Future Day 2019 – Making a difference for future generations

Stefan Räbsamen Chairman, PwC Switzerland 15 Nov 2019

Actions speak louder than words. Switzerland's National Future Day fosters children’s inspiration by them watching their parents at work. This year’s Future Day at PwC’s Experience Center was landmark: it saw children develop solutions to promote a little-known reforestation technology to actively support PwC’s commitment to corporate responsibility.
Children use PwC's problem-solving approach to tackle deforestation

At this year’s Future Day at PwC’s Experience Center children and their parents worked together to bring PwC's purpose - to build trust in society and solve important problems - to life. We focused on corporate responsibility and on how to play a part in preserving this planet for future generations. On Thursday, about 50 PwC children between the ages of 10 and 14 and their parents gathered at the Experience Center in Zurich to tackle an important problem related to climate change by means of the practical example of deforestation. The contextual framework was to use PwC’s agile and design thinking approaches (BXT) and to address a real client situation.

Climate change and its devastating consequences are some of the most challenging issues in this world. The risks related to climate change must be addressed to ensure global food security. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2019 identifies these risks as the most pressing global danger over the course of the next ten years. Due to their geographical position, the world’s poorest countries will be affected most by climate change and this further aggravates the situation. Without genuine persistent global action, average temperatures are predicted to rise by more than two degrees Celsius, a threshold at which scientists believe potentially irreversible environmental changes will occur. The current rates of decarbonisation are nowhere near sufficient to achieve this goal – and one main source of decarbonisation, rain forests, continue to be destroyed at alarming speed.

What does the future have in store for us? How can we help to fight poverty? What can PwC as a company and each one of us do? These questions were at the heart of our Future Day. They are topics that concern our children, many of who are either already interested in climate change or sympathise with the recent worldwide youth protest for climate change. However, although awareness for the future of the planet can be raised by taking protests to the streets, tangible actions are needed to achieve real change. What these children made happen on our PwC Future Day is real change.

Observe your parents at work and do their job

As our Future Day use case we took a worldwide active NGO and PwC client at the same time. The NGO owns a very simple but effective technology to combat deforestation – when trees are felled, trunk and roots remain untouched. Cutting the trunk in a special way will encourage it to grow new shoots and regenerate. The children’s task was to find and develop solutions with respect to promoting the fact that albeit this easy technology exists, it is not being widely used by farmers in developing countries. These children did not just observe their parents at work, they actually did their job.

The day at PwC’s inspiring Experience Center began with a group exercise, where both children and parents experienced how it was to work together and create new ideas and concepts. The motto of the day was fun, interaction, and the affirmation that everybody’s ideas and contributions matter. The children also learnt how to build on the ideas of others to create an even better outcome.

Two of the children interviewed the NGO’s CEO to understand the problem the NGO client was facing relating to the reforestation technique and how PwC could help. Once the problem statement was clear, children went to work in mixed groups with their parents to come up with the big ideas which they presented back to the NGO client as potential solutions in the form of a short video. The groups were led by senior PwC facilitators and coaches where the children used BXT approaches and agile ideation and iteration techniques to come up with bold ideas, present these creatively - essentially work in the same ways their PwC parents do with clients.

The fact that the children contributed towards solving a problem that «really matters» – in this case to regrow forests without expensive government or environmental organisation programmes but with the help of a simple technique – proved to be a very positive experience for all the children who took part in PwC’s Future Day; an experience that has given them a much better understanding of what we do and how we work at PwC. The ideas that have resulted from our Future Day will be used in the NGO’s communication campaign. And for PwC, the opportunity to apply BXT to a group of children – something that has never been done before – was incredibly exciting.

Corporate responsibility is a core value of PwC

Corporate responsibility is in our DNA and it is our licence to operate. It aims to create a positive impact on society and the environment and increase the benefit for everyone. Corporate responsibility is a catalyst to becoming a purpose-led and value-driven organisation. Alongside our stakeholders we strive to generate the most sustainable business values and make a difference for future generations.

Future Day 2019 clearly revealed that you can make a change by using what you already have. There is no need for substantial amounts of funding and complex strategies – simple technologies combined with bold ideas can be highly effective.


Contact us

Stefan Räbsamen

Stefan Räbsamen

Chairman, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 26 22

Kirsten Barker

Kirsten Barker

Senior Coach, Client Development, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 46 37

Bettina Schmid

Bettina Schmid

Corporate Responsibility, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 1909