Understanding of Sustainability in Switzerland

Switzerland bases its understanding of sustainability on the definition provided by the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) in its 1987 report entitled «Our Common Future», namely that «Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs».

The report underlined how economic, social and ecological processes are all connected, and provided the foundation for the three-dimension concept announced at the World Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, as well as the World Bank's capital stock model of sustainable development.

Sustainable development is a tenet to which the Swiss Confederation and the cantons are bound. Article 2 (Object) of the Federal Constitution declares sustainable development to be a national objective, while Article 73 (Sustainability) calls upon the Confederation and the cantons to strive for «...a balanced relationship between nature and its ability to renew itself, on the one hand, and the demands placed on it by the human race, on the other». To date, the Federal Council has implemented these constitutional obligations by means of sustainable development strategies (1997, 2002, 2008, 2012).