Poor weather, rich conversations
A dull and cold November weekend on the banks of Lake Geneva is not an obvious attraction.

However, some 50 hard-working and talented men and women of all ages and backgrounds, and from three continents, chose to pass a grey weekend near Geneva for a series of "conversations". The overall aim was to contribute to advancing global society in a positive direction by reinforcing existing links, creating new networks and optimising synergies in their multiple projects and competencies to move forward with greater efficiency and effectiveness.

The catalyst and link between these participants was the 20th anniversary of the Geneva-based CSEND organization (, a focus for social and economic development. The idea of the co-founders, Prof. Raymond Saner and Prof. Lichia Yiu, was to gather friends, colleagues, partners and contacts from multiple sectors encountered over the years to share experience, avoid re-inventing the wheel, develop synergy and provide mutual encouragement with the general aim of advancing triple bottom line development (economic, environmental and social) on a global scale.


The event attracted participants from the continents of Europe, Africa and America. They brought diverse and rich experience ranging from government, diplomacy, information technology, top universities and business schools on both sides of the Atlantic, management, projects to support developing countries, music, digital arts, bio-diversity, psychiatry, standardization and social projects such as the job placement of the mentally handicapped and the better integration of immigrants and the socially disadvantaged into society.

A measure of the importance given by participants to the event was that they met their own travel (for several including trans-Atlantic flights) and accommodation expenses (at the Ecumenical Institute at the Château de Bossey,

They engaged whole-heartedly in “conversations” (underlining the informal and sharing nature of the event) on topics covering: trade and international relations; governance; war and peace; democratising public space; employment, global supply chains and technology innovation; social contract and social fabric; what differentiates  public- from private-sector goods; art and society. In addition to the range of challenges addressed, the event was coloured in particular by three characteristics:

  • The sheer diversity of participants and the rich experience they were able to contribute, ranging from service: with Swiss and German governmental organizations for foreign affairs, trade and development; agriculture and bio-diversity; multi-linguists, and the organisers of digital art workshops in Europe, Asia and America
  • The fact that a number of participants were living proof of the false nature of beliefs that age or a long experience in one sector prevents new departures. Examples were two former bankers (one British, the other French), one of whom now searches for new talent among young classical musicians throughout Europe, and the other who teaches at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France, on innovation and entrepreneurship
  • The age range of participants, from +70-year-olds with experience in diplomacy, government and United Nations organizations, to a young woman participating in the European mission for training police officers in Afghanistan, to four young musicians comprising a Geneva-based string quartet with day time jobs ranging from musicology to nuclear physics, business analysis and environmental development (Four Seasons string quartet, contact: )

One of the participants summed up the ethos of the CSEND event by saying: “The intent is to provide thought into the minds of doers, and lessons from concrete reality into the minds of thinkers. The combination of the two is essential for ensuring that the global community can tackle its numerous challenges.”

The organisers of the event and co-managers of CSEND, Prof. Raymond Saner and Prof. Lichia Yiu, commented: “We invited colleagues, clients, partners, friends and mentors encountered over the last 20 years to come and share their reflections, concerns, insights and solutions, and to explore together how we could provide sustainable solutions to our enterprises, societies, the  international community and future generations.

“Our conversations were informal and collegial. There was no performance pressure - just a thread of encounters between people from different backgrounds and nationalities who are interested to share with us and each other the desire to explore unknown avenues that could lead us all towards sustainable and equitable solutions for the common future for our societies.”

The CSEND 20th anniversary will lead to the opening of a LinkedIn group for participants in the event and new partners who wish to contribute their experience and to future developments.

In the meantime, more information can be obtained from:

Mario Filadoro
Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development (CSEND)
CP 1498, Mont Blanc, 1211 Geneva 1, Switzerland
Tel+41 22-9061720
Fax +41 22 738 1737
E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 Press release by:

Roger Frost
Tafod Communications
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