Geneva: The Peace Capital


Presentation written by:

Joris Ducrot,

Marion Salendres,

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU,


Aerial photography of Geneva

(Source :,


Geneva is a global city, and one of the world’s major centres of international diplomacy, having served as the site of numerous international organizations, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the United Nations and the Red Cross. Geneva is in fact the city with the highest number of international organizations in the world.

Geneva was recently ranked as the world’s fifteenth most important financial centre of competitiveness by the Global Financial Centres Index.

The city is also referred to as the “Peace Capital” and it has the third-highest quality of life of any city in the world.

Geneva is one of the greenest cities in Europe with 20% of the country covered in green areas. They contribute greatly to the quality of life of its inhabitants and this earned it the nickname “City of parks”.

Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland after Zurich and the municipality has a population of about 200 000 habitants.

The first part of the presentation focuses on the environmental and social actions in Geneva. The second part presents several responsible companies and foundations.


Environmental and social actions

The layout and the urban buildings

Geneva invests every year in sustainable development, renovation and construction projects. With the administration of its 800 public buildings, the city incorporates in the various construction and maintenance processes the issue of energy saving and heritage preservation.

In this way, Geneva also builds eco-districts: an eco-district is an urban neighbourhood which is part of a sustainable development perspective, it must minimize the impact on the environment, promote economic development, quality of life, diversity and social integration. The city plans to equip the Junction Eco-district. It will include a nursery, a gym, premises for extracurricular activities and an activity room.

The majority of renovation and building projects of Geneva respect the main goal 100% renewable. This energy concept applies concretely during each construction and renovation. Indeed, the 100% renewable solutions exist locally and are multiple: sun, air, water, heat from the earth, biomass. Moreover, energy-efficient buildings do not necessarily imply additional costs because they allow a significant reduction in heating costs. For example, childcare centre Chateaubriand is a building with positive energy: it produces more energy than it consumes.

Childcare centre Chateaubriand


Energy in Geneva

The city of Geneva has a long-term vision about its energy expenditure. The city’s policy is clear, it is committed to using 100% renewable energy in 2050. Concrete building and renovation measures allow to reduce dependence on non-renewable resources like fossil and nuclear energy. Actually, the biggest expenditure of the city is the heating system so the energy bill of the city decreases with these adjustments.

The results of this strategy can already be seen:

  • Since the 1980’s, heat consumption has decreased by 40%.
  • The electricity supply of Geneva is fully respectful of the environment. The municipality has built 19 solar photovoltaic plants since 2000 to have this energy autonomy. Between 2009 and 2015, the photovoltaic area as well as the production of power plants more than doubled.
  • Geneva has reduced its electricity consumption by 36% in recent years.
  • The actions on water use initiated since 1996 have made it possible to reduce by 35% the volume of water consumed by the city.

Through its energy choices in terms of heating, lighting or water management, it is committed to a global approach that aims to reduce its impact on the climate.


The evolution of the water consumption since 2005

Evolution of solar power plants production since 2003

(Source: activities report 2015, energy department, city of Geneva)

Thus, thanks to its commitments and efforts, Geneva has received several awards and certification labels, which reward its exemplary energy attitude.

  • European Energy Award Gold (2010 and 2014), the EEA GOLD is reserved for municipalities certified “Cités de l’énergie” whose score exceeds 75% of objectives achieved in terms of energy and climate policy.
  • Swiss solar award (1992, 2015, 2016), since 1991 the Swiss Solar Agency awards Solar Prizes annually to individuals and institutions involved in the construction of energy-efficient buildings and solar installations.
  • Watt d’Or (2012), The Federal Office of Energy has awarded Geneva for a LED bulb development; it reduces the bulb power consumption by 90%.


Ecological commitment


Geneva states that the fight against global warming is not just a matter of politics, the city explains that the sustainable development starts with small daily actions. The city shares many websites to inform and guide on the different way to save energy every day.

Finally, concerning energy saving awareness, the municipality provides a poster in form of cartoon to raise children’s awareness about sustainable development.

This superhero named “EcoMax” teaches children about energy issues while having fun. The poster is intended for schools in the City of Geneva. It introduces a fictional character who comes to the planet rescue and who is aware of the environmental problems caused by excessive energy consumption. He sets the example for children, makes them think about how they consume and suggests them acting all together to reduce our energy needs.


