Voluntary National Review 2018

Sustainable development in Switzerland and the 2030 Agenda

Since its adoption in 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has driven Switzerland’s commitment to sustainable development, nationally and internationally. It thus underpins the engagement for environmentally sound economic development within planetary boundaries, as well as for peace, respect for humanitarian law and human rights, with which sustainable development is inextricably linked.

From the outset, Switzerland was a driving force behind the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Switzerland advocated for a robust mechanism for follow-up and review, including Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and review of SDG implementation at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

Since 1997 the Federal Council has defined its priorities for implementing sustainable development nationally in a quadrennial strategy; the current strategy is valid until 2019. A comprehensive system for monitoring sustainable development at the national level was put in place in 2003, with currently 73 indicators which are regularly updated.

Immediately after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015, the Federal Council commissioned a comprehensive baseline assessment and gap analysis of the implementation status at federal level. The analysis concerned all 169 targets and covered both Switzerland‘s domestic and international contributions.

Based on the existing national-level system, monitoring was expanded for the 2030 Agenda. The gap analysis indicates that among the chosen 85 indicators 39 show a positive trend, 12 show no significant evolution, 14 show a negative trend, while for 20 no assessment was possible.

Switzerland is already at an advanced stage in achieving various SDGs and has already fulfilled a number of targets. For example, Switzerland is free from extreme poverty (target 1.1), and there is no hunger (target 2.1). Education (target 4.1) is free, compulsory and of good quality.

However, the baseline assessment identifies areas where efforts at national and international level beyond existing policies are needed in order to achieve the SDGs. Consumption of natural resources (SDG 12), for example, is increasing overall. Use of resources from within Switzerland for consumption by its population is decreasing, but use of resources from abroad is increasing in an unsustainable way.

Other areas call for continued strong engagement so that the SGDs can be achieved. With regard to the principle to ‘Leave no one behind’, Switzerland is also committed to enabling disadvantaged groups – for example people with disabilities – to benefit from the country’s prosperity.

Next steps for implementation

The analysis provides a good starting point for tackling the challenges in a targeted and focused manner. The challenges will mainly be addressed within the framework of existing sectoral policies which exploit synergies where possible, observing the principles of effectiveness and efficiency, both nationally and internationally.

The 2030 Agenda is implemented at the federal, cantonal and communal levels, taking into account current obligations, competencies and established division of tasks. Many cantons and communes have defined their own strategies for sustainable development. The federal government will intensify the dialogue with the cantons and communes and support them in implementing the 2030 Agenda, for example through platforms for exchange and networks.

Switzerland’s private sector, NGOs and scientific community have also been committed to sustainable development for a long time. An advisory group composed of interested non-state actors has identified what it considers to be Switzerland’s priority challenges. This group provides a platform for further dialogue with the federal government and for partnerships for implementing the 2030 Agenda. Parliament is to be more closely involved in future.

The 2030 Agenda is an important reference framework for Switzerland’s international cooperation, which aligns its activities with the SDGs. It will continue to support partner countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda and in achieving the SDGs globally. For example, Switzerland contributes to achieving SDG 17 by strengthening domestic resource mobilisation and capacity building, and by promoting a universal, rules-based, multilateral trading system.

Achieving the SDGs by 2030

Switzerland will continue to support the follow-up and review process of the 2030 Agenda, which has become an important element of Switzerland’s strategic cycle on sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda is ambitious and challenging. Switzerland is committed to helping to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

Voluntary National Review 2016
Switzerland’s initial steps towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda


The Swiss Confederation considers the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a unique opportunity to strengthen and to boost sustainable development at all levels: global, regional, national, and subnation-al. It therefore took an active role in the international process from 2013 to 2015 to draw up the universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the means of implementation and financing framework (Addis Ababa Action Agenda), as well as an effective follow-up and review system. Other Swiss key concerns in the negotiation process were, and will remain for the future, that the new goals integrate the social, eco-nomic and environmental dimensions in a balanced manner and take account of the interlinkages be-tween them.

High commitment at all levels

The Swiss Federal Council decided in December 2015 to keep this high level of engagement and contrib-ute in a meaningful way to implementing the 2030 Agenda – both in domestic and foreign policy. In Janu-ary 2016 the Federal Council adopted the Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) 2016–19 that under-lines the need for sustainable development to be a coherent feature of all policy areas. Consequently and wherever possible, Switzerland’s international engagement, in particular its future international coopera-tion as well as sectoral foreign policies, will also be oriented towards the SDGs. Immediate action to kick-start implementation

Within a “transition phase” from 2016 to 2017, a comprehensive programme of work is being put into prac-tice. This work is managed by a temporary inter-ministerial working group with the aim to:

  • clarify institutional arrangements, processes and responsibilities in the Federal Administration for the effective implementation and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda;
  • conduct a baseline study as well as a gap analysis covering all SDGs and targets to identify and define future areas of action to implement the 2030 Agenda;
  • ensure adequate monitoring and reporting by expanding the Swiss system of sustainable development indicators as appropriate.

