The promotion of sustainable development in Switzerland is enshrined as a fundamental principle in both the Preamble and Article of Purpose (Article 2) of the Federal Constitution. A specific article on sustainable development (Article 73) states that the Confederation and cantons shall contribute to sustainability.
The Federal Council understands sustainable development as a “regulative idea” or overarching principle. It should not be understood as a selective sectoral policy task but as a requirement that must ultimately be adopted by all policy fields. The broad thematic range of the Federal Council’s Sustainable Development Strategy, which covers most areas of state action, reflects this.
Sustainable development in Switzerland is implemented through the Federal Council’s “Sustainable Development Strategy”. The cantons and communes support this strategy. The “Forum for Sustainable Development” (Forum Nachhaltige Entwicklung) was established as a national platform in 2011. The Confederation also has a system of national indicators for monitoring sustainable development known as MONET.
In recent years, various cantons, cities and federal offices have each developed a system of core indicators for cantons and cities – called the ‘Cercle Indicateurs’. The central task of the core indicators is to assess the current state and changes over time of sustainable development from a strategic policy perspective.
At the global level sustainable development was first declared as an international principle at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The aim is to safeguard our planet’s natural resources and their use for future generations.
The main agreements adopted at the UN Conference are the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Convention on Biological Diversity is, as the title suggests, aimed at protecting biological diversity. The world’s biological diversity should be maintained and its basic elements used in a fair and balanced manner. This means that natural resources should be used in such a way that biological diversity is not jeopardised in the long term. The Framework Convention on Climate Change aims to stabilise the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level which prevents dangerous interference with the climate system. The Conference of the Parties, which meets annually, is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Convention.
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