The new environmental reports: More Than Just Numbers

In 2015, the Swiss Federal Council will be the publisher of the environmental report for the first time as a result of the amendments to the Environmental Protection Act it adopted in June 2014 in connection with its accession to the Aarhus Convention. In doing so, the executive branch will provide the public with comprehensive and broadly supported information about the state of the environment.

Text: Lucienne Rey

Anyone who wants to know how the key environmental statistics have changed in the last few decades would probably be better off delving into one of the environmental reports that have been published regularly since 1990. These reports have information on the percentage of organically farmed agricultural areas, changes in biodiversity, material and energy consumption by the Swiss population and general figures on the state of the soil, air and water. The indicators with traffic light pictograms provide an image of whether the changes are going in the right direction, i.e. green light, or a negative trend has continued despite efforts, i.e. red light.

Cover Environmental report 2015

A new report by the Federal Council

When its parliament ratified the Aarhus Convention in 2013, Switzerland agreed to submit a report on the state of the environment every four years. Since 2007, the FOEN has prepared an environmental report every two years for Switzerland, partially in cooperation with the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (BFS). The Federal Council is taking on this task for the first time with the Swiss environmental report in 2015. And because the executive branch is now publishing the report, an extensive consultation is required. Therefore, an official consultation was conducted with all of the federal offices involved. “This created new challenges for the entire team of authors”, explains Brigitte Reutter, Deputy Head of the FOEN’s Environmental Monitoring Section. “Nearly 100 people worked on the report, which had to be coordinated between them.”

The report makes a point of using reader-friendly language because it is ultimately intended for a wider public. “Its tone had to be adapted”, confirms Brigitte Reutter. Illustrations were also given a more prominent place than previously. Photos are now featured along with the column and curve diagrams to artfully represent the entire range of environmental issues and lend detailed precision to the published images.

Environmental Report EEA 2015
Environmental Report EEA 2015

Incorporated into international reporting

In the future, the Swiss environmental report will not be published every two years, but rather every four years. “We noticed that not much changes in two years”, explains Brigitte Reutter. The four-year cycle also meets the requirements of the Aarhus Convention. The European Environment Agency (EEA) publishes an environmental report every five years and puts the Swiss and other data in a European context. Two reports will actually be published in 2015: Switzerland’s environmental report in January and the European environmental report in April. They will provide an overview in differing scales of conclusions on the wide range of consequences that our lifestyle and economic system have on the environment.

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Last modification 11.02.2015

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