By early 2018, a report summarising these and other efforts as well as formulating respective recommen-dations for Swiss implementation of the 2030 Agenda will be presented to the Federal Council. Based on the findings from the transition phase and decisions taken by the Federal Council, Switzerland will present a first comprehensive country review at the HLPF 2018.

Creating ownership and increasing policy coherence

In a decentralised country such as Switzerland, subnational authorities, i.e. the cantons and communes, fulfill an important role. It is, therefore, a key concern for the Swiss Confederation to factor sustainable development principles into all levels of government in order to create and increase ownership. Sustaina-ble development should not be regarded as an additional government task, but rather be integrated as far as possible into regular planning and control processes. In the context of the 2030 Agenda implementa-tion, great importance is attached to vertical cooperation between the Confederation, cantons and com-munes, as well as to strengthening policy coherence for sustainable development at all levels.

Switzerland has a long tradition of conducting political processes based on stakeholder participation for the coordination of both national and international policies. Previous participatory processes in the context of sustainable development have been consolidated since autumn 2015. A new and comprehensive con-sultation procedure (the “2030 Dialogue on Sustainable Development”) has resulted that will ensure that the outcomes of the stakeholder dialogue continue to provide input, and that all relevant stakeholder groups are involved in ongoing processes linked to the Confederation's sustainable development policy cycle of planning, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and reporting.

Sustainable Development Strategy 2016–19

The following guidelines, as part of the Sustainable Development Strategy 2016–19, explain how the Swiss Confederation intends to integrate sustainability policy into all of its sectoral policies:

  • Take responsibility for the future
  • Balanced consideration of the three dimensions of sustainable development
  • Incorporate sustainable development into all policy areas
  • Improve coherence and coordination between policy areas
  • Forge sustainable development partnerships

The 2030 Agenda provides a framework for addressing key challenges all countries must overcome in a way appropriate to their particular circumstances. In this spirit, the Sustainable Development Strategy 2016–19 consists of a concrete action plan, structured into the following nine thematic areas of action in the priority fields for sustainable development, including its global dimensions and the interplay of Switzer-land and other countries. These priorities are based on the general focus areas of overall federal govern-ment policy, on the objectives determined by the 2030 Agenda, as well as on the outcomes of the stake-holder dialogue:

  1. Consumption and production (SDG 12)
  2. Urban development, mobility and infrastructure (SDGs 9 and 11)
  3. Energy and climate (SDGs 7 and 13)
  4. Natural resources (SDGs 2, 6, 14, and 15)
  5. Economic and financial system (SDGs 8, 10, 16, and 17)
  6. Education, research and innovation (SDG 4)
  7. Social security (SDGs 1 and 16)
  8. Social cohesion and gender equality (SDGs 5, 10, and 16)
  9. Health (SDG 3)

Swiss foreign policy

The Sustainable Development Strategy 2016–19 and its Action Plan also list selected foreign policy activi-ties. Switzerland is strongly committed to sustainable development through its foreign policy, including its foreign economic policy, international cooperation, and sectoral foreign policies. With its engagement in international processes geared towards specific sectors (including multilateral conventions, bilateral agreements, as well as regional and global (UN) programmes), Switzerland contributes to the advance-ment of sustainable development in its three dimensions. The new Swiss Foreign Policy Strategy 2016–19 defines the broad outlines of Switzerland’s international commitment for the legislative period until 2019. Sustainable development forms one of the four key priorities of the strategy.

The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs will form an integral part of Switzerland’s international cooperation efforts in the future. Through its Dispatch on International Cooperation 2017–20, which is currently under deliber-ation in Parliament, the Federal Council applies for framework financing facilities and determines the in-struments that will be used to implement the SDGs as part of Switzerland’s international cooperation activ-ities. In the period from 2017 to 2020, Switzerland will focus its efforts on the following seven objectives in order to strengthen its contribution to achieving the respective SDGs and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda:

  1. Contribute to the development of an international framework for responding to global challenges
  2. Prevent and manage the consequences of crisis and disaster, and of fragility; promote conflict trans-formation
  3. Support sustainable access to resources and services for all
  4. Promote sustainable economic growth
  5. Strengthen the rule of law and democratic participation; support institutions serving society and the economy
  6. Ensure respect for human rights and fundamental liberties, and support efforts to advance their cause
  7. Strengthen gender equality and the rights of women and girls.

