The ARE is the federal government's specialist authority on issues concerning spatial development, mobility policy, and sustainable development. It works alongside Switzerland's cantons and communes, and also takes the lead on international cooperation in spatial planning matters. In its work, the ARE pursues the vision that space in Switzerland should be managed sustainably, and that the ARE should play a key part in guiding this development.
The Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE was founded on 1 June 2000, when the remits of the Federal Office of Spatial Planning, the Bureau for Transport Studies, sustainable development and the Alpine Convention were combined under a single roof. The ARE's mandate includes the following:
- Drafting principles and strategies for spatial, transport and sustainable development;
- Ensuring that political plans that affect space and transport are coordinated within the federal government;
- Input into the planning of urban centres and agglomerations, as well as compensatory measures in rural areas;
- Responsibility for international cooperation on the regulation of spatial planning and transport;
- Alongside the cantons, responsibility for the legal supervision of spatial planning;
- Responsibility for ensuring that the federal government's activities observe the principles of sustainability.