Focus: Aquatic research for sustainable development

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by the UN in 2015 and is to be implemented globally by 2030 – also by Switzerland. In this newsletter, we illustrate how Eawag’s research contributes to achieving these objectives. We are starting on our own doorstep, but are also helping to achieve objectives more quickly and easily elsewhere. All contributions are based on the presentations given by Eawag researchers and external experts at the Eawag Info Day 2023 on 14 September.

“The Sustainable Development Goals are part of everything we do”

Sustainability has been a key focus at Eawag for a long time – and not only since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. Eawag researcher Christoph Lüthi, for one, has been working in this field for many years. Read more

Foto: Alessandro Della Bella, Eawag

Foto: iStock

“We’re on the right path, but the pace is still too slow”
Switzerland is also committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Daniel Dubas, Federal Council delegate for Agenda 2030, explains why we are a “developing country”, what challenges we must overcome, and what role research plays in this. Read more

Foto: Isabel Plana, Eawag

More green and blue in cities to enhance liveability
There are many challenges that face cities in the era of climate change and rising population density, including heatwaves, floods, loss of biodiversity and increasing demand for energy. Eawag is researching how these problems could be mitigated using blue-green infrastructure. Read more

Foto: Alessandro Della Bella, Eawag

Keeping the emergency exit clear for aquatic organisms
Just like humans, the inhabitants of rivers and streams need an emergency exit when they are faced with impending danger. But structures that would normally provide shelter during floods or droughts are now almost non-existent in straightened, channelised and built-up watercourses. How these refugia can be retained and restored is the subject of research by river ecologist Christine Weber. Read more

Foto: Autarky, Eawag

Autarky – ultimate convenience in a one-stop solution
Eawag develops technologies for the decentralised treatment of wastewater in locations with no sewers or mains water supply. These technologies are not only of interest in the Global South. Read more

Foto: Peter Penicka, Eawag

An expert in the human factor
What is a psychologist doing working at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology? A portrait of Nadja Contzen, who knows about the role humans play in the success of new water technologies and why handwashing is not a matter of course. Read more

Foto: Ariane Schertenleib

Low-tech solutions for clean drinking water
In Nepal, access to drinking water supply is relatively good, but the water quality is often insufficient. The water is rarely tested, because there is a lack of equipment. Researchers from Eawag therefore work to develop simple and affordable solutions that are suitable for local conditions. Read more

Foto: Flickr, Axel Fassio/CIFOR

Pollutants in groundwater: uncovering blind spots with machine learning
Eawag researchers Joel Podgorski and Michael Berg have developed a model that can be used to determine the risk of groundwater contamination – for example, with arsenic, fluoride or nitrate – on a worldwide basis despite extensive gaps in the measurement data. Read more

Foto: Philipp Staudacher, Eawag

Solving the pesticide problem in dialogue with agriculture
Pesticides put natural ecosystems and human health at risk. Through its research, Eawag is exposing the pesticide contamination in bodies of water and laying key foundations for more sustainable agricultural practices. Read more

The Info Day magazine
All articles from this newsletter can also be found in the Info Day magazine (in German and French).

Browse through the magazine online in German or French

 Download the magazine as a PDF in German or French

Order the magazine as a print edition

Stay tuned: Eawag Info Day 2024 on “Blue-Green Biodiversity”
The next Info Day on 3 September 2024 in Dübendorf will present the results of the joint research initiative "Blue-Green Biodiversity" of Eawag and WSL and will be conducted jointly by the two research institutes. Interested? Then send us an email to, so that we can send you the programme flyer as soon as it is published.

Cover picture: Symbols of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in which water is a central theme. These goals are at the heart of Eawag’s research (Watercolour: Eawag Communications / Philipp Ringli).

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