Switzerland shows how to put the Green Economy in practice, Rio document does not meet all challenges

Swiss flyer Green EconomyRio de Janeiro, 23 June 2012. Switzerland needs to decouple its economic growth from its resource use with a factor 3, and bring back its ecological footprint.  This can be achieved by realising a Green Economy. This was the theme of a side event, organised by the Swiss government, at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, organised in Rio de Janeiro, June 19.

The meeting was opened by Adrian Aeschlimann, Federal office for the Environment (FOEN). Speakers included State Secretary and FOEN Director Bruno Oberle and Hans-Peter Egler, SECO (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs).

Switzerland has decided to take measures to reduce its environmental impact. The ultimate goal must be a sustainable ecological footprint of 1 and reduction of natural resource use by a factor of three. The goal is to achieve an absolute reduction in resource use and the enhancement of resource efficiency in order to achieve an environmentally sustainable level of economic activity while also fostering the welfare of the people. The Swiss government is an active supporter of the World Resources Forum (WRF) and many other international initiatives.

Bruno OberlePutting the Green Economy into practice, said Oberle, requires creating knowledge (science and technology), fostering sustainable consumption and production patterns, and turning waste into resources. Clear and concrete political goals are essential for success.He presented the Swiss strategy, including the Cleantech masterplan,  which promotes resource efficient Information and telecommunication technology, environmental product information, ecological tax reform, comprehensive measurement of welfare, and resource efficiency assessments of proposed rules and regulations.

Hans Peter Egler called the Green Economy a win-win strategy, also for developing countries, because it can contribute to reducing poverty by increasing competitiveness, through the creation of jobs, access to energy and utilities, transfer of technology and knowledge, and an efficient utilization of resources.  He emphasised the role of Cleaner Production Centers, which originated at the first Rio conference in 1992, as an initiative of UNEP and UNIDO. To date there are National Cleaner Production Centers in over 45 countries.

Doris LeuthardFederal Councillor Doris Leuthard represented Switzerland at the meeting for the formal approval of the Rio document, which renewed the global commitment to sustainable development. The Rio resolution marked the introduction of the green economy to the global policy agenda. The Rio final document achieves “some progress, such as the creation of goals for sustainable development, but does not meet the challenge it poses in all respects”, according to the official Swiss press release. Head of the Swiss negotiation team was Franz Perrez.

The Swiss press release on Rio+20 can be downloaded here

Presentations of the Swiss side event can be found here