerging future—in his bestselling books. He is co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future, which outlines eight acupuncture points for transforming capitalism. His most recent book, The Essentials of Theory U, outlines the core principles and applications of awareness-based systems change. Otto co-founded the MITx u.lab, a massive open online course (MOOC) for leading profound change, which has since activated more than 140,000 users from 185 countries. In 2019, he launched an annual innovation infrastructure called Societal Transformation Lab that supports place-based teams on reinventing economies and learning systems worldwide.

Tamara Vrooman

Tamara Vrooman

President & Chief Executive Officer, Vancity

As President and CEO of Vancity, Canada's largest community credit union, Tamara Vrooman believes that banking plays a vital role in developing a healthy society—building the well-being of people and, at the same time, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the communities in which they live and work. Under her leadership, Vancity has earned global recognition for its values-based banking model. More than one-fifth of Vancity's assets plus assets under administration are invested in initiatives that make a positive impact in communities. Tamara Vrooman chairs the board of the Rick Hansen Foundation and serves as Vice-chair of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, in addition to other board roles. She is the recipient of the Order of British Columbia (2019) among many other citations. 

Dr. Fritz Zurbrügg

Dr. Fritz Zurbrügg

Vice Chairman of the Governing Board of the Swiss National Bank

Fritz Zurbrügg has been a member of the Governing Board of the Swiss National Bank and Head of the III. Department (Financial Markets, Operational Banking and IT) since the beginning of August 2012. On 1 July 2015, the Federal Council elected Fritz Zurbrügg as Vice-Chairman of the Governing Board, whereupon he took over as head of the Second Department (Financial Stability, Cash, Finance and Risks) in Bern. From 1998 to 2006, he was Senior Advisor and Executive Director in the Swiss office at the IMF in Washington. In April 2010, the Federal Council appointed him Director of the Federal Finance Administration. Fritz Zurbrügg studied economics at the University of Bern, graduated in 1985 and received his doctorate in 1989.

Karin Frei

Karin Frei


Karin Frei has worked for Swiss National Radio and Television SRF for 27 years as a reporter, presenter and as head and anchorwoman of the current affairs show «The Club». As a mediator she helps businesses and institutions to resolve conflicts, she teaches media literacy based on negotiation strategies and works as a host and presenter at conferences and summits.