National legislation and international framework conditions

Four versions of the Swiss Federal Constitution in all four national languages on a wooden surface.
The principle of sustainability is enshrined in the Swiss Federal Constitution. © Keystone

Environmental protection and the principle of sustainable development are firmly enshrined in the Swiss Federal Constitution. Also at international level, the concept of sustainability has been recognised for decades. The issue has become increasingly important over recent years. This eventually led to the adoption of the international 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015.

The Swiss Federal Constitution contains several references to sustainable development and environmental protection. Article 2 of the document says that Switzerland must promote sustainable development. The Confederation and the cantons are also required to achieve a balanced relationship between nature and its capacity to renew itself and the demands placed on it by the population over the long term and to avoid damage to the natural environment. 

Real estate portfolio 

The Confederation also aims to achieve sustainability in relation to buildings. The Federal Council underlines the importance of sustainable construction in the Sustainable Development Strategy 2016–2019. The Confederation must meet sustainable development criteria in the management of its real estate portfolio and adopt a long-term approach when purchasing materials. A strategic objective defined by the ‘Ordinance on Federal Real Estate Management and Logistics’ is the ‘establishment and compliance with sustainable standards on planning, construction, furnishings, procurement, operation and restoration; the federal administration implements Resource and Environmental Management to support this objective’. These principles also apply to buildings abroad and form the basis for ‘sustainable embassies’. 

Adoption of the 2030 Agenda 

The importance of the issue of sustainability increased significantly at international level with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This is the cornerstone of global sustainable development and takes account of the three dimensions of environment, economy and society in its 17 goals and 169 targets. The Paris Agreement was also adopted in 2015. This aims to restrict global warming to below 2°C, and if possible to 1.5°C, compared with pre-industrial levels. 

Switzerland has made a major contribution and is firmly committed to both processes. Now all actors are equally obliged to implement specific measures. The ‘sustainable embassies’ are making a significant contribution to achieving international sustainability and climate goals. Swiss embassies are showcasing Switzerland’s commitment abroad and are leading by example.