Espoo Convention

The Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (known as the Espoo Convention) was adopted on 25 February 1991 in Espoo, Finland. It came into force in Switzerland on 10 September 1997. It is also in force in all neighbouring States.

Principles and objectives

The Espoo Convention requires the Party of origin (State in which a project is planned) to examine the environmental impacts of a project on a neighbouring State (affected Party) and provides that the Party of origin must notify the Point of Contact of the affected Party of any activity likely to have a significant adverse transboundary environmental impact. It allows the affected Party to participate in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure. The Convention allows the public of the affected Party (one or more natural or legal persons and associations) to make observations on the the project regarding its environmental impact assessment. Environmental studies in connection with the project must also discuss the environmental impacts on the neighbouring State. Furthermore, the Convention stipulates that the Party of origin must take due account of the findings of the inquiry in the State or the neighbouring State(s) (affected Party or Parties).


  • the activities (projects) listed in Appendix 1 of the Espoo Convention that "are likely to cause significant adverse transboundary [environmental] impact” (Art. 2, ch. 2, 3, 4);
  • other activities that the Parties agree to submit to the Espoo Convention (Art. 2, ch. 5 and Appendix III).

Practical application

As concerns its practical application in Switzerland, all projects that are subject to an EIA in accordance with the ordinance on environmental impact assessments (OEIE in French / UVPV in German; RS 814.011) and likely to cause a significant adverse transboundary environmental impact theoretically fall within the scope of the Espoo Convention.


Switzerland as a Party of origin

The competent authority for the implementation of the Convention is either a federal authority, if the project is submitted to a federal procedure, or an authority designated by the canton, if the project is submitted to a cantonal procedure. Article 6a, para. 2 of the OEIE/UVPV defines the roles of the federal and cantonal authorities in implementing the Espoo Convention.

Switzerland as an affected Party

Whenever an activity planned abroad is likely to cause a significant adverse transboundary impact on the environment in Switzerland, the Party of origin notifies the Swiss Point of Contact about the project (FOEN, EIA and Spatial Planning Section). If it does not and Switzerland finds out about an existing project that is likely to cause a significant adverse transboundary environmental impact, the Swiss Point of Contact is entitled to require notification (Art. 3, ch. 7). The requirements arising under the Espoo Convention are generally met in Switzerland by the competent authority, which issues a decision on the project if it was planned in Switzerland (Art. 6a, para. 1, OEIE/UVPV).

Further information

Last modification 10.05.2019

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