Initiatives: Local action
for sustainable development

Christian Ferrazino

Christian Ferrazino, Deputy Mayor of the City of Geneva until June 2007

Pierre-Franзois Unger

Pierre- Francois Unger, State Councilor and member of the Executive of the Republic and State of Geneva

Geneva City and Canton / UNEP

Geneva's Sustainable Development Festival:
A lasting partnership

Christian Ferrazino, Deputy Mayor of the City of Geneva, and Pierre-Francois Unger, State Councilor and member of the Executive of the Republic and State of Geneva.

Fixing sustainable development in the minds of Geneva's inhabitants presents a formidable communication challenge. In response, the Canton and City of Geneva have developed awareness strategies directed to the general public based on the idea that improving the global situation depends on simple, effective, local practices that can be applied and copied in everyday life.

The canton and city have combined their communication and awareness efforts in organizing a Festival of Sustainable Development every year since 2002. It has three main aims:

The festival is also an occasion to reward the initiatives of private bodies and associations through the presentation of a cantonal scholarship and prize in sustainable development, also open to candidates from neighboring regions of France and the Nyon district in the canton de Vaud.

The event has put down a solid foundation over the course of the years and has the support of more than 140 institutions, international organizations and public bodies including the Canton and City of Geneva's own services, plus associations and businesses. The latter have shown a growing interest in the festival. Its impact goes well beyond the event itself. The festival is organized around the recognition that still too often the general public considers sustainable development to be an abstract theory, restrictive and unfriendly. To get beyond this perception, each exhibitor is asked to show visitors concrete steps by which they can learn skills and reproducible practices with the aim that eventually they will adopt these for themselves. The entertainment side is provided by shows, workshops, discussion forums and concerts closely linked to the theme of sustainable development. What better indication of success than the number of these visitors? From 3000 in 2002, the festival has grown to attract 20,000 in 2006. Year by year it is becoming an event that is more and more appreciated by the local population, and its success encourages us to continue to explore the convivial and partnership dimension of sustainable development in Geneva.

Agenda 21, State of Geneva: www.geneve.ch
Agenda 21, City of Geneva: www.ville-ge.ch
Geneva Sustainable Development Festival: etat.geneve.ch