SINGLE COUNTRY PROFILE
Tuesday, 18 August 2020
The 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) sets out the guidelines for the Federal Council’s (government) sustainability policy and establishes sustainable development as an important requirement for all federal policy areas. The Strategy has a timeframe of ten years. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides the reference framework.
The strategy is first and foremost an instrument to coordinate between policy areas, and works, in particular, to make sustainable development a core component of the numerous federal sectoral activities. As a transversal strategy, it formulates guidelines for federal policy and sets goals for the period up to 2030, as well as directions for domestic and foreign policy strategic with corresponding political priorities.
The 2030 SDS sets out priorities in policy areas where there is a particular need for action and coordination in order to implement the 2030 Agenda at the federal level. The Federal Council has thus defined three priority themes: sustainable consumption and production; climate, energy and biodiversity; and equal opportunities and social cohesion.
The strategy also sets out how civil society, the private sector, the financial markets and the education, research and innovation sectors can act as drivers of sustainable development and describes the framework required for this to happen. Finally, it also defines how the Federal Administration can contribute by setting an example.
The Federal Council has also adopted the 2021‒2023 Action Plan on the 2030 SDS. This complements the Confederation's existing instruments with specific measures in areas where there are still gaps or where there is a need for greater cross-sectoral cooperation.
The 2030 SDS now also exists in English: Sustainable Development Strategy (admin.ch).
SDS covers all three dimensions of SD.
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).
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.
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.
All ministries are involved in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Daniel Dubas, Delegate of the Federal Council for the 2030 Agenda.
2030 Sustainable Development Strategy and 2021–2023 Action Plan (Not yet translated into English)
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:
- Sustainable Development Forum: German | French | Italian
- Sustainable development promotion program: German | French | Italian
- Cercle Indicateurs: German | French | Italian
The new Swiss online platform "Toolbox Agenda 2030 for Cantons and Municipalities" (available in German, French, and Italian) of the Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE supports cantons and municipalities in the implementation of the Agenda 2030. Based on a collection of measures and examples, it shows how various cantons and municipalities are already implementing the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. As a source of information and inspiration, the toolbox aims to motivate users to also contribute to a more sustainable Switzerland. The Toolbox was developed in collaboration with experts from cantons and municipalities, the Network of Cantonal Sustainability Offices (NKNF), the Swiss Association of Municipalities (SGV) and the Swiss Association of Cities (SSV) as well as other stakeholders.
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.
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.
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.
50 of the 104 indicators of the MONET 2030 indicator system on sustainable development have been updated to the latest data status.
Two new indicators complement the MONET 2030 indicator system:
- Hazardous chemicals (Target 12.4)
- Greenhouse gas footprint of food (target 12.2b)
Several indicators updated with 2020 data document the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These include, for example, years of potential life lost (SDG 3), modal split of passenger transport (SDG 11) and greenhouse gas emissions (SDG 13). Other indicators for which more recent data are available returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021. This applies in particular to road traffic accidents (SDG 3), final energy consumption per capita (SDG 7) and congestion on Swiss motorway network (SDG 9).
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.
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
The indicator system “Cercle Indicateurs” has a new structure:
Ten topics allow easy access to the indicators. The topics reflect the interpretation of sustainable development at the level of cities and cantons. In addition, it is possible to filter by the three dimensions of sustainable development and the 17 SDGs of the 2030 Agenda.
Each indicator includes two graphs on development over time and comparison with other cities or cantons, and presents the most important information for understanding and interpreting the indicator.
This new presentation is the result of a revision of the Cercle Indicateurs indicator system carried out by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) and the 29 partner cities and 19 partner cantons.
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.
Background information on assessing cantonal and municipal projects.