Saturday, 17 February to Tuesday, 20 February 2018 | Thun (Switzerland)


The Urban Challenge

Imagine a city of the future. Do you see clean streets, flying cars and robots doing all the work? No-one really knows what the future holds, but the reality now is that our urban spaces are overcrowded and polluted. According to the United Nations, more than seven billion people inhabit our planet. Almost half of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and by 2050 that proportion is expected to increase to 75%, an influx of 2.5 billion people!  All these people are seeking work, social opportunities and improved living standards. Accordingly, urban areas are expanding rapidly, especially in developing countries, and that expansion is frequently unplanned.

The pollution that cities produce, the energy they use, and the products they consume have dramatic consequences for the environment. It is clear that the challenges that cities and their inhabitants are already facing today are increasing in urgency as more and more people move to urban areas. Transforming our world for the better means transforming our towns and cities.

So let us look to the future. The time is ripe to start designing smarter urban environments. Cities of the future need to be conceived around people rather than around cars and roads. They need to be made sustainable with regards to energy consumption and C02 emissions. Achieving these goals will depend, in large part, on whether we can build inclusive societies that promote participation by all to create living spaces that are safe, resilient and sustainable. Technologies are developing rapidly, but are we, as societies having the debates that are necessary? Are we asking the right questions and giving our visions the right policy frameworks?

At ISTF we bring together top-talented students from across Europe and beyond to experience a unique journey exploring the future of urban life. By creating a space for interaction and debate we grapple with the question of how the transition to sustainable urban development can be made in the era of exponential population growth. On these grounds, the ISTF places students amongst decision-makers and lateral-thinkers, experts and personalities from research, management and the corporate world to debate the type of space we wish to create for the urban society of the future.

Cities are remarkable engines of growth, centres of diversity and hubs of creativity. Let us use their potential to transform our world for the better! We look forward to welcoming you as a participant of the Swiss Talent Forum 2018.


More infos


About the International Swiss Talent Forum

The International Swiss Talent Forum (ISTF) is a politically independent think-tank for young adults (18 to 22 years) who are interested in and committed to addressing the universal and long-term challenges of our time. It was launched by the foundation Swiss Youth in Science in 2009 and brings talented young people to Switzerland from all over the world. Through discussion and debate the ISTF combines the motivation of youth with the wisdom of experienced leaders from business, science, society and politics to develop new solutions to current global issues.


  • 4 exciting days
  • 70 motivated young people
  • 1000 new ideas
  • Countless new insights