Opening of the conference

Wednesday, 14. October 2015 | 10:15 Uhr


Hans Groth


President of the Foundation


The financial crisis and its consequences, the growing discourse on the sustainability of capitalism and the market economy, as well as the challenge to secure welfare and prosperity also for aging and shrinking societies force us to question the future viability of our economic systems. And that is exactly what we are going to do together.


Future and Sustainability

The future is the time that follows the present. So it’s about tomorrow, the day after, and the day after that. Statements about the future are always based on the current position – we should never forget that! But do we really always know if this position is the right one? From this current position, three approaches for the future appear possible:

  • Pragmatic perspectives in the future;
  • Empirical extrapolations into the future;
  • Imaginations, i.e. utopian designs of future realities.


Whichever approach we choose:

  •  The future starts with the viewpoint!
  • The future is only viable for the future if it is sustainable throughout its entire projection cycle!


But what exactly does «sustainable» mean? I would like to define this for you once more, as an important basis for this conference. Ultimately, this term was coined by former Norwegian Prime Minister Brundtland. In 1987, she chaired a report on the sustainable development of our world for the United Nations. And in this report, it says: Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Economic Systems

  • Economic systems comprise the economic elements and their actors – primarily private and public households as well as enterprises, and their control over the means for production and consumption.
  • Add to that economic relation, i.e. production, distribution, and consumption processes in and among the business entities.
  • After all, the economic order resulting from the interaction of the actor’s forms part of an economic system.
  • Economic systems are strongly influenced by interdependencies with other social subsystems – especially by political, social, and legal, but also ecological systems.
  • It is precisely these correlations that we want to discuss with you in Engelberg this year with a view to their future viability.


It follows that economic systems are far more than systems for supplying people with goods and services. They penetrate people’s lives and shape their future prospects – in both their private and professional lives. Future, sustainable economic systems are characterized by the fact that they can handle the major global challenges of the future:

  • Climate change
  • The finite nature of resources
  • Demographic change
  • Increasing global inequality
  • The economic systems of the future must therefore be inclusive, not exclusive. They must not play off the interests of the people living today against those of future generations.
  • A sustainable future economic system must not least also meet the changing needs of people as a result of demographic change.


About the role played by youth

It seems unnecessary to emphasize the fact that today’s youth will be the ones to ultimately determine what our future economic life will look like or how it will be designed. That is why it is important to involve this generation now and to give it an audible voice now. Some of the 30 young scientists – 12 students, to be precise – specifically prepared for this conference during our traditional Summer School, lead by Professor David Stadelmann, at SIGA’s training center in Ruswil in early July. I am particularly eager to hear your reflections on Thursday morning.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you an exciting stay in Engelberg until Friday afternoon, with many unexpected suggestions and many new, but also old, contacts.

I declare our 14th Dialogue on Science open!


Hans Groth

Hans Groth holds the office of President of the Foundation Board of Academia Engelberg.

Dr. med. Hans Groth, MBA is Senior Director of Healthcare Policy & Market Access for the Oncology Business Unit from Pfizer Europe and Member of the Executive Board for Pfizer Switzerland. His responsibilities include governmental affairs, healthcare policy, pricing & reimbursement across Europe and tailored communication strategies to gain broad societal acceptance of innovative medicines and modern personalized oncology treatment regimen in particular. Hans Groth has been working with Pfizer for twenty-three years. He has comprehensive experience in over 30 healthcare markets including Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the USA and Canada.

His previous responsibilities have included medical affairs, clinical research, regulatory, marketing & sales as well as international public affairs including negotiating pricing and access conditions with government authorities as well as healthcare payers. In 2003, he was appointed “Pfizer Global Health Fellow” by UNAIDS to conduct case studies in Central Asia and Siberia in order to quantify the threat potential of HIV/AIDS/TB in that region. For his subsequent commitment towards supporting public health infrastructure projects in Southeast Siberia and Kirgizstan, he received in 2008 the “Pfizer Global Health Fellow Award”.

For the past ten years, Dr. Groth has been studying the interaction between global demographic change, economic development, wealth and societal stability (c.f. “Europe’s Demographic Challenge – Unlocking the Value of Health” Hans Groth & Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, 2007). The focus of his research has built upon theories of economic development & productivity and employing the value of health as a sustainable tool to unlock new ways to tackle the imminent challenges of demographic change. Since 2009, Dr. Groth has worked as a guest lecturer at the University of St. Gallen/Switzerland with the topic “Megatrend: Global Demographic Change”. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Demographic & Ageing Forum (WDA) at the University of St. Gallen and elected member of the “Global Agenda Council on Global Population Growth” for the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Dr. Groth is married with two adult children. He has dual citizenship of Switzerland and Germany.

Donators and Partners

The ETH Board is responsible for the strategic leadership of the ETH domain and assumes the supervision of its institutions. Its close relationship with the ETH Council has contributed to the successful continuation of Academia Engelberg Foundation since 2000.

The Foundation promotes research into the connecting human fundamentals of science. Academia Engelberg Foundation and the Foundation for Basic Research in Human Sciences have entered into a cooperation agreement for the period 2011 to 2015.

Helvetia is a quality-oriented comprehensive insurance company with over 150 years of experience. Academia Engelberg Foundation is convinced it will be able to use important synergies from the partnership starting in 2015.

DIE HIRSCHMANN STIFTUNG ist eine gemeinnützige schweizerische Stiftung. 1985 wurde sie vom Unternehmer und Aviatik-Pionier Carl W. Hirschmann gegründet.

A partnership with the University of Lucerne has existed since summer 2013. Since 2016 we have also a parthership with the Faculty of Economics and Management of the University of Lucerne. Through these partnerships, synergies are used and joint projects are tested and realized. The University of Lucerne currently consists of three faculties: the faculties for Theology, Culture and Social Sciences, and Law.

The focus of the Foundation is the promotion of organizations in the areas of culture and arts, architecture, design, music, sports, education, and science. It has been a partner of Academia Engelberg Foundation since 2014.


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