Christoph von Toggenburg

“If one attempts to make the world a better place one must begin with very small things. We must learn to understand that actions, no matter how small they are, can lead to great changes.”
February 2002, Desert Lut, South Iran


In our daily lives we are often overwhelmed with the problems that are brought to our attention. Bad news prevails which often leads to people feeling immobilised. Christoph found that the best way to tackle problems is by looking at their source and realising that no obstacle is too high to overcome.

Driven since childhood by the desire to improve lives of people in need, Christoph combines his passion for sports, communication and the use of technology to give people a voice. Since more than a decade he raises awareness through his humanitarian expeditions to the plight of those in need and raises funds for projects offering help. Every new initiative (re-)confirms to him how much power one individual can develop and the impact one can have if power is used positively. It does not help to feel sorry for someone in need or to look away but it is important to translate such feelings into actions and to make use of what we all have: Energy.

Christoph will tell us why this is relevant for everyone and why everything comes back to energies and actions. His message is not about heroism or extreme situations but about human strength, successes, failures, encounters and empathy.


Christoph von Toggenburg is a humanitarian globetrotter who has been active in more than 15 countries over the last decade. He started his career as a painter and photographer in London, Brussels and Paris, but gradually moved his activities towards humanitarian emergencies. From 2005 to 2010 he was delegate of the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and was posted in conflict zones around the world such as: Nepal, the Central African Republic, the occupied Palestinian territory / Israel and Colombia. Since the beginning of 2012 he works for the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA).

In 2003 he created the Colour the World Foundation, which supports various projects for people affected by mental illness and leprosy. Amongst others the foundation financed a hospital for leprosy patients, a home for disabled children, surgery rooms, programs for women affected by mental illness, etc.

In order to raise funds and people’s awareness on humanitarian issues he initiated three major campaigns. In 1998 he initiated the Run for Help campaign and ran solo 270km across the Alps from Switzerland to Italy on his own, raising funds for homeless children in Romania. In 2001 he started Bike for Help, a humanitarian expedition that made him cycle nearly 10’000km from India to Switzerland for people affected by leprosy. In 2010 he launched the project Alegría for women affected by mental illness. He cycled 3200km across the Nepalese and Indian Himalaya along the highest roads in the world.

Christoph’s humanitarian projects were published world-wide in hundreds of articles and the visual media. In 2004, the TV channel 3SAT made a documentary about Christoph’s humanitarian work. His documentaries Bike for Help and Alegría were widely broadcasted and shown at the International Adventure Film Festival in Graz in 2003 and 2012. In 2003 his Book “Bike for Help – A humanitarian Adventure” was published.

Christoph has won several awards for his art, photography and humanitarian activities. Among them, he was awarded Architect of the Future by the Waldzell Institute in 2006 and was decorated with the Commanders Cross by the Order of the Maltese Knights in 2003 for his outstanding humanitarian efforts.

He holds an M.A. in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University, Bologna (Italy), an M.A. in Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Art, London (UK) and a B.A. in Communications and Fine Arts from Guildhall University, London (UK).

His native language is German and he is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Italian. Christoph is married, lives and works in the Middle East.


His favourite TED Talk