Sustainable development

By rolling out Sustainable Development as a strategic area, BFH is playing a significant role in helping to transform our society and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through its teaching, research and continuing education, and by choosing to lead by example.

Areas of action and focus priorities

Sustainable development is implemented at BFH in four fields of action:

Research for a sustainable future

At the BFH, sustainability research is not understood as a discipline in its own right, but as a research field in the sense of a cross-cutting issue that is addressed in disciplinary as well as in inter- and transdisciplinary research.

Education for sustainable development

The sustainability-oriented concept of competences encompasses not only knowledge and skills but also corresponding attitudes. Future skills, data science, digital tools and soft skills such as social competence, creativity and communication are central elements of sustainable education at BFH.

Sustainable university operations

BFH designs its operations ecologically, socially and economically. By signing the Climate Emergency Letter (new "Race to Zero for Universities an Colleges") and the corresponding strategy goals, the BFH is striving for climate neutrality in 2030. A corresponding roadmap for climate neutrality is currently being prepared, in which the necessary, realisable measures will be defined.

BFH is a Founding Partner of Nature Positive Universities, a growing UNEP network of over 400 higher education institutions around the world that promote and preserve intact nature on campuses, in supply chains and in cities and communities.

Social participation

A mutual, partnership-based exchange of knowledge, ideas, experience, innovations and technologies with other universities and partners and decision-makers from politics and administration, civil society and the private sector, but also internally with staff and students, is a central concern of the BFH.


The BFH concentrates on 4 focus priorities that require comprehensive social change, are of particular relevance to Switzerland and can be addressed in a transdisciplinary manner.

This priority deals extensively with food and nutrition. From production to consumption, food systems are comprehensively covered. Considering all relevant players, it addresses the interactions between value chains and the environment in a social and political context. BFH aims to establish new development paths to food systems which ensure the regenerative capability of the natural systems and enable sufficient supply of healthy food to be achieved globally.

This priority deals with the development of settlement areas from a social and ecological perspective. It focuses on upgrading spaces to improve quality of life and incorporating resilient eco-systems. By analysing the multifunctional capacity of spaces and conducting participative experiments, BFH seeks to promote a common understanding and enhancement of spaces. New transdisciplinary methods are being developed to redefine multi-perspective processes of planning, construction and usage.

This priority deals with the transition to a circular, climate-friendly economy. A circular economy is vital if natural resources are to be conserved and climate goals attained. To achieve this, the interaction between energy, mobility, infrastructure, construction and materials systems will be analysed and their dependencies and correlations pinpointed. BFH aims to incorporate these results into the fostering of innovation to a greater extent and to explore successful implementation of such initiatives in the context of social, political and economic framework conditions.

This priority deals with social transformation. New visions and narratives are required to achieve this goal. Existing dilemmas must be resolved and new innovative approaches supported.  BFH is hoping to derive new implementation strategies that take account of social justice and planetary limits, and to place the focus on contributions from the fields of art, culture and education.

Sustainabilty report 2021

The sustainability report, published for the first time, documents how the BFH lives and experiences sustainability in the areas of education, research and operations, as well as together with society.

Education for sustainable development


One of the first interdepartmental projects at BFH was the launch of the SUSTAINS platform in 2020. Aimed specifically at students, it is designed to help them develop and launch sustainable projects. BFH and its students are to act as stakeholders, supporting the ongoing transformation process in various ways as we move towards greater sustainability in business and society.  

BFH diagonal – Optional modules for students

With BFH diagonal you can study beyond your own subject areas, expand your skills and individualise your degree profile. The new optional offer comprises over 100 modules - including many on the topic of sustainability.

Master of Science Circular Innovation and Sustainability

The BFH has developed a new interdepartmental Master Circular Innovation & Sustainability, which specifically trains professionals who want to actively shape the transformation to the circular economy. Interested?

Certificate of Engagement in Sustainability

The Certificate of Engagement in Sustainability (CES) gives you the opportunity to acquire knowledge, skills and experience in the field of sustainable development as part of your studies and to demonstrate these to potential employers.

Association for Sustainable Development at Bern Universities (BENE)

BENE is a meeting platform for students and staff at Bern’s universities. The interdisciplinary group of students and staff brings together different views of Sustainable Development and is resolved to tackle and solve challenges holistically.

Research for a sustainable future

In addition to discipline-specific results, the focus is on inter- and transdisciplinary research findings, as these are central due to the complexity and multi-causality of societal challenges. BFH's sustainability-oriented research takes ecological principles into account in the research process and ensures that research results are published in a generally accessible manner and are used by society.

Research projects

About us

In its research areas, BFH creates knowledge for the necessary social transformation and enables its graduates to actively participate in this transformation in their future professional field and as part of society.
It respects and protects the dignity of people and nature and invests its resources in the interest of sustainable results.
In the strategic field of sustainable development, the BFH is guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the 2030 Agenda, the BFH's own guiding principles and basic attitudes, as well as the guidelines of the DG hoch-n sustainability network.


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