2023 Milestones


2023 Milestones

We want to thank the Villars community and our partners for their great support and active engagement as the Villars Institute celebrates its 2nd anniversary this year and begins its 3rd year of programming. Below is a review of our key milestones achieved in 2023.
  • Partnered with the Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF) to showcase five talented artists to perform at the inaugural MJF Spotlight Sessions in Villars. The historic Villars Palace hosted winter performance including English singer Cherise, who has opened for Michael Kiwanuka and Jamie Cullum; Belgian singer Mentissa, nominated for a Victoires de la Musique award; up-and-coming indie pop artist Flowerovlove; post-pop French artist Aime Simone and Scottish soul-pop singer Joesef. The partnership aims to amplify the power of music to bridge generational divides and to highlight how a new generation of musical performers can raise awareness about the health of our planet.
  • Launched a groundbreaking intergenerational learning program on systems thinking in partnership with the Minerva Project, a pioneer in education innovation and creator of Minerva University and various collegiate and university programs worldwide. The interactive online program features three modules and is designed independently with a certificate from both organizations upon its completion. It is designed around the Villars Institute’s concept of systems leadership and applies frameworks and toolkits from systems thinking, adaptive problem solving, and purpose-driven leadership to understand effective systems change and leadership.

  • Deepened our collaboration with UWC Atlantic College & International Baccalaureate (IB) to help the development of a new curriculum anchoring in Systems Thinking that is fundamentally action-oriented. Replacing written exams and classroom-based learning with relevant, ambitious, necessary work in complex and authentic real-world contexts. A select group of pioneering students (16-19 yrs) have been chosen to take part in the "Systems Transformation Pathways" as part of their two-year IB Diploma Program. The first cohort of the pilot program will participate in the Villars Symposium this summer. The long-term aim is to make the pilot program available to nearly 2 million students studying at over 5'000 IB World School in 159 countries.

  • Organized the inaugural Villars Institute Summit ("Villars Summit") which convened over 250 experts, entrepreneurs, executives, and philanthropists to work together to accelerate the transition to a Net Zero and Nature Positive economy. The premise of the Villars Summit is that climate, energy, food, and biodiversity challenges must be addressed holistically and require intergenerational solutions. The Summit was organized under the Chatham House Rule and Villars Fellows served as session rapporteurs.

  • Invited Professor Tim Flannery, a globally renowned scientist, explorer, and conservationist to give the inaugural Villars Distinguished Lecture to open the 2023 Villars Summit. He has published over 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers and has named 25 living and 50 fossil mammal species. His 32 books include the award winning The Future Eaters and The Weather Makers, which has been translated into over 20 languages. Professor Flannery’s lecture introduced the principles of tribal cooperation that he discovered during 20 years of field work with indigenous communities and how they can be applied to break down the silos and barriers preventing us from interdisciplinary and intergenerational collaboration.

  • Organized the 2nd global consultation of the EAT Lancet Commission 2.0 at the Villars Institute Summit. The Commission’s Co-chairs, Walter Willett, Johan Rockström, and Shakuntala Thilsted met with 24 Commissioners from 17 countries to tailor the groundbreaking "Planetary Health Diet" guidelines to different cultural and geographical contexts.

  • Organized the 2nd Villars Symposium working closely with our Talent, Knowledge, and Project partners to advance systems leadership through interdisciplinary and intergenerational collaboration by convening experts, educators, and entrepreneurs to work with solutions-oriented youth on climate, energy, and biodiversity challenges in the context of the Villars Fellowship program.
  • Partnered with the Diablerets International Alpine Film Festival (FIFAD) which has worked with the world’s most renowned mountaineers and filmmakers since 1969 to chronicle and to celebrate the rich history of alpine cinematography. Over the last 50 years, FIFAD has spotlighted films which inspire us to protect nature in small communities as well as preserve biodiversity in vast landscapes.

  • FIFAD organized a special program which featured a bivouac experience for our Villars Fellows on the Tsanfleuron Glacier which spans over 2 kilometers reaching a highpoint of 3000 meters. FIFAD also organized its first ever Youth Prize, an award for which the Fellows nominate their favorite film from the festival. Members of the prize jury included the Villars Institute’s Youth Advisor, Jade Hameister, who is the youngest person to achieve the "polar hat-trick" of skiing to the North and South Poles, and across Greenland.

  • Published the inaugural Global Issues Survey of over 150 youth, representing more than 50 schools and 40 nationalities. The survey (PDF) explored how six global topics may shape the work, career, and daily lives of youth over the next five to ten years and shift the public discourse from eco-anxiety to eco-ambition among youth. The six global issues include: planetary health, net-zero and nature positive economy, energy transition, nature-based solutions, emerging technologies, and systems thinking & systems leadership.
  • Co-hosted the “Best of FIFAD” program at the Villars Palace which showcased the alpine film festival’s prize-winning entries and also featured a special lecture by Yann Arthus Bertrand renowned French environmentalist and nature photographer. The Villars Institute and FIFAD are collaborating to harness the storytelling power of film to promote intergenerational conversations that will raise awareness of solutions for climate change and biodiversity loss.

  • Partnered with ClimateForce to accelerate organic reforestation solutions at scale. The Tropical ReGen Initiative has planted over 360,000 native trees on a 527-acre site in the world's oldest tropical rainforest, the Daintree in Far North Queensland is in Australia. The Daintree Rainforest is around 180 million years old and estimated to be 10 million years older than the Amazon. The initiative has removed 45,000 tones of CO2 from the atmosphere. As well as helping to address greenhouse gas emissions, the trees planted are building a vital wildlife corridor between the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics World Heritage Sites. Villars Fellows have been given the unique opportunity to learn about organic reforestation techniques being tested for their biodiversity outcomes through the use of the latest data-tracking technologies and open-source data visualization tools.