Under Art. 49 para. 2 of the Federal Constitution, the Confederation must ensure that the cantons conduct their duties according to the law, and this includes ensuring that environmental legislation is applied equally throughout Switzerland.

The federal government has both the right and the duty to exercise this supervision. The responsibility falls in essence to the Federal Council, but the government may delegate supervisory powers to the departments or to their subordinate administrative offices and agencies.

Federal supervision involves a range of concrete measures for ensuring that federal environmental law is enforced correctly, equally and fully, in particular by the cantons, and which aim to achieve better coordination. The various means of supervision must be applied consistently, objectively, in compliance with the principle of subsidiarity and federal comity (respect for autonomy, no unnecessary intervention), while ensuring that the administrative cost is reasonable.

The right of appeal accorded to environmental organisations is a further instrument to ensure compliance with environmental legislation.

Further information

Last modification 30.03.2015

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