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11 February 2021

Lip service instead of sustainable development

The Bundeshaus in Bern under a cloudless sky. People on the Bundesplatz.
The Bundeshaus in Bern under a cloudless sky. People on the Bundesplatz.

The Federal Council's proposed Sustainable Development Strategy 2030 is urgently needed, but does not adequately take into account the global importance of Swiss domestic and foreign policy: it is non-binding, vague and unambitious. In its response to the consultation, Alliance Sud calls for fundamental improvements. Alliance Sud media release.

Switzerland must make a significant contribution to global sustainable development - for reasons of solidarity and responsibility, but also out of self-interest. Six years ago, the then President of the Swiss Confederation stressed to the UN in New York that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must now actually be implemented. The long overdue draft of the Sustainable Development Strategy (SDG) 2030 does not fulfil this promise for several reasons:

Non-binding
The one-sided strategic focus on the principle of voluntariness and on deregulation measures is not expedient. What is needed is an intelligent mix of incentives and binding regulations, in particular to reduce the financial centre's CO2 emissions and to strengthen corporate responsibility. In addition, systematic ex-ante impact assessments should assess how new laws will affect all relevant dimensions of sustainable development.

Vague
Various goals of the strategy are formulated in a vague and non-binding manner, for example when it comes to Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda, which focuses on strengthening peace, human rights, civil society and its democratic participation. Civil society's room for manoeuvre is increasingly limited in many countries, including Switzerland. The contribution of civil society must therefore be substantially strengthened through appropriate goals and measures. There is also an urgent need for a stronger focus on the legitimate aspirations of the poorest and most disadvantaged population groups in developing countries.

Little ambitious
In the fight against unfair international financial flows, there is a lack of more ambitious goals and effective measures at the national level as well. Profit shifting and aggressive tax avoidance deprive poorer countries of financial resources worth billions of euros, which could otherwise be used by these countries themselves to promote sustainable development. As one of the world's leading financial centres and corporate locations, Switzerland has a very special responsibility.

Alliance Sud regrets that the Federal Council's draft has so far failed to provide the international framework of the SDGs with a worthy and coherent counterpart at national level and to anchor it institutionally. "We have no more time for lip service: Six years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the fine words must finally be followed by action," says Mark Herkenrath, Executive Director of Alliance Sud. "All the goals and measures of the new strategy must both contribute to sustainable development in Switzerland and strengthen the development opportunities of the world's poorest people."

Further information: Mark Herkenrath, Executive Director Alliance Sud, +41 78 699 58 66
You can find the complete consultation response from Alliance Sud at here.


The alliance terre des hommes switzerland and suisse has long advocated for the implementation of the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda - in Switzerland and by Switzerland - with the aim of achieving sustainable social, economic and environmental development. The Federal Council's strategy is partially satisfactory, but there is an urgent need for action on sustainability and a concrete action plan is lacking. We demand sustainable perspectives for children and young people worldwide.

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