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».

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.

The Federal Council’s understanding of sustainable development is as follows: Sustainable development makes it possible to meet the basic needs of all people and ensures a good quality of life throughout the world, now and in the future. It encompasses the three dimensions of environmental responsibility, social solidarity and economic efficiency, and this on an equal, balanced and integrated basis, while also factoring in the tolerance limits of global ecosystems. With its underlying principles and its 17 global Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) comprises the reference framework for this.