Isolation as a formula for preserving our natural environment? People who subscribe to this idea and support the Ecopop initiative are wrong on two counts: the environment and natural resources can only be effectively protected and studied through cross-border cooperation. And: the success of Switzerland - and the strength of its research - is intricately linked to its openness and readiness to connect with the world.
The strict limitation of immigration demanded by Ecopop has no effect on the most pressing global challenges with regard to the protection of our environment and basis of existence. Climate change, the development of renewable energies and sustainable food production can only be tackled successfully by the international community as a whole. This is particularly true where research is concerned. Through international research collaborations, Switzerland can contribute significantly to innovative solutions aimed at halting the increasing consumption of natural resources and damage to the environment by humans. As an isolated entity, Switzerland will not be able to solve these problems, least of all by imposing a rigid limitation on immigration and well-meant attempts at birth control in developing countries.
If we say yes to the Ecopop initiative, Switzerland will be largely excluded from European research cooperation in the future. Accepting the initiative would also have far-reaching consequences for research in Switzerland. As a result of the rigid limitation of immigration, Swiss higher education institutions would find it almost impossible to recruit highly qualified researchers from abroad in order to remain at the cutting edge of research. This would seriously threaten the position that Switzerland holds today as an important and attractive hub of research and innovation.
Our openness and flexibility have helped to produce a flourishing Swiss economy and research scene in the past decades. Let's make sure this does not come to an abrupt end - by emphatically saying NO! on 30 November.
President of the Foundation Council of the SNSF