Geneva and sustainable development

If the entire population of the Earth lived like the Swiss, we would need three planets!

Today, Geneva acts to reduce the environmental and social impact of its activities, to fight inequalities, while developing a sustainable and innovative local economy.

The municipality is a local leader regarding the sustainable development, so it is also committed in the sustainable and responsible mobility. Geneva is developing pedestrian areas by laying sound-absorbing surfaces and constructing suitable layouts. It is also developing its cycle paths network. However the policy of this sustainable mobility is supported by local associations: for example, “Genèveroule” provides bicycles for the public and “Pro vélo” organizes driving courses and visits to promote the cycling network.

Moreover, the city promotes sustainable and local food in school canteens, it maintains and develops sustainable development education projects in primary and secondary schools, as part of extracurricular activities.

Geneva school of economics and management offers a diploma in CSR, Certificate of Advanced Studies – CAS. Designed for professionals from private companies, NGOs, international organisations and the public sector.

Otherwise, Geneva leads an active greening policy to expand green spaces and improve the quality of life in the neighbourhoods. It contributes to the planting of new trees, and the transformation of the concrete spaces in green constructions. The city is also committed to abandoning the use of chemicals in the maintenance of its green spaces by 2019. Its staff opts for alternative techniques that respect the environment.


Geneva, a committed city

The city of Geneva is implementing an active policy to promote diversity. It develops a responsible, inclusive and non-discriminatory administration within the framework of the Diversity Policy adopted by the Administrative Council.

The city proposes specific measures to fight against common preconceptions, stereotypes, religion, nationality or ethnic origin. It implements a policy promoting equality between women and men and combating sexism and gender stereotypes, homophobia and transphobia. Otherwise, Geneva promotes a policy of social inclusion, by developing local solidarity. It sets up actions to support isolated elderly people; it supports families in temporary or lasting difficulty; it accompanies young people who dropout to improve their situation.

Geneva continues its work in favour of the professional integration of people looking for work. It has a particular attentions for the people far removed from the labour market especially because of their gender, age and status, and promises learning and training priorities.

Zero homeless goal in Geneva. The municipality offers emergency shelters for people living in homelessness and inadequate housing who need it, and Geneva conducts prevention and accompanying policy by helping people in the most difficult circumstances to have decent accommodation. Moreover, Geneva is making every effort to help the Canton to receive, integrate and give shelter to persons fleeing conflict zones, with particular attention to the well-being of children.

Finally, in the field of international solidarity, the city of Geneva actively cooperates with the actors of international cooperation to finance development and humanitarian projects.

In 2016, the city devoted 0.61% of its budget to international solidarity, from 0.59% in 2015. In 2016, half of the funds went directly to projects chosen by the City of Geneva, the other half has been delegated to the Geneva Federation of Cooperation for the financing of projects from its members.


The negative aspects

Despite all the good intentions of the city to become an eco-responsible city, Geneva is struggling to meet its objectives for 100% renewable energy by 2050. As we can see on the following graph, the share of renewable energy remains below the targets.

Source: activities report 2015, energy department, city of Geneva

2. Companies and foundations in Geneva

There are numerous companies practicing corporate social management in Geneva, and Swiss SMEs have been active in the area of CSR for years.

We mentioned some of them below:


Caran d’Ache is a Swiss manufacturer of school, office, art and luxury writing instruments, founded in Geneva in 1915.

This company places human being at the core of its development and it commits to respect an ethical charter that guarantees:

  • respect for human rights (particularly, no discrimination in hiring) and respect for the human being
  • equal treatment between men and women in employment
  • respect for confidentiality concerning employees
  • transparency of HR measures and actions
  • participatory policy
  • communication and listening

The purpose of this strategy is motivation, employees’ satisfaction, as well as performance, diligence and quality. It’s also a way to contribute to sustainable development through CSR by the awareness and recognition of the corporate values.

The Maison Caran d’Ache also works to preserve the natural environment and its resources, the company has undertaken many commitments for sustainable development. In fact, the company holds several labels such as qualitative production and environmental management standards, and certifications with a view to respecting forestry resources. They also optimize energy efficiency and closed-cycle processing of metals.

