Principles of environment policy

Stream flowing through a pine forest
© Hansueli Krapf / Wikipedia

Although nature represents the foundation of life in all its forms, human beings do not always act in harmony with it. Our consumption of resources is far too high, we are causing flora and fauna to become extinct and are polluting the planet's soil. Protecting the environment is therefore one of the central duties of every government, since in this way they are also protecting their vital infrastructure.

Environment policy at home

Originally, the focus of Switzerland's environment policy was limited to the meanwhile firmly anchored protection of bodies of water, the air, the soil and various biotopes, as well as certain species of flora and fauna. These early efforts proved to be highly successful:

  • The majority of lakes and rivers now meet the criteria of drinking water quality.
  • The air has become cleaner.
  • The forests are intact.

Today's environment policy has a significantly broader focus: the Federal Council is adopting a more protective approach to the use of natural resources. In addition, it is taking more comprehensive steps aimed at protecting natural habitats and ecological systems, as well as species of flora and fauna.

Environment policy at the international level

Environment policy has long since become a global issue:

  • For example, climate change: Switzerland is making its contribution at the national level and reducing its level of greenhouse gas emissions. But because the climate does not recognise national borders, Switzerland is also actively committed to the introduction of effective measures aimed at limiting climate change throughout the world.
  • For example, prohibition of hazardous substances: heavy and highly toxic metals such as mercury are spread throughout the world via the air, water and food chain. Following an initiative proposed by Switzerland, an agreement on the strict control of mercury at the global level was concluded in 2013 with the objective of preventing Minimata disease, which is caused by mercury poisoning.

Switzerland also maintains bilateral agreements on environmental protection, for example with China, with which it has been cooperating for a number of years in the area of flood prevention.


General Secretariat
Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications DETEC

Federal Palace North
CH-3003 Bern

+41 58 462 55 11

Further contacts

Print contact