Institutional transition towards effective implementation and follow-up

During the 2016–17 transition phase, the alignment of Swiss sustainability policy with the 2030 Agenda will be further developed. Questions relating to institutional arrangements will be examined and modifica-tions proposed where necessary. Particular attention will be paid to coordinating national, subnational and international processes as effectively as possible. Building on existing structures, the aim is to arrive at an efficient process within the Swiss Confederation to implement the 2030 Agenda in both domestic and for-eign policy. Synergies should be created between national and international processes, while avoiding duplication and overlaps. Initial work will also be done on what exactly implementation of the SDGs will entail.

Federal offices are required to include sustainable development in their own periodic reports on items of business or areas covered by their sectoral policies. In order to measure and report on contributions to the SDGs, Switzerland uses its comprehensive sustainable development monitoring system (MONET) in place since 2003. With its approximately 75 regularly updated indicators it is observed whether, as well as in what context and areas, Switzerland is on the path to sustainable development. In May 2016, the sys-tem's reference framework was amended in order to be ready to take into account the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, thus laying the foundation for both national and international reporting.

The Confederation is also committed to actively engaging in the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) alongside all other countries and all relevant stakeholder representatives. Accord-ingly, it will participate in the planned periodic reporting and implementation monitoring for the SDGs, pro-vide specific input on how the basis of data can be improved, and help developing countries to build their national capacities to draft strategies for sustainable development and to track their implementation.

Means of Implementation

The implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy 2016–19 is funded via the budgets that have been approved by the individual federal offices, which are responsible for incorporating the neces-sary financial resources into their financial planning. The Swiss Confederation also supports the compre-hensive financing and implementation framework adopted by all UN member states at the Third Interna-tional Conference on Financing for Development: the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA). Moreover, Switzerland is highly engaged in support of international conventions and standards in order to strengthen the normative global framework favouring the achievement of the SDGs. The Swiss Confederation strives to address the multiple challenges posed by the adaptation of the SDGs to Switzerland's national context. Accordingly, it will initiate and foster implementation partnerships in all areas and at all levels. Close cooperation between government, interested associations and non-governmental organisations – primarily from the environmental, development cooperation, business and social spheres – has been developed on a regular basis for many years. This coordinated approach be-tween the various areas and actors will be further consolidated in order to engage broader-based partner-ships and multi-stakeholder initiatives to complement Switzerland’s significant share to the transformation of our world towards sustainable development by 2030.
Focal point

Mr Daniel Dubas
Delegate of the Federal Council for the 2030 Agenda
Head of Section, Member of the Board of Directors

Swiss Confederation
Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications DETEC
Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE | Sustainable Development Section

Worblentalstrasse 66, 3063 Ittigen | Postal Address: ARE, CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. +41 58 464 14 48 | daniel.dubas@are.admin.ch | www.are.admin.ch/sd

Mr Jacques Ducrest
Delegate of the Federal Council for the 2030 Agenda
Deputy Head Sectoral Foreign Policies Division

Federal Departement of Foreign Affairs FDFA
Directorate of Political Affairs

Bundesgasse 28
CH-3003 Berne

Tél. +41 58 465 44 36


M. Daniel Dubas

Délégué du Conseil fédéral à l’Agenda 2030
Chef de section, membre de la direction

Département fédéral de l'environnement, des transports, de l'énergie et de la communication DETEC
Office fédéral du développement territorial ARE | Section Développement durable

Worblentalstrasse 66, 3063 Ittigen | Adresse postale: ARE, CH-3003 Berne
Tél. +41 58 464 14 48 | daniel.dubas@are.admin.ch | www.are.admin.ch/dd

M. Jacques Ducrest
Délégué du Conseil fédéral à l’Agenda 2030
Chef suppléant de la Division des Politiques extérieures sectorielles

Département fédéral des affaires étrangères DFAE
Direction politique

Bundesgasse 28
CH-3003 Berne

Tél. +41 58 465 44 36
Partnerships & Commitments
The below is a listing of all partnership initiatives and voluntary commitments where Switzerland* is listed as a partner in the Partnerships for SDGs online platform.
17 Jul 2018
17 Jul 2018
17 Jul 2018
19 Jul 2016
6 Apr 2016
20 Sep 2013
22 Jun 2012
21 Jun 2012
13 May 2011
12 May 2011
12 May 2011
2 May 2011
14 May 2010
13 May 2010
13 May 2010
12 May 2010
7 May 2010
6 May 2010
5 May 2010
5 May 2010
4 May 2010
3 May 2010
4 May 2009
15 May 2008
14 May 2008
13 May 2008
12 May 2008
11 May 2008
9 May 2008
9 May 2008
8 May 2008
7 May 2008
7 May 2008
6 May 2008
6 May 2008
5 May 2008
11 May 2007
2 May 2007
1 May 2007
1 May 2007
12 May 2006
8 May 2006
3 May 2006
1 May 2006
13 Apr 2005
12 Apr 2005
28 Apr 2004
21 Apr 2004
United Nations