The manufacturing is concentrated in Geneva and the quality of their products is based on criteria of Swiss reliability. The production facilities consistently incorporate best practices in terms of the social, environmental and economic life of its structures, and in its exchanges with suppliers and partners.

Thanks to its long term vision, the company ensures equilibrium between sustainable quality and ethical environment.

Serbeco is a family company, pioneer in the field of collection, sorting, recycling and recovery of wastes in Geneva. They collect and sort more than 80,000 tons of wastes every year in the canton of Geneva.

Since its origin, this company combines social responsibility, professional reintegration, economic efficiency and environmental commitment. Social responsibility is central to their work and this company cultivates a global vision of sustainable development.

For example, the company of 100 employees hires people from prison environment who have served their prison sentences. They also guarantee equal salaries for men and women through the certification Equal Salary.

Serbeco combines well-being at work, healthcare, continuing training and apprenticeship, and supports its staff in their careers. The company favours dialogue and cooperation contributing to develop commitment, motivation and collaborators loyalty.

From an environmental point of view, renewable energy is central to their business. They work with hybrid and electric vehicles which provide three benefits :

  • CO2 emission reduced by 20%
  • Noise pollution reduced
  • Use of CO2 neutral biofuel

Since 2011, a photovoltaic plant has been powering their hybrid vehicles and the machines on the site. It also integrates a photovoltaic panel roof on their sorting hall, producing a part of their annual electricity consumption.

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "BNP paribas"

BNP Paribas in Switzerland considers itself as a responsible bank.

In fact, this bank is concerned about the active and responsible management of human resources and professional integration issues, collaborating with the foundation “Intégration pour tous” (IPT) and with the Etablissement Publics pour l’intégration (EPI).

They also work to preserve the environment by identifying the direct and indirect impacts of their business activities. In order to limit their energy consumption, they have installed photovoltaic panels on the roof of their main building in Geneva.

Moreover, they have put in place a waste sorting system in their bank’s cafeterias and the shuttle bus service connecting the BNP Paribas buildings in Geneva runs on natural gas.

PNB Paribas responsibilities

Source: BNP paribas swiss website

Philias is a non-profit foundation founded in 2000 by Bettina Ferdman, self-financed and recognized as a public interest organization. Philias Foundation is based in Geneva and Zurich and its main task is to promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and put it into practice.


It’s a unique network of companies promoting social responsibility in Switzerland and its mission is “Create social progress through better business”.

Philias works together with several national and international partners and it consists of a network of 122 companies, a team of 8 experts, academics partners (Geneva university, EPFZ…) and 157 CSR expert organizations in the world.


Philias accompany private companies from different sectors by putting into practice their corporate responsibility and organizing actions with a positive impact on the community.

This organization proposes various services such as:

– partnerships development between private companies and public sectors

– diagnostics, benchmark and CSR strategies for private companies and foundations

– employee training in CSR programmes management

– help establish relations between private companies and their stakeholders


Philias wants to show to CEOs and their employees that there is a place for community projects within company strategy.

They carried out several achievements since their beginning in 2000. For example:

– They convinced several businesses that CSR is an issue and must be addressed

– They gained acknowledgement from the State of Andhra Pradesh (India) that child labour actually exists, by instating discussions between the region’s multinationals and NGO’s

– They convinced Human Resources Directors that disabled persons can be highly productive and add value to the business

– They got dozens of CEOs to explain publicly why and how they put CSR into practice

– They organized several conferences on CSR :


Philias holds the event “Humagora” every year. It’s a platform for citizen dialogue and exchange that was created by the organization in order to positively impact society through the promotion and multiplication of partnerships between the private and the non-profit organization sectors. In 2015, the event brought together more than 150 people at FER’s premises in Geneva.


Philias Foundation also organizes CSR Day with different theme each year.

This event serves as a platform where companies can exchange experiences and learn about different subjects. It’s a unique opportunity for businesses to share best practices on Corporate Social Responsibility and to discuss about major challenges at global level such as employability, increasing urbanization, the economic crises and demographic change.



Websites and bibliographie