8 June 2012 – On 8 June 2012, the Federal Council appointed the Swiss delegation to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development from 20 to 22 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The federal government will be represented by President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications. The conference should renew the commitment to sustainable development and provide a forum for discussing the green economy at the highest political level.
The central themes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro from 20 to 22 June 2012 are the contribution of a green economy to sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the improvement of institutions that deal with sustainable development at the international level. Furthermore, the UN would like to renew and strengthen political engagements for sustainable development. Prior to the actual conference, which will be attended by approximately 130 heads of state and government, the last round of preliminary negotiations is being held between negotiators from 13 to 15 June in Rio. Between the preliminary negotiations and the conference, host nation Brazil is organising discussions with representatives from civil society. More than 50,000 participants are expected in Rio.
Sustainable development – i.e. a type of development that ensures good social, economic and environmental conditions for future generations – is highly valued by Switzerland and one of its top constitutional objectives. The previous UN conferences on sustainability, the environment and development in 1972 (Stockholm), 1992 (Rio), and 2002 (Johannesburg) have had a major influence on sustainable development and environmental policy. The Federal Council expects this year’s Rio Conference to give particular impetus to the creation of a green economy and the reform of UN sustainability and environmental institutions (see fact sheet). Switzerland’s main goals are:
Promote a green economy as part of sustainable development and poverty eradication
The green economy has the potential to steer today’s economic development toward a more sustainable solution. Switzerland views the green economy as a tool that can bring about sustainable development. Switzerland expects the Rio+20 Conference to create consensus on three aspects: 1) the general commitment to a green economy as part of sustainable development; 2) concrete policies and measures; and 3) a framework for action, such as national action plans that are aligned with national strategies on sustainable development and poverty eradication. Together, these aspects should provide an international green roadmap.
Strengthen international environmental governance
Switzerland expects the Rio+20 Conference to create consensus on a range of concrete reforms in the UN system for environmental issues. This will make it possible for the UN to more effectively carry out its core tasks, such as ensuring coordination of and cooperation between conventions and institutions in the UN system, providing reliable scientific results in environmental issues, developing internationally binding policies, and supporting the implementation of these policies with adequate funding.
Create a sustainable development council
Switzerland expects the Rio+20 Conference to create consensus on an ambitious and effective reform package for UN sustainable development institutions. Although clear progress has been made in the last 20 years, significant efforts still need to be made so that global development is actually sustainable and international governance of sustainable development can be improved. Switzerland suggests that the international framework for sustainable development be strengthened by creating a sustainable development council.
Pursue Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Switzerland welcomes the efforts that are being made to devise a range of global sustainable development goals. These types of goals would highlight the commitment of the international community and guide the community of states in implementing sustainable development. The goals would be useful in developing more effective activities by UN bodies and other key players and in fostering a coordinated approach to common concerns. In addition, Sustainable Development Goals would define a framework for international cooperation and progress evaluation.
Switzerland’s representatives in Rio
The Federal Council appointed Switzerland’s representatives for Rio at a meeting on 8 June 2012. President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf will attend the opening ceremony of the Rio Conference on 20 June 2012, give a speech at the plenary meeting and take part in presidential-level negotiations until 21 June. Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard will participate in the negotiations on 21 and 22 June. Bruno Oberle, Director of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), will also negotiate at the ministerial level and was appointed State Secretary by the Federal Council for the duration of the conference.
The ministerial delegation appointed by the Federal Council includes ten people who will support the members of government and the head of the FOEN. The negotiating delegation led by Ambassador Franz Perrez, head of the International Affairs Division of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), also includes ten people from the federal administration, seven people from civil society organisations (environmental and development organisations, trade associations, scientists, youth) cantonal and city representatives and a member of the Federal Assembly. For logistical purposes, the delegation will be assisted by employees of the Swiss representatives in Brazil. Another 11 representatives from the federal administration (including 7 from the SDC, 2 from the FOEN, 1 from PLANAT, and 1 from ARE) are travelling to Rio in order to participate in the events that were co-organised by Switzerland.