SINGLE COUNTRY PROFILE

Basic Information
Year of approval of the SD strategy and updates

The Swiss Sustainable Development Strategy 2016-2019 (SDS) sets out the Federal Council's policy priorities for sustainable development in the medium- to long-term. It also lists the actions that the Confederation take to implement this Strategy during the legislative period. In addition, the Strategy indicates the contribution that Switzerland makes to achieving the United Nations' global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda). The aim in the future is to align the Strategy as comprehensively as possible with the 2030 Agenda to ensure that Switzerland plays a full part in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030.

The Swiss SDS 2016-2019 covers all 17 SDGs as part of 9 priority action areas. The SDS 2030 is currently being developed. It will be valid until 2030 and consistent with the SDGs. The new SDS 2030 will set priorities and focus on three key areas: (1) Sustainable consumption and production, (2) Climate, Energy and Biodiversity (3) Equal Opportunities.

Since 2009, the federal SDS is part of the Government’s Legislative Programme. The two processes of the legislative planning and the SDS are strongly linked. This results in various improvements:

  • more efficient coordination;
  • more solid institutional anchoring of the SDS;
  • broader acceptance of the SDS; and
  • more effective integration in government policy.
Type of SD strategy

SDS covers all three dimensions of SD.

Lead ministry/institution in the SD strategy process
Link to the SD strategy document
Further information about the SD strategy process

General information about SD in Switzerland: Sustainable development in Switzerland – A guide

Switzerland has commissioned an external evaluation of its SD strategy in 2019. The results of the evaluation have been published. (click here for the evaluation report in German with summaries in English, French and Italian).

Agenda 2030 Implementation

Following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the Federal Council commissioned a comprehensive review of the status of implementation in Switzerland, covering all policy sectors of the Federal Government. The baseline assessment covered all 169 SDG targets and included both Switzerland’s domestic and foreign policy contributions. The results indicate that the 2030 Agenda action areas are well embedded in federal policies. At the same time, the survey also identified challenges for progressively pursuing the Goals. This report forms the basis for Switzerland’s 2018 Voluntary National Review (VNR). Both documents serve as a status report by the Swiss Confederation and provide a baseline to enable a targeted response to the challenges facing the country.

In December 2018, The Federal Council reinforced the Agenda's implementation with a new organizational structure within the federal government. The creation of an interdepartmental '2030 Agenda Steering Committee', and the appointment of two Delegates of the Federal Council for the 2030 Agenda are core elements of this. The new structure will fully anchor the 2030 Agenda within the federal administration, and the Agenda will continue to be implemented as part of the sectoral policies of the individual federal agencies and departments.

Leading Ministry and respective unit

The Federal Council has supreme political responsibility for Switzerland's sustainability policy. It has given the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) the task of coordinating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy (controlling implementation, as well as performing monitoring and evaluation tasks) at federal level, as well as in collaboration with the cantons, communes, and other stakeholders.

Ministry: Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications DETEC and Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA.

Unit: Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE; Directorate of Political Affairs.

Other ministries involved

All ministries are involved in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Main contact point for the implementation process

Daniel Dubas, Delegate of the Federal Council for the 2030 Agenda.

Vertical Integration

In Switzerland, vertical integration mechanisms are relatively strong. Many cantons and communes have defined their own strategies for sustainable development.

Linkages between the federal, regional (cantons) and local levels of governance are managed within the framework of the ‘Sustainable Development Forum’. The Forum ensures that the different levels of state authority remain in contact and exchange information. In addition, the federal government’s programme promoting sustainable development also provides targeted support to initiatives that help strengthen sustainable development. A special focus is placed on strengthening cooperation with the cantonal sustainability offices and officers, who also serve as the first point of contact for the municipalities. The Forum is convened once a year, and keeps practitioners from all levels of government abreast of the current developments within and outside of Switzerland.

In addition, the federal government engages in a dialogue with the umbrella organizations for Switzerland’s cities and communes.

The ‘Network of Cantonal Sustainability Departments’ (NCSD) was founded in June 2018. The main objectives of the NCSD are: 1) Support sustainable development with respect to the 2030 Agenda; 2) Strengthen the Swiss-wide intercantonal cooperation; 3) Support experience sharing; 4) Support the drafting of reports for the federal level; 5) Active and common perception of cantonal interests with respect to those at the federal level (technical-practical level); and 6) Practical support of the conferences of the cantonal governments and further cantonal conferences.

Further information on mechanisms of vertical integration can be obtained from the following websites:

Horizontal Integration

The horizontal integration within the federal administration is guaranteed through the interdepartmental '2030 Agenda Steering Committee', and the appointment of two Delegates are core elements of the new organizational structure.

The 2030 Agenda Steering Committee brings together top-management level representatives of the most relevant government offices. Its primary objective is to manage and coordinate efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda.

