The City of Lausanne, Switzerland, is in competition to obtain the organization of the 11th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ) from 1 to 5 July 2019, at the Swiss Tech Convention Center, on the EPFL/UNIL campus. This gathering attracts every two years more than a thousand journalists and scientific writers representing over 60 nationalities. The Swiss Association of Science Journalism, which made the original proposal to organize the 2019 conference, was quickly joined by its sister organizations in France and Italy, with the backing of the Lausanne Montreux Congress. The Lausanne candidature has already obtained nearly 50 partners and sponsors, including some who are active worldwide. The choice of the next host city will be made on October 28th during the next WCSJ, which will be held in San Francisco, USA.
In order to attract this conference, Lausanne has numerous positive cards to play. Thanks to the intense work of the initiators and the organizers Lausanne’s candidature has drawn widespread support from the academic, political and economic sectors of Switzerland. In addition, support has come from all over Europe, notably from the European Commission and institutions such as the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).
Academic, political, scientific and institutional support
The three originating associations, the Swiss Association of Science Journalism (SASJ), the French Association of Scientific Journalists for press information (AJSPI) and Science Writers in Italy (SWIM) were supported from the beginning by four major academic partners: The Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne EPFL, the CERN and the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva. They can also count on important political contacts at the levels of the city of Lausanne, the Canton of Vaud and the Confederation. Other private and public actors, such as the Bertarelli Foundation (principal sponsor) have joined in the event. Nearly half the budget of the congress is already ensured as of today.
If Lausanne obtains this conference, organized under the aegis of the World Federation of Scientific Journalists WFSJ, the activities will be broadcast thanks to partnerships with the RTS, Euronews and EBU who plan to establish together a “media center” at the conference site.
Ambitious program and partnership with the Balkans
The provisional program is as attractive as it is ambitious. In addition to the presentations of the prestigious speakers at the Swiss Tech Convention Center, situated in the heart of the EPFL/UNIL campus and capable of accommodating 25,000 persons, sessions in innovative formats are foreseen: creative workshops, mobile debates, tutorials or brainstorming sessions. Long-term projects and satellite events will complete the program. Of interest will be the establishment of a privileged partnership with the scientific journalist community in the Balkans. “We want a conference organized by and for the science journalists, in order to defend, present and promote independent scientific journalism of outstanding quality in the medias throughout the entire world”, sums up Olivier Dessibourg, President of the SASJ and initiator of the candidacy.
Many visits to scientific and touristic sites are foreseen, in Lausanne (lunches in the campus laboratories), all over Switzerland and in the bordering countries. The participants will be able to visit, amongst other institutions, the CERN at Geneva, IBM Research at Zurich, the new Agora cancer center at Lausanne, the Campus Biotech in Geneva, the European Astronauts Center at Cologne, the Ecological Hut of Mont Rose at Zermatt or if they wish, the Sanofi Pasteur laboratories at Lyon – the largest center in the world for research, development, and production of vaccines. Amongst the more touristic attractions are to be found the Lavaux vinyards, Aquatis (the largest soft water aquarium in Europe), Glacier 3000 or the Grande-Dixence dam.
High stakes in case of victory
In a Switzerland which draws its economic success largely from science and innovation and which has been at the top of the “Global innovation index” for several years, Lausanne and the entirety of the Lemanic arc profit from a unique environment, with high quality schools of higher education, well known multinationals as well as numerous start-up enterprises active principally in the area of life sciences. The stakes are high in case of victory. The potential worldwide visibility of Lausanne and its region through the WCSJ and its participants implies important fallout for the economic and touristic activities. In addition, the exceptional quality of local and swiss-wide research, as well as its innovation will be reinforced.
For five years the Lausanne Office of Congresses – today the Lausanne Montreux Congress (LMC) – has collaborated in this unique tri-national candidature. The three journalistic associations, supported by Presence Swiss and encouraged by Switzerland Tourism, will go to San Francisco (USA) the latter part of October to defend this tri-national candidature. The final decision should be taken the 28th of October. In 2015, the cities of Montreal, Madrid and Copenhagen also launched their work for a candidacy.
Swiss-french-italian bid for the WCSJ2019: www.wcsj2019.eu
Swiss Association of Science Journalism: www.science-journalism.ch
Association française des journalistes scientifiques de la presse d’information: www.ajspi.fr
Science writers in Italy: www.sciencewriters.it