Topics and Conventions

International environmental policy


Despite the many conventions and institutions in the area of the environment, policymakers still lack the institutional framework required to be able to guarantee global environmental protection. For this reason, the FOEN advocates the strengthening of international environmental governance in order to achieve a comprehensive, cohesive, effective and efficient international environmental regime.

Environmental financing

One of the goals that the international community set itself in the various multilateral environmental agreements is to contribute to the resolution of global environmental problems. However, developing countries often lack the resources necessary to do this. Switzerland supports the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements and measures in favour of the global environment through its environmental financing and contributions to environmental funds.


The international community renewed its commitment to sustainable development at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012. The green economy was added to the global political agenda for the first time with the Rio+20 resolution. Measures for the consolidation of institutional framework conditions were also adopted. Furthermore, it was decided at this Conference that Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) should be developed.

Development cooperation

Environmental protection and development goals should be integrated in cooperation on development. To this end, the FOEN collaborates closely with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Environment for Europe

The "Environment for Europe" process aims to improve environmental quality in the pan-European region and provides a framework for cooperation on environmental matters with Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Participating in this process are 56 member states within the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), international organisations, funding institutions and NGOs.


International trade and the environment are physically, legally and institutionally interdependent upon one another. Natural resources provide the inputs and the energy required for economic output, whose waste is released back into the environment. The environmental impact of not only increased trade in goods and services, but also waste, around the world may require environmental protection measures that, in turn, have an impact on trade. Trade and the environment are regulated by two separate legal systems that interact with one another (World Trade Organization and free trade agreements, on the one hand, multilateral environmental agreements and national environmental regulations, on the other).

International policy in the following areas:

Air: International Air Pollution Control

Since air pollutants do not recognise national borders, many air quality problems cannot be resolved by one country on its own. It is only possible to reduce air pollution if neighbouring countries also take appropriate measures. In view of this, Switzerland is actively involved in a variety of international organisations that focus on limiting air pollution in Europe.

Biodiversity: International Affairs

Numerous global and regional agreements have been concluded to arrest the decline and ensure the sustainable use of global biodiversity and ecosystems. In the current decade, the efforts made by all of these agreements target the implementation of the global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the attainment of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets by 2020.

Chemicals: International Affairs

Switzerland supports the development of a comprehensive, coherent, effective and efficient international regime for chemicals, as well as improved co-operation with the private sector.

Climate: International Affairs

Greenhouse gas emissions do not respect national borders. Because climate change has had serious repercussions for Switzerland with its mountain ecosystem, a globally coordinated course of action for this Alpine country is essential. Switzerland is strongly committed to climate protection at an international level.

International Economic Policies and the Environment

The FOEN participates in international initiatives for the promotion of the green economy and shares its experience with other national programmes.

Waste: International Affairs

Switzerland supports the development of a comprehensive, coherent, effective and efficient international regime for waste management, as well as improved co-operation with the private sector. Existing regulatory gaps should be closed.

Water: International Affairs

Given that one fifth of the world’s population lacks access to safe drinking water, the protection of drinking-water resources is a priority issue at global level. In view of its experience in the area of freshwater management, Switzerland is keen to contribute to the international efforts for the preservation of this essential resource.