International economic policies and the environment

Some three quarters of environmental impacts that are caused by final demand in Switzerland occur abroad due to imported goods and commodities. Therefore, it is important to consider our impact on the environment beyond our borders. The FOEN participates in international initiatives for the promotion of a green and resource-conserving economy and shares its experience with other national programmes. These activities reflect not only Switzerland's ecological responsibility, but also its economic and social interests.

Switzerland is a member of – or has close contacts with – various international organisations that are working toward the transition to a green economy. The impetus for this development was generated by the global financial and economic crisis in 2008. However, the action is motivated, in particular, by global environmental problems and the increasing scarcity of resources.

The following processes are a particular priority for Switzerland:

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are the core element of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by the Member States at the General Assembly of the United Nations in late September 2015. The SDGs are political objectives for sustainable development at the economic, social and environmental levels and must be achieved in the next 15 years. They encompass 17 goals which are further refined in 169 targets. The 2030 Agenda replaces the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012 set the negotiating mandate to adopt the Agenda 2030.


Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP)

The partnership was created in 2012 by UNEP, the OECD, the World Bank and the GGGI to provide relevant interest groups with access to knowledge on green growth and the corresponding policy measures. Theoretical knowledge and practical experience is gathered and generated on three platforms and shared with interested parties. The partnership also supports governments in the implementation of their environmental policy measures via three platforms (Green Growth Knowledge Platform), the industry (Green Industry Platform) and financial actors (Green Finance Platform). The GGKP Secretariat is based in Geneva.

Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE)

The International Resource Panel develops scientific bases for political decision-makers with a view to achieving an ecological and sustainable use of resources, and to find solutions to decouple economic growth from resource overconsumption. This group of experts was set up in 2007 and consists of globally leading scientists from the fields of both science and economics. Work has been carried out in particular on governance in the mining sector.

International Resource Panel

The International Resource Panel develops scientific bases for political decision-makers with a view to achieving an ecological and sustainable use of resources, and to find solutions to decouple economic growth from resource overconsumption. This group of experts was set up in 2007 and consists of globally leading scientists from the fields of both science and economics. Work has been carried out in particular on governance in the mining sector.

World Resource Forum

The World Resources Forum (WRF) is an international platform dedicated to the global use and consumption of resources. It brings together decision-makers from business, the scientific community and politics, who meet every two years in in Geneva, Switzerland and in other parts of the world in the intervening years.

Batumi BIG-E

At the UNECE’s eighth "Environment for Europe" Ministerial Conference from 8 to 10 June 2016 in Batumi, Georgia, the States adopted a strategic framework for a green economy until 2030.  The Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIG-E initiative), developed under the leadership of Switzerland in close cooperation with UNEP, the UNECE and the OECD, was launched at this meeting to make this strategic framework operational. BIG-E is a series of voluntary green economy commitments made by interested States and organisations. To date, a total of 27 countries and 13 organisations have presented over 120 commitments. Switzerland has presented five actions that it has already begun to implement in the area of environmental technologies, phosphorus, and resource efficiency in companies (Reffnet).

10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP/One Planet Network)

The 10-year framework (2012-2020) of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns (10YFP) was passed at the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development. It is a concrete instrument for the promotion of sustainable consumption and production patterns and, hence also, for the implementation of the green economy.

Switzerland was actively involved in the Marrakech Process, in which the 10YFP was developed. Switzerland led the task force on the topic of public procurement. UNEP acts as the secretariat for the 10FYP. Switzerland co-chairs the 10YFP for Sustainable Food Systems. The FOEN continues to coordinate the 10YFP strategically via its seat on the board and coordinates via the national focal point for the 10YFP.

OECD Green Growth Strategy

The OECD developed the approach known as the Green Growth Strategy. As part of the Strategy, on 25 May 2011, the OECD Ministerial Council passed recommendations for the Member States on how they can achieve economic growth in association with greater resource efficiency using suitable policy instruments, for example through the creation of ecological cost transparency or through the specific promotion of innovation.

The work of the OECD focuses on supporting countries in their development towards a green economy, in particular through recommendations on growth, investment and environmental policy in the country reviews.

The European Green Deal

The EU is pursuing the “Living well, within the limits of our planet” vision with the 7th Environment Action Programme.

On 11 December 2019, the European Commission presented the Green Deal for Europe. The strategy paper contains a roadmap of measures with the goal of becoming the first climate neutral continent. The European Commission also emphasises that climate policy alone is not enough. Conservation of all natural resources is needed. Consequently, the Green Deal addresses the food, housing and mobility sectors which are of most environmental relevance. The European Commission highlights the need for more cross-sectoral measures, innovation and research, a different industrial policy and more future-proof investments in a competitive circular economy. EU regulations, investment projects, the EU budget and – in collaboration with the Member States – the national budgets should be tested against the new priorities. Sustainability should be part of all EU policy areas.

In March 2020, the Commission presented a new circular economy strategy which places more emphasis on design, production and consumers empowerment instead of just recycling. Also important is the 2018 European strategy for plastics in the circular economy with quantifiable targets by 2030, such as on recycling and reuse of plastic packaging. The Member States are to ban some disposable products from July 2021. Other planned measures are stricter requirements for product design, the development of quality standards and the creation of appropriate, regular inspection facilities. Clear signals should mobilise investment in cycle-oriented solutions and lead to ambitious independent agreements by industry. The Bioeconomy Strategy 2018 will also support sustainable and cycle-oriented use of biogenic raw materials.

With the series of measures in the Circular Economy Package, which was adopted on 2 December 2015, the European Commission aims to support both European companies and consumers in the transition to a more competitive and circular economy. The package also contains legislative proposals with target recycling rates and a communication encompassing a comprehensive action plan including over 50 measures to be implemented by 2020.

Other international processes

UNEP Inquiry Design of a Sustainable Financial System

In 2014, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a global inquiry into the design of a sustainable financial system, thanks in particular to Switzerland's support. The objective was to collect examples of good practices and the experiences of different countries, and define strategies to better align the financial system with sustainable development needs. The UNEP inquiry work provides a solid basis for the next steps, which are to establish a sustainable financial system at the national and international levels.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) presented its "Vision 2050" in 2010. In this new corporate agenda, business leaders from 20 leading industrial sectors outline the ideal image of a prosperous global economy that provides approximately nine billion people with sufficient food, clean water, living space, sanitation, education, health services and modes of transport. The WCBCSD launched an "Action 2020" platform for action on sustainable development containing intermediary targets to be attained by 2020 and measures to be implemented in nine priority areas (including climate, ecosystems, sustainable lifestyles).

Further information

Last modification 19.06.2020

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