Policy coherence for sustainable development

It is not only through international cooperation that Switzerland has an influence on the development of its partner countries. Other aspects of Swiss policy have an impact too. Switzerland coordinates the goals and measures of its international cooperation with the various sector policies, thereby facilitating the achievement of the sustainability goals of the 2030 Agenda. The so-called policy coherence is an important element of the 2021–2024 international cooperation strategy.

Policy areas, such as migration, trade and the environment define the relationship between Switzerland and its partner countries. Switzerland pursues specific goals for each policy area. It strives to leverage synergies across all policy areas and avoid conflicts of interest whenever possible.

A portrait of the seven current Federal Council members.
The members of the Federal Council discuss potential conflicts of interest among the policy objectives of their departments and minimise them where possible.

Less contradictions, more synergies

Switzerland balances various policy objectives. If two goals are mutually exclusive, conflicting interests are weighed against each other. Departments have to decide as to which should take priority and if necessary, the Federal Council will resolve the conflict.

The following procedures ensure policy coherence within the Federal Administration:

  • Switzerland carefully and systematically observes the impact of its policy on the development of partner countries. In this way, possible conflicts of interest can be identified and dealt with at an early stage.
  • The departments coordinate their activities in inter-departmental working groups and committees.
  • The offices consult with each other before presenting decisions to the Federal Council or Parliament.
  • When the Federal Council makes a decision, all the heads of the federal departments support it.
  • Switzerland supports partner countries in defending their national interests.

Where appropriate, Switzerland aligns its policies with those of the international community. This is achieved, for example, through the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

Example: Sustainability in trade

Switzerland is committed to ensuring that free trade agreements take into account and implement sustainability aspects, such as environmental and labour standards. In doing so, Switzerland demonstrates that international trade can contribute to development and poverty reduction. Environmental protection, labour law and biodiversity are integral parts of a future-oriented trade policy.

For instance, Switzerland aims at reducing the risks for commodity-exporting countries and promoting their sustainability. At the same time, it wants to remain an attractive commodity-trading platform. Taking the gold trading industry as an example, the following measures apply:

  • The Federal Administration raises awareness about due diligence among Swiss enterprises based on OECD guidelines that Switzerland helped to shape.
  • SECO supports the marketing of fair trade gold and is committed to the implementation of social and environmental standards.
  • Since 2015, the Federal Customs Administration has published statistics on gold trading by country, thereby increasing the level of transparency.

Last modification 01.04.2021

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