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6 November 2020

Lukewarm commitment to sustainable development

Bundestag building Sdgs
Bundestag building Sdgs

Media release from Alliance Sud - Today the Federal Council sent its Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) to the consultation process. The Swiss strategy for the implementation of the UN goals for sustainable development (SDS) of Agenda 2030 leaves it at fine words, but is completely non-binding. It is already more than five years since Switzerland committed itself to the goals for sustainable development in New York before the UN. It took the Federal Council two years to formulate the new national sustainability strategy. Previously the SDS had been valid for four years, the new one is to be valid until 2030. For Alliance Sud it is clear: with the new strategy the mountain has given birth to a mouse.

The Federal Council acknowledges how important comprehensive and consistently implemented sustainability is for the future of mankind and nature on planet Earth. It also identifies three areas in which Switzerland has a lot of catching up to do: "Sustainable consumption and production", "Climate, energy, biodiversity" and "Equal opportunities". It also envisages the adoption of an action plan.

What is disappointing all round, however, is the means by which the Federal Council intends to achieve the goals of sustainable development. The section on corporate responsibility is fatally reminiscent of the Federal Council's position on the corporate responsibility initiative: "Responsible corporate management is intended to reduce the negative social, economic and ecological impact of business activities. Urgent would be different. When it comes to shaping Switzerland's trade relations, the Federal Council also has nothing more in mind than: "Trade agreements that are in line with International Labour Organization conventions and international environmental conventions can help reduce inequalities".

A reference to sustainability provisions and human rights in Swiss free trade agreements is sought in vain in the SDS draft. Although the Federal Council recognises the capital importance of the Swiss financial centre for global sustainable development, Alliance Sud also lacks a clear position from the Federal Council. Managing Director Mark Herkenrath: "It is not enough to commit to curbing illegal financial flows. Especially since the international term 'illicit financial flows' (IFF) is much broader. Concrete steps are also needed against the tax avoidance practices of multinational corporations. They deprive developing countries of tax revenues that would be enormously important for sustainable development.

Alliance Sud will analyse the SNE draft in detail and participate in the consultation process. It is already clear to the development policy think tank that the Federal Council has failed with its draft to provide a worthy counterpart at national level to the international framework of the SDS.


Media release from Alliance Sud of 4 November 2020, terre des hommes schweiz is a partner of Alliance Sud

Sustainable Development Strategy of the Federal Council (PDF)

Further information:
Mark HerkenrathManaging Director Alliance Sud, +41 78 699 58 66

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