Switzerland’s VNR Reports Progress, Identifies Future Challenges
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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Switzerland’s first VNR reports on the status of all 17 SDGs, reflects on efforts to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development and policy coherence for sustainable development, and shares the country’s experience with institutional embedding and partnerships.

Switzerland describes the role of its federal, cantonal and communal levels in SDG implementation, and notes that a non-state advisory group has identified priority challenges and organized dialogues with government.

17 July 2018: Switzerland submitted its first country report on SDG implementation to the 2018 UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Switzerland is one of the 46 countries that presented a Voluntary National Review (VNR) at the 2018 HLPF.

Switzerland’s VNR titled, ‘Switzerland Implements the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Switzerland’s Country Report 2018,’ reflects on efforts to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development and policy coherence for sustainable development, and shares the country’s experience with institutional embedding and partnerships. The VNR states that the country is “already at an advanced stage in achieving various SDGs” and has already fulfilled a number of targets, including SDG target 1.1 on ending extreme poverty, SDG target 2.1 on ending hunger and SDG target 4.1 on ensuring free, compulsory and good quality education for all. Switzerland leads global rankings in areas related to quality of life, a sustainable economy, social cohesion and protection against natural hazards. In addition, the entire population has access to drinking water (SDG 6), the country has a secure energy supply and is increasing its energy efficiency, expanding its use of renewables and reducing use of fossil fuels (SDG 7).

SDG 5 (gender equality) is one of the Federal Council’s priorities, and gender equality, particularly in the family, education and workplace, as well as the right to equal pay for equal work, are enshrined in the Swiss Federal Constitution. Still, the VNR observes that women’s median pay is 15 percent lower than men’s, and violence against women is a problem in Swiss society. Switzerland describes a number of efforts to address these challenges in its VNR.

Switzerland promotes prosperity for all through public education, social security and its growth policy.

Switzerland’s VNR identifies areas where additional efforts are needed to achieve the SDGs. As an illustration, Switzerland’s use of natural resources from within the country is decreasing but Switzerland’s use of natural resources from abroad is “increasing in an unsustainable way,” hindering the country’s progress on SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production).

On the principle of leave no one behind (LNOB), Switzerland stresses its commitment to enable disadvantaged groups, such as people with disabilities, to benefit from the country’s prosperity. Switzerland promotes prosperity for all through public education, social security and its growth policy, among others.

On policy coherence, Switzerland’s VNR recognizes the importance of tackling challenges in a targeted and focused manner, underscoring the importance of addressing them within a framework that exploits synergies and observes the principles of effectiveness and efficiency. Switzerland promotes policy coherence through procedures that ensure high quality legislation that achieves a balance between conflicting interests, fosters synergies across sectors and reconciles national and global perspectives. In addition, Switzerland uses the MONET monitoring system for sustainable development to track the temporal dimension of policy coherence. The VNR recognizes tensions related to: mainstreaming the economic, social and environmental dimensions of innovation; “conflicts of use” among environmental protection, human settlement, energy and transport as well as between work-life balance; trade-offs between national policies and international agreements; and domestic policy spillovers.

Switzerland’s SDG implementation engages all levels of government as well as the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the scientific community. The country implements the 2030 Agenda at the federal, cantonal and communal levels, according to relevant competencies, established division of tasks and the principle of subsidiarity. Many cantons and communities have defined sustainability and coordination mechanisms for sustainable development, and engage in dialogue with the federal government on SDG implementation. An advisory group of non-state actors has identified priority challenges for the country, and provides a platform for dialogue with the federal government on issues related to SDG implementation. In addition, Switzerland’s Parliament is expected to be “more closely involved” in the future. The VNR further emphasizes plans to increase “coordination between areas and actors” and to strengthen multi-stakeholder partnerships for SDG implementation.

In its presentation to the HLPF, Switzerland showcased: the commissioning of an SDG-related baseline assessment; the inclusion of SDGs in existing statistical indicators; a commitment to circular and green economies; and progress needed in sustainable consumption. [Switzerland Federal Council Press Release] [Publication: Switzerland Implements the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development] [SDG Knowledge Hub Coverage of HLPF 2018] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Switzerland’s VNR Presentation]


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