Chasing Coral – Movie Screening

Chasing Coral – Movie Screening


On the 12th of December 2017, the EC hosted its second movie screening of the academic year. Around twenty students gathered to watch the Netflix Original documentary Chasing Coral, produced and directed by Jeff Orlowski, and released in July 2017.

The documentary features a team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a journey to document the disappearance of the world’s coral reefs. The documentary provides viewers with a series of alarming facts about a problem that, for most, seems to be “out of sight, out of mind”. There is no doubt that the disappearance of the world’s corals is a result of global climate change, the film argues: 93% of the rise in temperatures is absorbed by the oceans, thus making the seas the locus of the most indisputable damage. The majority of the documentary focuses on the gravity of the issue; since Australia’s massive Great Barrier Reef lost nearly a third of its coral in 2016, there is a constant sense of urgency as documenting the disappearance of corals is, in fact, a race against time. This seemed appropriate to many students, since the most pessimistic predictions indicate that the disappearance of coral reefs could mean the collapse of the whole global ecosystem.

Once the documentary ended, students gathered around some fruit and snacks, as well as some locally brewed biological beer produced in the neighbouring Pays de Gex (France), to discuss its content and share their thoughts. During these discussions, many students highlighted their disappointment in the documentary ending on an upbeat note (by asserting the possibility of restoring coral life through changes in human behaviour), especially after portraying the issue with the appropriate amount of urgency. Overall, there was consensus regarding the spectacular images shown in the documentary (thus showing the Chasing Coral team reached their primary goal of documenting the impact of climate change on corals through photography), and everyone left the screening more aware of the issues our oceans are facing due to climate change.

Trip to Environmental House

Trip to Environmental House


As one of its initiatives aimed at giving Graduate Institute students closer insights into global environmental issues and careers in sustainability, the Environmental Committee last week organized a visit to the International Environment House. The Environment House, just twenty minutes by tram from Maison de la Paix, gathers 22 UN organizations and 19 non-governmental organizations under one roof, all striving for a more sustainable world.

Ever since the 1960s, leading organisations in the struggle for environmental protection have been coming to Geneva to establish their headquarters, secretariats, or offices. The objective of our visit was to learn more about some of the subjects they deal with, as well as about the day-to-day work in the field of environment and sustainability.

After being kindly welcomed by the coordinator of the Geneva Environmental Network, we were given a short introduction about the International Environment House and the ecosystem of environmental organisations in Geneva. Three UN Environment professionals gave us insights into their work, drawing a fascinating picture of the incredible diversity of topics which the broad issue of sustainability encompasses. One of them explained to us the intricacies of carbon pricing, green fiscal policies, and the ways in which UN Environment endeavours to facilitate the transition to an inclusive green economy.

Another senior professional gave us an understanding of the role of natural resources and the environment in conflict and peacebuilding – an often overlooked issue.  He elaborated on how severe environmental degradation can be both a cause and a consequence of conflict, and how its management can be used as a tool in reconciliation. Most interestingly, he showed us astonishing pictures and footage from some of his missions. For instance, in Colombia he encountered disastrous deforestation and  mercury contamination caused by illegal mining during the civil conflict.

The final presenter, a Program Officer from the UN Environment Chemicals and Health Branch, illustrated to us how sound management of chemicals and waste is integrated into all 17 SDGs. He is currently responsible for the improvement of cross-sectoral governance for the sound management of chemicals at national and local levels. The work of his Branch, at the intersection between political processes and economic interests, has managed over more than a decade to significantly influence national development plans and strategies on that issue.

It was fascinating to be shown, in just one afternoon, a patchwork of so many different ramifications of environmental degradation, along with the strategies used to deal with them. Hearing professionals who have been active in environment and sustainability for many years tell us about their concrete experiences in the field and explaining to us the issues they deal with on a daily basis was inspiring, and certainly particularly valuable for students exposed to new ideas and perspectives on their own environment related research at the Graduate Institute.

Living and studying in International Geneva has many benefits, and being able to so directly access such an incredible pool of knowledge and experience in the field some of us feel most strongly about is most definitely one of the greatest of them.




The EC is ready for 2018!

The EC is ready for 2018!

EC President

With a good glass of wine and snacks, the EC members met to decide by vote who will be vice-president and president for the year 2018. We were happy to receive also the majority of GISA members and Vanessa Valerio from Développement Durable IHEID.

The incumbent president Marc Weilenmann introduced the election with a short review of his term. Most memorable for him was the farm field trip to “Aigues Vertes”. In the last two semesters the EC grew from 3 to 17 members and started working more project-specific in the all-famous “EC-clusters”. We also found a firm place within the Graduate Institute as the most active student-led initiative. Before commencing the election, he expressed his gratitude for the continuous support from GISA, the Graduate Institute, and, most importantly, from all the dedicated EC members!

Three candidates ran for President indicating the amount of vision and ideas within the EC. With much applause (for and from all candidates) Gianluca Gygax was elected new President of the Environmental Committee. Amongst others, he proposed to give the EC a more dynamic and accessible image.

Malvika Verma was approved unanimously to continue her work as Vice-President. This semester, she had taken up a major part of coordinating the EC by gradually stepping in for the former Vice-President, Daniel Reimers. The applause dedicated to her echoed the EC members’ enthusiasm to make the EC evolve with her.

For the reminder of the semester, the EC will focus on completing a smooth transition and getting ready for the next semester! There are many exciting ideas and opportunities waiting for us in 2018… think about the Swiss Sustainability Week that we will co-host in Geneva with the environmental committee of the UNIGE (EDD)!

But until then, we have two pieces of good news for you. First, there will be SCOOP Fidelity Cards that you can get next Tuesday at noon – each card is a single piece, handmade and 100% recycled! Second, we will screen “Chasing Coral” the 12th of December, 6.30 p.m. – perfect to switch off your head during exams time!

On a personal note, I would like to thank to every single member of the EC that has been part of a journey that started one year ago. Your enthusiasm, engagement, and friendship is the best salary one could have hoped for.