15 April 2008
As a continuation of their collaboration with Generation Investment Management, the private bankers Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie announce today the creation of a new chair at EPFL dedicated to sustainable development. The chair is a major effort to stimulate research and education between fundamental and social sciences in the environmental domain.
This evening Al Gore will speak to an audience of 1500 Research Day participants, before receiving a Doctor honoris causa from the hands of EPFL President Patrick Aebischer. Hundreds of students have been eagerly awaiting this conference, during which they will present their research, share project ideas, or gain inspiration from the latest results in other laboratories. This new generation of scientists concerned with environmental questions will also have the opportunity to hear from the President of the Swiss Confederation, Pascal Couchepin. But the announcement of the day comes from Thierry Lombard, with the creation of a Chair in sustainable development at EPFL. Lombard, Senior Partner at Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie, outlined the objectives of this new research and teaching position: "This Chair, which is part of an ongoing partnership between Generation Investment Management and Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie , will be headed by an exceptional young scientist, whose task will be the following: to establish a pertinent link between our understanding of environmental phenomena and human behavior in a way that will significantly influence the academic and scientific community. This new professor and his or her team will engage not only in original research but also in teaching activities aimed at students and decision-makers." The Chair's specific area of environmental interest will be announced once the candidate selection process has reached its conclusion, in accordance with EPFL's rules concerning academic freedom. It will go by the name LODH Chair for Future Generations.
"This Chair will allows us to fulfil our objectives of bringing added value to the new knowledge created in our laboratories and of bringing these results to bear on the major challenges of our time," said Patrick Aebischer.
"Solving the climate crisis will require the efforts of business, finance, governments and individuals, but it is clear that the academic world, and the leading edge research that it produces, will be crucial to the development of a sustainable society," notes David Blood, CEO of Generation.
The new Chair will draw upon the extensive environmental science and engineering proficiency at EPFL and elsewhere in Switzerland. With its diversity of climate zones and topography, and the high quality of its scientific infrastructure and expertise, Switzerland is becoming increasingly visible as an ideal place in which to conduct environmental research.
The LODH Chair for Future Generations will also collaborate with the numerous international institutions in the Lake Geneva area to establish ties between scientific data, large-scale climate predictions, and societal evolution. In particular, these issues will be studied using quantitative models, complementing approaches in the social sciences and humanities. In this way the Chair will bring an original contribution to the vast question of sustainable development, an issue that is rooted in the relationship between humans and their environment.
Indeed, Al Gore and David Blood, co-founders of Generation, were present at the Research Day conference in Lausanne in an effort to raise awareness of the connections between human activity and the environment.
As Al Gore reminds us, “the climate crisis is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level.”
This opportunity, it appears, has been seized.