Building the Future - Now

Jan 27, 2022 - 4 min read

President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis

We live in times of unprecedented change and exponential transformation. New technologies and breakthroughs in science are not only changing the economy, but also challenging societies, political systems and the international multilateral order. The rapid development of new technologies has an impact on all our lives and thus on how people organize themselves, how we manufacture things and how we do business together. We cannot predict the future. Like Danish physicist, Niels Bohr, put it: “It is difficult to predict, especially the future.” However, even if we cannot predict the future, we can make it possible by anticipating and shaping it.

Using the future to build the present

Every year, Bitcoin Suisse offers a fascinating trend analysis on what is to be expected in the crypto sector in the near future. The Geneva Science Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) looks even further ahead. With its vision “Using the future to build the present”, the Foundation seeks to understand frontier scientific breakthroughs and leverage them, where appropriate, in the interests of the collective welfare of humanity. What may be in store for us in the next 5, 10 or even 25 years is compiled in the first GESDA Breakthrough Radar, which has recently been published. I highly recommend reading it! What was once confined to the realms of science fiction is much closer today than we might think.

It is no coincidence that GESDA and Bitcoin Suisse are based in Geneva and Zug respectively. Switzerland, as a haven of innovation and a neutral platform for dialogue, is very well positioned not only to anticipate this development, but above all to shape it. With our leading universities and research institutions, a strong financial centre and a regulatory framework conducive to innovation, Switzerland can play an important role in shaping a global environment that addresses the formidable challenges facing our planet.

Bringing the opportunities in the crypto space to the benefit of all

In order to make better use of the potential offered by technological developments, the Swiss Federal Council adopted its first strategy for a digital foreign policy at the end of last year. The strategy identifies four areas of action. One of them is the use of digital technologies to help achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and fulfilling the 2030 Agenda. Digitalization should never be an end in itself, but rather serve as an enabler and facilitator.

What these developments translated into reality in crypto space look like is demonstrated by the Swiss Development Cooperation: the SDC uses blockchain technology in order to track legal logging and therefore foster a sustainable timber industry in Peru. At the academic level, the Swiss Embassy in South Africa enabled the establishment of a blockchain Co-Chair between Switzerland and South Africa and organized the Incube Challenge of the ETHZ on blockchain for the first time on the African continent. In addition, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) signed an agreement with the Crypto Valley Venture Capital (CVVC) to support an ecosystem in South Africa with an expertise transfer from the Swiss Crypto Valley.

Addressing the challenges to seize the opportunities

New technologies offer countless opportunities. However, we must not ignore the challenges that come with them. For example, we need to minimize the environmental footprint of new technologies such as blockchain in the future. More research and innovation is needed to ensure that these new technologies support sustainable development.

Last but not least, we need to build up new platforms, which shape the global governance of new technologies and the fields of application. In this respect, International Geneva plays a crucial role as it hosts some of the most important international organizations in international governance, which can form a trusted environment for the application of new technologies. So that in the end, we can all benefit from this progress: in Switzerland and around the world.

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