The remit of the 2030 Agenda Steering Committee includes the following: 1) monitoring the SDGs in Switzerland; 2) drawing up the voluntary national review for submission to the UN; 3) prioritizing the principal challenges and opportunities for Switzerland; 4) determining national targets; 5) defining new measures; and 6) cooperating with the cantons, communes and non-governmental stakeholders.

Switzerland promotes policy coherence through a number of different procedures that ensure legislation of high quality, achieve a balance between conflicting interests, foster synergies between policies in various sectors and reconcile national and global perspectives. This entails a consultation procedure involving all the main stakeholder groups and a further ‘technical’ consultation involving all the relevant federal offices, with the members of the Federal Council formulating their views as part of the political-level joint reporting procedure. Decisions taken by Parliament can be challenged directly by a popular referendum.

Review

National level:

In 2019, Switzerland commissioned an external evaluation of its SD strategy. The results of the evaluation were published in 2019 (in German with summaries in English, French and Italian).

Switzerland developed a method to assess political projects from a sustainable development perspective: Sustainability Assessment: Conceptual framework. In the course of this framework, sustainability assessment guidelines for federal agencies and other interested parties have been developed. These guidelines have been drawn up to help sustainability assessments to be carried out as efficiently as possible and in accordance with standard principles. They set out a procedure in nine steps and provide additional support in the form of a Sustainability Assessment Excel Tool that enables the relevance of an initiative to be reviewed from the sustainable development perspective and allows its impacts to be recorded in outline terms. The guidelines are available for download in English | German | French | Italian.

In addition to their coordinating activities and representative role, the Delegates submit an annual report to the Federal Council on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Indicators

National level:

To monitor progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national level requires an appropriate set of metrics. The MONET 2030 indicator system gives an overview of sustainable development in Switzerland, providing a picture of the progress made towards the 17 SDGs of the United Nations 2030 Agenda as well in relation to certain topics specific to Switzerland. Comprising over 100 indicators relating to the three environmental, social and economic dimensions, the system is structured around the 17 SDGs.

The indicator systems are designed to:

  • initiate debate between stakeholders in society about the goals of sustainable development;
  • measure the current level of sustainability, indicate trends over time and identify areas for action;
  • inform  the public and political decision-makers about the current state of sustainable development and thus enable potential problem areas to be identified at an early stage; and
  • enable comparisons (benchmarking) to motivate all actors to emulate good practice and step up their efforts to achieve the goals.

The list of updated MONET 2030 indicator set

Global dimension of Sustainable Development

In Switzerland, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) coordinates the exchange of data with the UN. The stats_agenda2030 network was set up to ensure an efficient flow of data between the federal government and the UN agencies, coordinate responsibilities in order to keep administrative burden to a minimum and encourage transparency. The network, which is attached to the Swiss organization of statistics providers, Fedestat, will remain active until at least 2030.

Switzerland has opted for a decentralized model, as many units of the federal government have maintained direct contacts with UN agencies for many years. Some 30 federal government units are involved in the production, delivery or validation of data for the IAEG-SDGs indicators alongside other Swiss actors.

The data is delivered to the UN custodian agency responsible for indicators in a particular sector. Each year, about 50 agencies participate in the collection and harmonization of the required national data, which are then transmitted to the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) for publication.

Local level:

Cantons and municipalities, with the support of the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE), have created, since 2003, ‘cercle indicateurs’ as a common platform for indicators and monitoring on the local level. German | French | Italian

Participation

The reports and strategies that the Federal Council produces as part of its work to implement the 2030 Agenda are subject to a broad-based consultation process. This is designed to ensure that the interests of stakeholders from outside the federal government are taken into account in Federal Council planning.

The Swiss federal government has set up an advisory group to ensure effective cooperation with non-state actors. The group comprising of associations, civil society and academia is working closely with the federal government on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Members are the central coordinating bodies of different sectors of society (academia, civil society, business, youth). They represent the interest of non-state actors vis-à-vis the federal government and play a role in the procedures and content of the Federal Council’s instruments for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda (SDS and country report to the UN).

Actors from civil society are given the chance to have a say by means of the “2030 Dialogue for Sustainable Development” platform. The ‘2030 Dialogue for Sustainable Development’ is the federal government's platform for strengthening cooperation between actors in the field of sustainable development and for implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Moreover, a public consultation will take place on the draft of the new SDS 2030.

Funding Programme for sustainable development:

In order support stakeholders at the national, cantonal, regional and communal level with projects that contribute to sustainable development projects, the federal government established a funding program. Since 2001, over 450 projects have been funded that have had a direct contribution to sustainable development.

Subnational Activities

Evaluation:

Background information on assessing cantonal and municipal projects.

Indicators:

Information on the SD indicators for cities and cantons can be found here: German | French | Italian.

Contact details:

The responsible persons for SD on the sub-national level.