Federal Council (still) failing to recognise the potential of the Agenda 2030

SDSN Switzerland is disappointed by the Swiss Federal Council`s report on the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. There is still no conclusive evidence that the Government intends to pursue a genuine sustainability policy. The Federal Council has not only failed to identify clearly the challenges faced by Switzerland as it moves towards a sustainable future but it has also failed to recognise the opportunities for business, research and society that the Agenda 2030 presents.

The Country Report to be submitted by Switzerland in July to the HLPF, the UN’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development represented an opportunity to look back at what has been achieved to date whilst at the same time putting down markers for a forward-looking sustainable development policy in future. The Report submitted by the Federal Council falls short of these expectations.

The challenges facing Switzerland, such as consumer behaviour and its impact on the environment and society have been known for some time. Long overdue is an announcement on the concrete measures that the Federal Council considers necessary if it is to meet its objectives by 2030. A further serious omission is the fact that the interlinkages between sectoral policies, as well as between domestic and foreign policies are not placed central stage when implementing the Agenda 2030 (buzzword: policy coherence). If Switzerland is to implement the Agenda 2030, it is essential to identify both synergies and conflicts of interests. Only then, will it be possible to derive transformative measures that simultaneously make a contribution towards the implementation of several SDGs.

In summer 2017 and as preparation for the Country Report, the Federal Administration compiled a comprehensive baseline assessment in cooperation with the scientific community, industry and civil society -  as a contribution SDSN Switzerland published its discussion paper "Switzerland and the Agenda 2030" in August 2017. Very few of its findings have made it into the current Report: “Official” Switzerland devotes just 26 pages to progress made to date on implementing the Agenda 2030. This “brief report” is at variance with the decisive role played by Switzerland over several years during the drafting of the Agenda 2030.

In order to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs, SDSN Switzerland calls on the Federal Council and Parliament, to incorporate a coherent road map of the requirements of the Agenda 2030 in upcoming domestic and foreign-policy activities, and link them to a forward-looking sustainability policy. This applies in particular to the Sustainable Development Strategy 2020-2023, which should encompass both implementation in Switzerland and activities with an external focus, as well as strongly interdependent sectoral policies such as the Agricultural Policy 2022+. Of particular relevance are the forthcoming Dispatches on International Cooperation 2021-2024 and the Promotion of Education, Research and Innovation for the same period.

SDSN Switzerland plans to work with partners on solution initiatives to ensure that the necessary transformational processes get back on track.