Rio+20 Conference: Switzerland Forges Ahead with Green Economy and Sustainability

Bern, Press releases, 20.06.2013

At the United Nations Conference in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in June 2012, the biggest ever held, the participating states decided to put the green economy on the international agenda and to formulate goals for sustainable development. Just one year later, measures are already being implemented in Switzerland for the substantiation of these goals.

One year ago, the international community of states agreed in Rio de Janeiro that a green economy is one of the important tools for enabling people to develop sustainably in the context of poverty reduction. A document adopted at the Rio conference encourages countries to foster the green economy as part of their sustainability policies.

Inspired by the momentum generated in Rio, the federal authorities are preparing to make changes to the Environmental Protection Act that will promote the development of a green economy. The Federal Council is expected to submit a corresponding proposal for consultation before the summer break. Based on the Green Economy Action Plan, which was adopted on 8 March 2013, the Federal Council proposes that Switzerland's resource consumption be reduced to a naturally sustainable level. A ten-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns (10FYP) was also passed in Rio. Switzerland is one of the ten members of the board of the 10FYP, and hence plays an important role in the implementation of the programme.

To lend new impetus to sustainable development at national and local levels, the role of national implementation strategies and local actors was highlighted at the Rio+20 Conference. The Swiss Confederation regulates the implementation of sustainable development through the Sustainable Development Strategy 2012-2015. The cantons, cities and communes also see their commitment to sustainable development as having been confirmed by Rio+20 and are intensifying their efforts in the areas of public procurement, spatial development and sustainable building.

A process was also initiated in Rio for the development of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These goals shall incorporate all dimensions of sustainable development, allow each country to identify its action requirement and enable the quantification and comparison of progress in the area of sustainable development. Switzerland is advocating that the SDG process and the Millennium Development Goals adopted in New York in 2002 be amalgamated and that a single global system exists for the attainment of the goals associated with sustainable development after 2105.

The Federal Council has appointed Michael Gerber from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC as ambassador for the development of the SDGs. In this capacity, he leads the international negotiations on behalf of Switzerland, carries out consultations at national level and coordinates the internal federal steering body, which consists of around 15 federal agencies.

Finally, it was decided at the Rio+20 Conference to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development, which was established after the first Rio conference in 1992 but achieved little success, with a universal high political forum for sustainable development, and to strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). To this end, universal membership of UNEP was introduced. Hence, for the first time, all states could participate in the latest UNEP session in February 2013 in Nairobi.


The website

The federal authorities provided a website for the Rio+20 conference which was also available for use by civil society actors. The website presents the process involved in the preparation of the conference, the conference itself and the activities that have taken place in the aftermath of Rio+20. One year after the end of the conference, the website is no longer in operation. However, it is still accessible as a historical document and information source on Rio+20. Information about the processes initiated in Rio can mainly be found on the websites of the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC. The new federal platform relating to the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is: Information about the implementation of the goals at national level can be found on the website of the Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE.

Further information:

Swiss Platform for Rio+20
FOEN: Rio+20
ARE: Sustainable development
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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